The International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Migration in partnership with the Government of India’s think-tank NITI Aayog organized a National Conclave on March 29, 2022, at Hotel Taj Palace, Chanakyapuri in New Delhi to initiate, contribute to and support a holistic analysis on and of the core areas of migration. As migration trends continue to evolve, accompanied by unprecedented challenges, the situation calls for recognizing the potential for collaboration and coalescing of efforts towards a sustainable, safe, secure and orderly model of migration.
IOM-NITI Aayog National Conclave
The Conclave broadly focused on
Identifying and sharing of good practices and lessons learned by different states during the critical stages of the COVID-19 pandemic
Developing an understanding of the invaluable nature of a multi-stakeholder participatory approach like partnerships with the private sector for responsible recruitment of migrant workers
Working towards combined action by states of origin and states of destination for the safety of migrant workers buoyed by the context provided by NITI Aayog’s draft ‘National Policy Framework on Migrant Labour‘; and,
Promotion of better understanding of, and response to, needs and challenges of female migrants in the supply chain of the garment industry.
The inaugural ceremony of the Conclave commenced with a welcome note by Shri Sanjay Awasthi, Head of Office, IOM’s Mission in India. This was followed by a special address by Shri Sarat Dash, Chief of Mission of Sri Lanka and Maldives and IOM DG’s Special Envoy to India and Bhutan. The Deputy Advisor from NITI Aayog, Dr. Muniraju. S. B. talked about the need for “evidence-based policy formulation along with design and delivery of compensation packages, through a need-based and in a gender sensitive manner.” The inaugural speeches echoed the intent of the Conclave, where diverse and seemingly disparate groups, had gathered as primary stakeholders to engage in dialogue, deliberation and decision-making, that has become symbolic of migration management efforts. Besides this being the hallmark of a whole-of-society approach, Mr. Sanjay Awasthi elucidated the rigor of the Government of India, in migration data management, within and outside India. Reflecting on the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, which resulted in a 2.2% decline in global remittances in 2020, Mr. Sarat Das, “proud of their contribution” talked about migrant workers’ resilience. Despite compounding of “vulnerabilities due to their socio economic status, suboptimal living environments, eligibility or access to services including health services, cultural or linguistic barriers at their destinations, migrant workers still contributed 702 billion USD compared to 718billion USD in 2019”. Dr. Muniraju., shed light on the numerous initiatives of the government, like constitution of several committees under Disaster management Act, 2005, collaborative efforts with UN Agencies and NGOs, and launching of almost Rs. 1.7 lakh crores to help the committees of the economically disadvantaged states.
Three sessions spread out over one day, brought together stakeholders from multiple sectors. Session 1, comprised of detailed presentations by representatives from the state labor departments of Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Haryana. Each state acknowledged the stiff challenges when the ‘lockdown’ was enforced and the innovative ways that their resources were mobilized to maximize protective cover to migrant workers, amidst uncertainties. Some of the outstanding efforts was joint action between states of origin and states of destination to ply special trains and buses, provisions for temporary shelter and food, coordination between labor and law enforcement control rooms, appointment of nodal officers from different departments and monetary help, among many other novel initiatives. Dr. Muniraju, spoke about the importance of distinguishing between “inter-state and intra-state due to different needs” and “information management and communication control to mitigate harm through the spread of fake news”.
Session 2 delved deep into partnerships and collaborations with the private sector, including export houses, global brands, supply chains, labor recruitment agents and agencies, NGOs and CSOs. Dr. Surabhi Singh, India Centre for Migration, MEA, as the Chair of the session, commending the practices of the public and private organizations, said that “the need is to coordinate strategies and not have fragmented practices”.
Session 3, a panel discussion on ‘A National Policy for protection and welfare of Migrant Workers‘ demonstrated the solution-seeking and sustaining capacity of stakeholders through appropriate and timely mobilization of resources for the benefit of migrant workers. One of the key takeaways was that a crisis can be converted into an opportunity and migration is synonymous with opportunity. Panelists talked about specific policies at the states of origin and destination respectively, by recognizing the multisectoral nature of labor migration, understanding the demographic makeup of regions to devise adequate solutions caused by changes related to migration. It is thus crucial to be clear about migration and ‘migrant workers‘ without getting mired in misguiding terminologies, which can have a deleterious effect on migrant communities. Lastly, recommendations for robust policies through programs and partnerships for the protection of children were made, especially in light of COVID-19 that disrupted child protection networks.
Concluding the event, Shri Sanjay Awasthi, said, “Migration is an international issue and with pandemic the crisis only accelerated manifold. Through this conclave, IOM aims to create awareness about the challenges faced by migrant workers and develop best practices with the help of stakeholders, to be adopted for their safety and welfare.”
The Conclaves main aim was to aid in achieving inclusive, broad-based, and effective governance of migration through sharing of experiences, expertise, and best practices. Against this backdrop, IOM is poised to support and build capacities of public and private entities in developing a comprehensive approach for increasing coordination between all stakeholders involved in human migration and mobility. The need of the hour is to build back better migration management frameworks with multilateral cooperation and collaboration to encourage safe migration. Additionally, as markets across the country and the world reel under the impact of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to explore good practices and formulate evidence-based practices.
To continue the discussion on migration, IOM is also organizing a media roundtable on March 30, 2022 to discuss and debate on the migration issue, reporting on the issue by media and their perspective on the subject and the role played by IOM in managing the migrant crisis efficiently.
Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental partners.
With 174 member states, a further eight states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.
IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
About NITI Aayog
The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is the apex public policy think tank of the Government of India, and the nodal agency tasked with catalyzing economic development, and fostering cooperative federalism through the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.(1)