Migration to brick kilns in India: an appraisal

This note expounds on migration to brick-kilns in India, based on estimates from the National Sample Survey (NSS) 2007-08 employment- unemployment and migration survey, and a review of field studies. Characterised by traditional modes of production, low capital- intensity, seasonal employment patterns and lack of adequate regulations, the brick industry is a significant site for interrogating variegated issues that lie at the intersection of migration, labour markets and urbanisation. The analysis herein sheds light on the spatial concentrations of brick- kiln workers, which are along urban peripheries and driven by migrants. The phenomenon of jodi labour, referring to family based labour (typically of husband and wife) that characterises brick- kiln work is explicated using NSS estimates. The analysis concludes that the modes and modalities of employment in brick-kilns combined with piece-rated wage payments raises complex issues that call for consideration. At the same time, an understanding of the spatial concentration of kilns could help with interventions with regard to expanding the outreach of the Construction Workers' Welfare Board (CWWB) and facilities for accompanying children of the migrant workers.