How can the Political Agency of Migrant Workers be Amplified for Welfare Access?

July 27, 2022

How can the Political Agency of Migrant Workers be Amplified for Welfare Access?

Summary: No matter how much emphasis there is on the rights of internal migrant workers, the evidence shows that exclusions to government schemes and discrimination in employment and service provision persists because they have limited political agency in their destinations of work. On the one side, we see growing resentment and violence against migrants, job reservations for natives by many destination states and the overall decline of collective bargaining among the working class. On the other hand, there is a renewed conversation around the portability of voting rights.

In the last of this three-part Coffee Chat series on migration, we explored the tricky question of political space and citizenship for internal migrants, given that the Constitution of India unequivocally guarantees freedom of movement. The third session will delve into:

  • In political terms, what kind of identities and subjectivities do migrants mobilise to claim benefits from employers and services from the state?
  • How are migrants asserting themselves even as they face invisibility, at best, and backlash, at the worst, in their places of employment?
  • What are the possibilities ahead for migrant agency and citizenship? Who are the actors engaged in opening these opportunities out?


  • Mewa Bharti (Rajasthan Mahila Kamgar Union)
  • Santosh Poonia (Programme Manager, Aajeevika Bureau)
  • Shashwat Dhar (PhD Candidate, Vanderbilt University)


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