Internal Migration

© UNESCO/Marina Faetanini

Internal Migration in India Initiative (IMII)

Migrants constitute a ‘floating population’, as they alternate between living at their source and destination locations. Being constantly on the move, migrants lose access to social security benefits linked to the residence. Migrants are excluded from the economic, cultural, social and political lives of society, and are often treated as second-class citizens. The constraints faced by migrants are many: lack of formal residency rights; lack of political representation; inadequate housing; low-paid, insecure or hazardous work; limited access to state-provided services such as health and education and discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, class or gender. Children accompanying migrating families face disruption of regular and continued schooling, adversely affecting their human capital formation and contributing to the inter-generational transmission of poverty.

Yet, currently, government policies and programmes fail to recognise internal migrant populations as a priority group for ensuring rights and entitlements. While fragmented references to migrants exist in some legislation and policies, they inadequately address the nature and complexities of internal migration in India today. There is a pressing need to develop a coherent policy framework for migrants and to mainstream migrants into national development plans, for protecting and promoting migrants’ access to social services, and enabling migrants to become socially and politically active citizens.

Through the launching of the Internal Migration in India Initiative (IMII), UNESCO and UNICEF, with other partners and stakeholders, including UN Women and International Organization for Migration (IOM) wish to support the social inclusion of migrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of the country using a three-legged approach, combining research, advocacy, and capacity building.

UNESCO-UNICEF National Workshop on Internal Migration and Human Development

On 6-7 December 2011, national and international experts, as well as representatives from civil society and UN organizations, had the opportunity to discuss, debate and share their findings during a National Workshop on ‘Internal Migration and Human Development in India’  organised by UNESCO and UNICEF, in order to advance knowledge on the crucial issue of internal migration. The event was supported by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Indian Council of Social Science Research.

A network of close to 80 participants, including national and international experts on internal migration, government officials, civil society and UN organizations, participated in the UNESCO-UNICEF National Workshop on ‘Internal Migration and Human Development in India’, held on 6-7 December 2011. The workshop addressed research gaps on internal migration, and uncovered areas for further research. Eight research papers were commissioned to serve as the basis for the discussion of the workshop, examining the under-explored linkages between internal migration and human development; social protection; the rights and well-being of women and children; inclusive urbanization and migrants’ rights to the city; and urban policies and rights-based creative practices.



Concept note

Migrants: of Delhi’s Silent Majority brochure

Workshop Compendium Vol. 1: Workshop Report

Workshop Compendium Vol. 2: Workshop Papers

UNESCO/UNICEF Policy Briefs For Better Inclusion of Internal Migrants in India 


Marina Faetanini
Programme Specialist in Social and Human Sciences
UNESCO Office in New Delhi 
Email: m.faetanini(at)
Phone: + (91) 11 267 13000


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