17 April, 2021

The Earth Moves Under Us

Why are official policies so migration-blind? Are the poor so invisible?

Illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
The Earth Moves Under Us

There’s no doubt about it: Indians are mobile as never before, and also in many more ways. The economic and geographic mobility recently achieved by our elites and professional classes has been so rapid and high-profile as to be awe-inspiring. The movement of professionals and other wage-workers to richer countries spawned the extraordinary socio-economic phenomenon of the NRI, shorthand for a diverse group that has achieved a remarkably powerful political voice even within India.

To that has been added the possibilities of upward mobility through certain kinds of professional education or newer forms of economic activity. All this has helped to shape the economic and cultural aspirations of the ‘New India’ that is constantly being celebrated in the English media. This vitality, which has been aided by the levelling access to mobile communication among almost all income groups, has created among some a heady feeling of positive change aided by the movement of people.

But this is only one—and in fact a...

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