With the agrarian economy unable to sustain the growing working population, migration is going to be increasingly inevitable in the coming decades, said Amitabh Kundu, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Migration, informal work and urban poverty: interdisciplinary explorations' organised by the Institute for Social and Economic Change here on Thursday.

Prof. Kundu said that the unavoidable surge in migration necessitates a paradigm shift in the policy of urbanisation. Urban infrastructure in the small new towns — especially the 2,800 census towns — would have to grow to sustain the arriving populations, he added.

Refuting classical perceptions about the push-pull factors contributing to migration, he argued for a shift in the framework of migration studies. Prof. Kundu contended that rural-to-urban migration was not always driven by distress and poverty.

He argued for “rescuing migration studies from poverty syndrome”, citing statistics from the National Sample Survey Organisation data that suggest that the migratory population was not necessarily worse off after migrating to urban pockets, with standards of literacy and health showing better indicators. He said that there was a discernible rise in the family migration as opposed to single-male migration.

Responding to Prof. Kundu's position on poverty and migration, Supriya Roy Chowdhury, professor, ISEC, sought to place the debate in a political-economy perspective. She asked if migration also demands a paradigm shift in industrialisation and development model, given the exclusionary nature of urbanisation in the current scenario.

Earlier, presenting an overview of the seminar, Ms. Chowdhury said there were many “unresolved debates” in the domain of urban poverty that highlight the need for inter-disciplinary understanding.

The two-day seminar continues on Friday at ISEC.

‘Rural-to-urban migration not always driven by distress and poverty'