The overseas Indian is usually a much loved figure, praised for his drive and ambition that took him overseas, while the domestic Indian migrant is often a much-derided figure, seen as someone who steals jobs and burdens the local economy. Data on migration does show some differences in the patterns of national and international migration but it also highlights the tendency to move to more affluent geographies (within and without the country) in search of a better life.
One big difference in national and international migration relates to the pull of the immediate neighborhood. Domestic migration in india remains a story largely of proximity. Internal migrants seek a better life, but as close to home as possible. The most common migrant has moved out of her village but remains within her district. Inter-district but within-state migration is the next most common flow, followed by inter-state migration. This is changing with time. The most recent migrants are most likely to move out of their state.
India’s immediate neighborhood south Asia on the other hand, holds little attraction for its outbound immigrants. The large numbers of Indians in south Asian countries is largely a historical artefact, brought about by the partitions of india and later Pakistan. The industrial magnet of West Asia has dominated international migration from india for decades now, with North America following some distance behind.