Journal Articles

The Governance of Internal Migration: Learning from the Pre- and Post-COVID-19 Policy Responses of Indian States

Mukta Naik
Priyansha Singh, Harshita Sinha, Varun Aggarwal


May 29, 2024

While the governance of global migration is a growing conversation in policy and academia, internal migration has remained under-researched and under-represented as an area of focus. The increased policy attention on internal migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for examining the governance of internal migration. Drawing on a review of literature and two consequent rounds of an ex ante policy indexing tool—the Interstate Migrant Policy Index (IMPEX) 2019 and IMPEX 2021—this article focuses on policies formulated by Indian state governments that are prominent recipients of internal migrants in the pre- and post-pandemic period. We find that while the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of low-income internal migrants in India, it only partially translated into long-term policy measures. This article demonstrates that the complexity of migration policymaking governance in federal democracies like India is an important aspect of global migration governance. It argues that such a focus will enable a number of developing economies to refine labour and social protection policies toward sustainable economics and human development. The article motivates a research and policy agenda that can especially help developing countries improve labour mobility patterns for economic development as well as ensure fuller coverage of social welfare measures in response to climate migration.

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