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

COVID and Migrant WorkersSubscribe to COVID and Migrant Workers

​A Pandemic Parable

Returning Migrant Workers and the Sound of Empty Vessels A satirical take on a couple watching, from the wings, as migrant workers walked thousands of kilometres back to their villages one year ago.

The Lockdown in India

The coronavirus pandemic, nationwide lockdown and the Indian demography are explored through the prisms of caste, class and gender. There is an evident link between the degree of vulnerability and susceptibility of certain people falling prey to the ills of the lockdown and the overlapping effects of class, caste and gender they belong to.

Impact of Lockdown Relief Measures on Informal Enterprises and Workers

Much has been said and written about the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the Indian economy, the stimulus packages announced by the Government of India and the sad plight of the migrant workers. This article brings into focus segments of the economy that constitute the bottom of the labour hierarchy, namely microenterprises, construction workers, street vendors and domestic workers. Will the relief measure help refigure their livelihoods after the lockdown is lifted?

Restoring Employment and Rural Landscapes

The national lockdown unleashed an unprecedented economic crisis on millions of poor urban migrants who lost their employment and were forced to “reverse-migrate” to their homes on foot over vast distances. However, the rural areas—from where they originated—were already reeling under severe and rapid economic and ecological degradation and were ill-equipped to deal with this sudden increase in the demand for livelihood opportunities. In this paper, we demonstrate the potential of “ecological restoration” of primarily rural landscapes in India to generate rapid and high-volume employment along with other co-benefits.

COVID-19-led Migrant Crisis

The genesis and evolution of the COVID-19-led migrant crisis in India, along with the institutional responses, is discussed. The focus is on the shortcomings of the response, especially taking into consideration the curtailment of human mobility, which pushed migrants into enormous physical, psychological, and economic vulnerability, and the short-, medium-, and long-term measures provided by the government in order to alleviate them. Alternate policy measures to ensure migrant welfare in the immediate future are suggested.

Why It Makes Sense to Leave and Stay Gone

India experienced a mass exodus of informal sector workers who were heading out of cities, bound homewards. Given the paucity of transport infrastructure, this is translating into one of the greatest mass tragedies of post-independence India. This has been rationalised as a combination of people moving out because of a lockdown-induced loss of earnings and irrational fears stoked by the pandemonium. This exodus is, in fact, a perfectly rational response to the rapid spread of the virus in informal housing localities. Three different policies are outlined whose combination could have, and can still, reduce, if not entirely stop, the exodus.

Reverse Migration of Labourers amidst COVID-19

Migrant workers returning to native places in COVID-19 times were the host for urban to rural transmission of cases as the migrant-receiving states witnessed over five times increase in the number of districts having a more significant concentration of COVID-19 cases from 1 May to 31 May 2020. There is an urgent need for the skill mapping of the migrant workforce and creating social security schemes to protect them under any socio-economic or health emergency.

Migration Governance in a Pandemic: What Can We Learn from India’s Treatment of Migrants in the Gulf?

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the loss of livelihood for many Indian migrants working abroad. In light of this, an inclusive migration governance framework is the need of the hour to provide Indian workers with a social safety net during crises.

Migrant Workers and the Politics of Mental Health

The roping in of tertiary care mental health institutes by the government in providing individualised (tele) counselling services to migrant workers needs to be viewed with caution. Instead of acting as a catalyst in upholding the dignity and human rights of migrant daily wage workers who were left high and dry, mental health practice, shaped by political and institutional influences, provided “counselling” to lakhs of people who bore the brunt of governmental apathy during the pandemic crisis.

Impacts of COVID-19 on Labour

The costs of the pandemic disproportionately fall on labour.

Locked Down, Trapped and Abandoned Migrant Workers in Pune City

A survey of workers in Pune city who were waiting to go back home after the national lockdown was first announced shows their plight and living conditions. Its findings provide valuable insights on what migrant workers need and what the policy decisions regarding them should consider.

Social Security for Migrant Workers during COVID-19

The unprecedented public health crisis due to COVID-19 has thrown the vulnerability of migrant construction workers into sharp relief. Most of them are not enrolled in any social protection scheme, and those who are, have been only provided with contingencies. These measures are inadequate to address the multidimensional deprivations and fundamental causes of vulnerability arising due to globalisation and a changing labour market, which has been exacerbated by the current crisis.

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