ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Pandemic Lessons

Delhi’s Quest to Universalise Food Security

Eesha Kunduri ( is a PhD student at the Department of Geography, Environment and Society, and fellow, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Shamindra Nath Roy ( is a senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Shahana Sheikh ( is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political Science, Yale University.

The authors gratefully acknowledge comments from Partha Mukhopadhyay, and conversations with Sunil Kumar and Ashok Kumari that have informed this article. Views expressed are the authors’ own. Authors are listed alphabetically by last name, and all authors contributed equally to this work.


How did Indias capital of more than 20 million widen its food security net to reach underserved populations during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown? Using publicly available data, government orders and insights from informal settlements, the article discusses the lessons from the Delhi governments food relief efforts on universalising food security benefits.

As Delhi faced a second deadly wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with a daily positivity rate of 32.7% on the last day of April 2021 in comparison to 6.8% during the last surge (mid-September) 2020, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) announced an extended lockdown to contain the viral transmission under existing conditions of crumbling health infrastructure and rising death tolls. As yet another season of uncertainty associated with livelihood, housing and food insecurities lurks, scores of migrants, who constitute 42% of Delhis population, started gathering at the citys bus terminals. Reminiscent of the large-scale exodus of migrants from the city about a year ago, the situation points to deep-rooted spatial exclusions and socio-economic vulnerabilities faced by urban migrants. Even as the second waves effects on healthcare systems are visible and far-reaching, we might anticipate likely, less visible implications on food availability and distribution for underserved populations.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.