Migration Matters: Estimation and Analysis of Migration from Bangladesh to India
Estimations of the numbers of Bangladeshi nationals living in India have been a contested arena, both because of the continuity of the process—which started early after Partition—and because of the mostly illegal nature of the migration. Also, the determination of the immigrants’ original communities is virtually impossible because of the similarities among the masses of people across the borders. The around 5000-km-long porous natural border between India and Bangladesh has provided easy passage to local populations, while presenting a monumental challenge to the two states to protect the borders from transgressors and enforce regulations on the border population. So the interpretation of the numbers has not been neutral; the numbers have been interpreted in a manner suitable to their arguments both by these two states and by other actors. The Indian state regards the illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals to Indian soil as a major contentious issue involving the economy, culture, security, and politics. On the other hand, Bangladesh denies any such migration at all. This difference has had serious implications for the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, forcing them to become pawns in the callous hands of the two states. The historical process of voluntary migration in this region has been opposed by cartographical innovations originated by the colonial masters of these states to meet the demands of competing nations. This has resulted in serious limitations on the livelihood possibilities of the people across borders.
This chapter attempts to provide an analysis of the dynamics of migration from Bangladesh to India and to estimate the migration flow through the provision of some authentic quantitative data, obtained from the sources available in public doamin; a projection for the near future is also provided. An effort has also been made to define the pattern of migration through the qualitative analysis of secondary public sourced infomation and surveyed data. A field study was undertaken to validate the quantitative findings. Statistical tests were performed to test the validity of the data and to provide future projections. These findings, we trust, will help the two states to take policy decisions and mitigate the sufferings of the millions of people who cross the border illegally in search of a better livelihood.
KeywordsMigration Bangladesh India Livelihood Borders State
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