Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 521

Education and Nutrition among the Migrant Construction
Workers’ Children – A Case Study of Bengaluru City

Channamma Kambara
Malini L Tantri
S Manasi
N Latha



Urbanisation has emerged as one of the most prominent dimensions of economic development the world over. According to World Urbanisation Prospects, the 20th century has witnessed a rapid urbanisation with a dramatic increase in the proportion of global urban population from 13 per cent (220 million) in 1900 to 29 per cent (732 million) in 1950 to 39.4 per cent in 1980 to 41.2 per cent in 1990 to 49 per cent (3.2 billion) in 2005 to 52.8 per cent in 2010 and is projected to increase further up to 60 per cent (4.9 billion) by 2030 (World Urbanisation Prospects, 2005). India, in particular, has witnessed atrend of increase in its urban population. In the last fifty years, the population of India has grown two and a half times, whereas urban India has grown almost five times. It is estimated that by 2030, 590 million people will live in Indian cities. Further, the 2011 Census indicates an increase in urban population compared to the rural population, for the first time since Independence.

Economic progress, especially in the urban areas, has translated into a boom in sectors such as the construction industry in urban India. Similarly, urbanisation has resulted in increased labour migration in the construction industry across the world. According to NSSO, the casual labour in construction has expanded substantially during 1993-94 to 2014-15 while the share of other sectors either stagnated or declined. As per Economic Survey 2018, the construction sector is the second largest industry in India after agriculture, employing around 52 million people in 2018-19 across the country and is expected to add another 15 million jobs over the next five years to the real estate and construction sector (Kadidal, 2019). Hence, the construction industry has become an important indicator of development as it creates investment opportunities across various related sectors. It absorbs the largest proportion of rural workers who have migrated to urban centres due to a surplus in agriculture, chronic poverty, deficit rainfall, an inability to cultivate, loss of land and other factors. In the process of migration from rural to urban areas, the children are the most affected as many remain out of school, many are forced to drop out and some become vulnerable to work as child labour due to the seasonal mobility of their parents. Thus, mainstreaming these children in the development process is a big challenge in attaining the goal of universal primary education and inclusive growth. Adding to this, the temporary nature of work is featured by high labour turnover and the constantly changing work environment.

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