From Sitamarhi to New Delhi Railway Station: The Agricultural Antecedents to Childhood Migration in North India


  • Daniel Rosenblum University of Vermont



In India, large-scale rural to urban migrations are occurring in record numbers within the last twenty to thirty years. These migrations are inflating the populations of major urban centers such as Delhi and Mumbai. Within these streams of migrations, the number of youth leaving to cities is also dramatically increasing. At the same time, deep agricultural transformations are taking place in rural sectors, greatly altering the landscape, the opportunities available, and ultimately the livelihoods of its people.

This paper aims to address the agricultural transformations occurring in India in relation to the migration of children from rural to urban centers. With a shifting, but uneven system of landholding, climatic changes, increasing mechanization and industrialization of agriculture, and new development projects, the agrarian system in rural India is rapidly changing. Using interviews from a variety of experts as well as urban and rural informants, I will draw connections between multiple transformations in agriculture with the increase of children running away to major cities, in turn acknowledging that within this complex system of movement, there are innumerable reasons for the migration of youth. In this manner, I make clear the interconnections between issues of agriculture and
other socioeconomic, political, and historical factors. This research comes primarily from extended stays in Delhi in addition to rural villages in Bihar.