On the Importance of Triangulating Data Sets to Examine Indians on the Move

By S Chandrasekhar, Mukta Naik, and Shamindra Nath Roy
Economic and Political Weekly, 25 November 2017

A chapter dedicated to migration in the Economic Survey 2016–17 signals the willingness on the part of Indian policymakers to address the linkages between migration, labour markets, and economic development. This paper attempts to take forward this discussion. We comment on the salient mobility trends in India gleaned from existing data sets, and then compare and critique estimates of the Economic Survey with traditional data sets. After highlighting the data and resultant knowledge gaps, the article comments on the possibility of using innovative data sources and methods to understand migration and human mobility. It also offers ideas on how an enhanced understanding of mobility is important for policy interventions for those individuals who change locations permanently and those who move seasonally.