A Short-spanned Career and a Blurry Future: Migrants from North-East India in Hospitality and Retail


  • Priyakshi Baruah Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia University


Out-migration from North-East India, North-East migrants, hospitality and retail jobs, livelihood and aspirations, job insecurity.


Composed in their demeanor and well-groomed in appearance, standing outside restaurants as hosts or tip-toeing around in busy shop-floors, working as veins of the neo-liberal service economy, young men and women from India’s north-east form a significant lot as hospitality and retail workers in some of the major cities of India. This category of workers have been studied through lenses such as interactive services, aesthetic labour, emotional labour, etc. Using these as conceptual tools, the present paper tries to locate migrants from the North-East in the concerned occupational sector and understand their position in terms of career aspirations and job security. The research is qualitative in nature and is based on a series of interviews and informal conversations with men and women from the North-East working in different retail spaces like shopping malls, restaurants and salons in Delhi, and individuals who have returned to their home-towns after having worked a few years in the industry. Findings of the study bring attention to the complex relationships that exist between identities, employment and aspirations.


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