The present-day state of Uttarakhand, India and Sudurpaschim Province of Nepal have historically shared close socio-economic, cultural and political ties with each other. While demarcation of international borders under the Treaty of Sugauli, 1816 transformed territoriality and political landscape for the two regions, migration continues to be a strong connecting link between the people and their economy. Today, male migrants (mostly seasonal) from Nepal’s Sudurpashchim Province constitute a major part of Uttarakhand’s informal economy – a state which itself is wrought by mass outmigration ‘crisis’, and unsustainable development marked by administrative neglect.

The paper looks at the specific vulnerabilities of migrants from Sudurpaschim Province, Nepal to the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. It combines existing evidence from literature and data (National Census 2011, Nepal and Census of India, 2011, secondary sources etc.) with primary qualitative studies (longform interviews) undertaken by the authors with migrant workers in Uttarakhand. In doing so, the paper makes a case for migrants from Sudurpaschim Province in Uttarakhand as a distinct subset of Nepalese migrants in India. Further, how does mobility unfold when workers move from one marginality to another across borders? How does ‘open border’ make this workforce ‘discrete yet invisibilised’ at destination?


1. Introduction: Why Sudurpaschim Province and Uttarakhand?

2. Historical background and conceptual framework: Geo-economic marginalisation, vulnerability and migrant integration in India.

3. Methodology

4. Findings: Migration trend from Sudurpaschim region to India, choice of destination, district-wise migration patterns from Sudurpaschim to India and Uttarakhand against the larger backdrop of geo-economic marginalisation of both regions.

a. From Sudurpaschim to Uttarakhand: Analysing migration journeys to India, based on reasons of migration, age and occupation.

b. Occupation at destination: Informality, wages & social networks.

c. Marginalisation and vulnerability at destination: Seasonality, access to documentation & lack of institutional mechanisms. 5. Conclusion: Racialisation of labour, open borders and labour protection