This policy brief, authored by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, explores how to mainstream rural migrants into urban India. It covers: who is a migrant in Indian cities, challenges of migration, legal provisions for migrants, reasons for rural to urban migration, inter-state migration corridors, some regional initiatives and outlines key recommendations for policymakers.


India has been described as a ‘reluctant urbaniser’. The rate of urbanisation increased from 17.3 per cent in 1951 to 31.2 per cent in 2011, representing just a 2.3 per cent increase per decade. In 2011, rural to urban migration contributed only about 18 per cent to the total urban increment of population. This essentially highlights that urban centres in India have not been able to emerge as magnets for creation of employment opportunities attracting rural people on a scale as seen in China and South Korea.

Policy recommendations
  • Develop a comprehensive legal and policy framework on migration
  • Integration of migrants with urban main-stream labour market
  • Inclusion through housing and social security
  • Inclusive master plan ensuring migrants’ right to city
  • Set up Migration Resource Centers and migration helplines
  • Registration and issuance of identity proofs to migrants
  • Portability of entitlements
  • Financial and Political Inclusion
  • Enable evidence-based policy formulation