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November 2020

By Priyansha. Rohini and the IMN Team

Developed by the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs and Migration Policy Group, Belgium, the Migrant Integration Policy Index is an EU funded policy tool which assesses the immigrant integration policies of countries around the world, based on a number of policy areas such as Labour Market Mobility, Education, Family Reunion, Access to Nationality, Anti-Discrimination, Health, Permanent Residence, and Political Participation. We partnered with MPG to conduct the MIPEX 2020 assessment of India. 

India scores a 24/100 (the average score being 50), falling within the category of 'slightly unfavourable'. Although immigration numbers have not increased significantly in recent times, they stand at 5 million +. India is also a prominent source of the world's immigrants and therefore has a standard to set by way of policy. Unfortunately, as a deep-dive into the various policy indicators will show, integration of immigrants is yet to become a serious policy priority beyond existing ad-hoc frameworks for certain refugee communities.



MIPEX utilises aggregated scores across 163 vital policy indicators to assess a country's performance on a number of matters including Labour Market, Education, Access to Nationality, Family Reunion, Health, and Political Participation.


India is a unique country for migrants, worldwide. Not only is it the source of the highest number of international migrants (17 million as per the World Migration Report, 2020), it is also a prominent destination country for immigrants, particularly from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Pakistan. While mobility agreements with Nepal exist, a majority of immigrants are vulnerable and require equal access to social and economic infrastructure. Given the importance of India as a destination country, it is important to assess the nature of integration policy for immigrants in India.

Listen to IMN's podcast where we are joined by IMN advisor, Dr Meera Sethi, Dr Ranjana Kumari (Director, Centre for Social Research) and Dr Thomas Huddleston (Research Director, Migration Policy Group). We discuss immigration into India, the Indian immigration policy framework, the plight of Bangladeshi and Rohingyas immigrants/refugees and explore how to benchmark integration policy for immigrants.

Click here to listen to the episode.

A long way ahead for India

Labour market access, education, language facilities, naturalisation, and family reunion are key areas through which migrant lives can be improved and better social cohesion achieved. The role played by local actors and institutions as well as social media and technology is also important.

The understanding of the impacts and contributions of immigrants in India is limited. Besides adding to the overall social and cultural diversity, migrants have been contributing to the Indian economy in the informal sector as construction workers, domestic help, cleaners, bar and restaurant workers, petty traders, and so on. Unfortunately, such contributions have not been assessed or measured.

Cross-border migrants often face harassment, are exploited by brokers, paid irregularly, sometimes substantially less than what they are promised by the employers, and are often ill-treated by the border security forces.

India has no coherent immigration policy framework. There are policies regulating the entry and exit of people through its border. These apply to both Indian citizens and foreigners. The Indian government has also set up special tribunals for “the determination of the question whether a person is an illegal migrant to enable the Central Government to expel illegal migrants from India”.

Beyond this, there are ad hoc policies and executive orders for the entry and rehabilitation of Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees and for religious minorities from neighbouring Muslim majority countries. But, compared to the situation in the other 52 MIPEX countries, international migrants in India face poor integration outcomes. 

Read more:
Who is a migrant?
Immigration into India: A Primer
What Does It Mean To Be a Refugee During The Pandemic?
IOM World Migration Report 2020
Towards a Global Compact on Refugees
Immigration and the North-East

At IMN, we are incubating an exciting and ambitious new project focused on bridging crucial financial inclusion gaps for migrant workers and their households. We will be building and deploying an agent network across Central India - the source area of Bundelkhand and the destination region of Delhi NCR - to help migrants open bank accounts, formalise their financial operations, and ensure they receive the government benefits they are entitled to. We’re hoping to impact millions of workers and their families - many of whom are coming out of a period of deep economic distress during the lockdown and just venturing back to cities. A small donation from you, our readers, would go a long way in seeing this project succeed and make a difference. You can donate or even share our fundraising campaign here.

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As MIPEX @migpolgroup country partner for India, we are happy to share the score for India - which is now LIVE

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Today we have the first #MIPEX2020 national launch of the week. The MIPEX report on integration policies in #India

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