International college students within the US – there are at the least 200,000 from India – might need to depart the nation or threat deportation, if their universities shift to online-only mode. The US additionally suspended for this yr the H1-B visa programme, utilized by a whole lot of expert Indian employees, final month. Kuwait’s parliament has handed a invoice placing quotas on the migrant inhabitants that would drive 800,000 Indians to depart the nation. And nearer house, the Haryana authorities has issued an ordinance to order 75% non-public sector jobs for candidates from the state.

All are clear indicators that the pandemic, and the financial disruption it has inflicted, has added to the already rising backlash towards free motion of labour internationally.

At a time when India has additionally imbibed self-reliance because the cornerstone of post-pandemic recovery, there’s a want to noticeably study the implications of such a sentiment.

World Bank information exhibits that India obtained the very best quantity of private remittances, $ 83.1 billion, in 2019. This is greater than mixed quantity obtained by Mexico and Philippines, international locations ranked second and third that yr. Net private remittances, or remittances obtained after subtracting remittances paid, for India have been $75.6 billion in 2019. These numbers have been constantly rising.

The internet remittances obtained in 2019 quantity to 2.6% of India’s GDP. To put this in perspective,the quantity is greater than double of what India spends on well being. As is apparent, India will stand to lose essentially the most if there’s a main backlash towards immigrant employees. (See Chart 1)


The significance of migrant employees within the Indian financial system isn’t restricted to those that cross worldwide borders. The Economic Survey, an annual publication of the ministry of finance, estimated that nearly a fourth of India’s workforce is made up of migrant employees. In their guide How Lives Change: Palanpur, India and Development Economics”, Himanshu, Peter Lanjouw and Nicholas Stern present that 70% of employees who left their villages for non-farm work travelled greater than 50km . A 3rd of such employees really travelled at the least 100km. A number of them should have crossed state borders. A 2018 World Bank paper by Gaurav Nayyar and Kyoung Yang Kim discovered that migrant remittances had a share of 35% in Bihar’s gross state home product (GSDP) and positively affected consumption on the family stage. Not all this migration is because of push components, or poor revenue ranges in states which ship out migrants.

Migrant-receiving states are equally dependent. Southern states reminiscent of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the place inhabitants progress has slowed down significantly want extra employees from states with excessive inhabitants progress to fulfill their labour necessities . While a whole lot of this migration is of unskilled employees, insurance policies that hinder upward mobility for migrant employees are sure to create discontent. And the cascading results of loss in remittance incomes will in the end damage demand within the nation.

Any blanket coverage which reserves jobs for native residents may also have an antagonistic impact on the expertise pool out there to enterprises. Annual Survey of Industry (ASI) information exhibits that 40% of India’s industrial jobs have been positioned in simply three states – Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat. If factories positioned in these three states have been to rent simply locals, or largely locals, they might miss out on the expertise pool out there to them. Any such coverage may also have critical penalties for India’s IT business, which is concentrated in a handful of cities. (See Chart 2)


To make sure, the push for anti-immigrant insurance policies has an goal foundation. With economies in contraction mode throughout the globe, politicians are doing all they will to placate native employees, who’re additionally voters. While such short-termism is likely to be engaging in the mean time, it will probably find yourself doing long run hurt. Foreign college students carry massive quantities in tuition charges and a wealth of data to the American larger schooling system. India’ wealthy states are critically depending on migrants for a number of actions.

Political temptation for counterproductive insurance policies throughout occasions of financial crises isn’t new. Economies tried to harm every others’ exports by commerce obstacles or aggressive devaluation in the course of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

This is sometimes called a beggar-thy-neighbour coverage. Because all international locations replicated this, it solely ended up worsening the state of affairs. A century later, the world appears to have shifted from beggar-thy-neighbour to beggar-thy-neighbour’s employee.

As the very best recipient of remittances, it’s in India’s curiosity to steer the cost towards such a mindset. Doing it will require coherence in worldwide and home insurance policies.

Policies which institutionalise discrimination in coping with migrant employees or state governments enacting legislations which exclude migrants from jobs are the other of what’s required to display such coherence.

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