NEW DELHI: In India, a local registered to vote is 41% more likely to get help from political representatives than an unregistered migrant. A Hindu is more likely to have access than a Muslim, and a skilled worker would stand a better chance at securing aid than an unskilled one.
In the first large-scale study of anti-migrant discrimination, two researchers have found evidence of “systemic political neglect” towards migrants. For the most pressing problems — jobs, documents, healthcare — councillors can act as the first line of aid in urban areas. So the researchers from Columbia University and University of California (San Diego) came up with an experiment, findings of which they have produced in a paper for the ‘American Journal of Political Science’.
They wrote letters to and texted 2,900 councillors in 28 major cities, as people who needed help. Only 14% got back, after seven days on an average, much lower than similar audits conducted to measure racial bias in the US (where 57% of politicians responded), China (32%) or South Africa (21%). And the already low shot at getting a response was even lower for migrants. A registered local was 41% more likely to receive a call back than an unregistered migrant. Those with Hindu names were 23% more likely to get access than those with Muslim names.
In the paper, Nikhar Gaikwad and Gareth Nellis wrote about three factors — politicians have their own biases, they channelise the prejudices of their constituents or they simply make electoral calculations.
“Politicians would be less likely to help someone whom they know had recently moved, …because they believe that moving is negatively correlated with being registered to vote locally,” Gaikwad told TOI. That’s, more or less, what fuels the “jobs for locals” calls.