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Rural migrant workers in the construction industry, New Delhi, India

Migration A–Z

R

  1. Valentina Prosperi

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm461

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Prosperi, V. 2013. Rural migrant workers in the construction industry, New Delhi, India. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

Abstract

India is a huge country and its own history has been formed by the migration of entire populations across and between its borders. In the present neoliberal era, immigration to urban India guarantees a controlled and disciplined labor supply and facilitates the capital in keeping the working class fragmented along regionally and socially constructed divides. This is well illustrated by the case of the construction industry in New Delhi. The lives of construction workers are characterized by the harshness of their working conditions and the lack of social mobility. However, the advance system – according to which workers are paid before the beginning of the working season, when they need the money most, for example to celebrate weddings, and by which means intermediaries can secure laborers at the lowest cost – and the debt trap do not seem to be key explanatory factors, as observed by scholars writing on other Indian sectors and contexts (Breman 1996, 2008; Guérin 2009: 170). In what follows I shall suggest what the explanatory factors may be in cases like that of New Delhi, with reference to medium- to large-scale development projects characterized by the massive use of migrant labor.

Keywords:

  • Asia;
  • labor;
  • labor supply;
  • poverty;
  • political economy