Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Emigration has always arisen mainly from the difficulty of finding an adequate livelihood in one's native place, and this is the predominant force which impels the Indian villager to seek industrial employment. Over large parts of India, the number of persons on the land is much greater than the number required to cultivate it and appreciably in excess of the number it can comfortably support. In most areas, pressure on the land has been increasing steadily for a long time and a rise in the general standard of living has made this pressure more acutely felt. There has always been a substantial class of landless labourers, earning a meagre living in good seasons and apt to be reduced to penury in bad ones. The loss of land through indebtedness, the need or desire of a landlord to increase his own cultivation, quarrels, the death of the title-holder and other causes, bring fresh recruits to this class.
Among those who retain tenancies, various changes may operate to render a holding insufficient for those dependent on it. An increase in the number of members of the family, a rise in rent, the growth of debt, all contribute to force the agricultural worker to abandon his ancestral occupation.
Moreover, there are always large areas where the soil can produce enough for the people in the ordinary year, but where periodic drought or floods make living precarious. A generation ago there was, in some of these areas, no alternative to facing the penury of the lean years; but the opening up of the country by the improvement of communications has offered a way of escape. Migration has, in fact, been dependent upon opportunity. It is noteworthy, for example, that where a connection was established between a factory and a particular village or group of villages, recruits would continue to come from these, while adjacent areas yielded none. Some of the minor currents in the streams of migration owe their force to little more than accident.