Chitrakoot in UP Bundelkhand is one of the most backward districts of the state and the country. According to the Planning Atlas, Uttar Pradesh, 2006, which ranked districts of the state on 36 indicators of economic and human development, Chitrakoot falls in the “very low development” category, along with Banda. Even other districts of UP Bundelkhand have a higher development level.

While migration can lead to a substantial increase in family incomes, the migrants from Chitrakoot, and Bundelkhand at large, are at a disadvantage as they generally do not possess education or skills to secure high-wage work in cities. Mostly, they work as construction labourers, and in brick kilns or quarries, under exploitative and hazardous conditions. Migrants’ long periods of stay away from home also affects family life, education of children, and wellbeing of the aged.

Given this situation, it is imperative for government and non-government agencies to work out multi-pronged, sustainable strategies to improve the economic, education and health status of households in the region. The focus of one of the strategies would have to be improving returns from agriculture. This would have several benefits: distress migration would reduce, family and community bonds would be maintained, and the only asset held by poor families—their land— would be put to better use.

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