COVID-19, Reverse Migration and Crisis Management: A Study of the Model of Government of Uttar Pradesh (India)

Published date01 March 2022
Date01 March 2022
Subject MatterArticles
COVID-19, Reverse
Migration and Crisis
Management: A Study
of the Model of
Government of Uttar
Pradesh (India)
Aditya P. Tripathi1 and Noopur Agrawal2
With the outbreak of the global pandemic of COVID-19, India witnessed one of
the largest reverse migrations in its entire history. Amid continuously stream-
ing heart-rending visuals of migrant workers struggling to somehow return to
their place of origin, Uttar Pradesh emerged as the recipient of huge 3.2 million
migrant workers employed in the informal sector. Accepting, welcoming, help-
ing, encouraging and offering employment to those destitute workers amid the
pandemic was a difficult task for the state government.
An appropriate management of this problem has made it a classic case of cri-
sis management by a state chief minister who dares to think beyond the reflex
paranoia about resource crunch so as to come up with an improvised strategy.
Purpose of this article is to discuss the crisis of reverse migration amid COVID-
19 and the initiatives taken by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The article uses
case study approach to analyse the problem of livelihood faced by the migrant
workers and the innovative model of employment and rehabilitation envisioned
and implemented by the state government.
Based on secondary data, it observes positive impact of skill mapping and
other key strategies of the Government of Uttar Pradesh.
COVID-19, MSME, migrant workers, skill mapping, re-skilling, governance
Indian Journal of Public
68(1) 84–99, 2022
© 2022 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561211058392
1 Department of Commerce, Shyam Lal College (Evening), University of Delhi, India.
2 Department of Commerce, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Aditya P. Tripathi, Associate Professor, Department of Commerce, Shyam Lal College (Evening),
University of Delhi, Shahdara, Delhi 110032, India.
Tripathi and Agrawal 85
Uttar Pradesh has significantly been contributing to the workforce requirements of
Delhi and Maharashtra, the top receiver states of migrant workers across the
country. Pandemic-induced lockdown amid COVID-19 resulted into forced reverse
migration of workers to their native places, posing a great challenge for the
Government of Uttar Pradesh. Before discussing the challenges of reverse migra-
tion, it is imperative to discuss the composition and direction of migration in India.
As per the Census 2011, India had 455.80 million (45.58 crore) migrants in the
year 2011, which is approximately 38% of the total population of the country and
is 7% higher than the previous Census of 2001. Between 2001 and 2011, when
the population increased by 18%, the size of migrants increased by 45%. If we
analyse the direction of migration, as per the Census of 2011, 99% of the total
migration was internal and immigrants comprised of a tiny 1% only (Table 1).
Demographers usually classify internal migrant flows on the basis of origin
and destination. A typical classification of migration based on origin and destina-
tion may be: (a) rural–rural (b) rural–urban, (c) urban–rural and (d) urban–urban.
As per Census 2011, there were 21 crore rural–rural migrants which accounts
for 54% of classifiable internal migration, challenging the long-established per-
ception that migration is always from rural areas to the urban ones. As per Census
2011, rural–urban and urban–urban movement comprised of approximately 8 crore
migrants in each classification. There were around 3 crore urban–rural migrants
approving the very possibility of migration from urban areas to the rural ones.
Another alternative way to classify migration is to look at it from the state
level: (a) intra-state (within the state) (b) inter-state (from one state to another).
As per the data (Census of India, 2011), intra-state movement accounted for
almost 87% of all internal migration. Two states, namely Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,
were the biggest sources of inter-state migrants while Maharashtra and Delhi were
the key receiver states (Iyer, 2020).
Table 1. Statistics of Migrants in India (2001–2011 Census Data).
(in Million)
As Percentage
of Total
(in Million)
As Percentage
of Total
Growth Rate
in 10 Years
1,028.60 NA 1,210.90 NA 17.72%
Total no. of
314.50 100% 455.80 100% 44.92%
Total no.
of internal
309.40 98.40% 449.9 98.70% 45.40%
Intra-state 268.20 85.30% 395.70 86.80% 47.50%
Inter-state 41.20 13.10% 54.30 11.90% 31.80%
From other
5.10 1.60% 5.90 1.30% 15.68%
Source: Authors’ computation using census data.
Note: *Data retrieved from Table 11 of 2001 Census of India; #from D2 of Census of India (2011).

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