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

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COVID-19 and India’s Ongoing Migration Fiasco

Drawing on empirical research with migrant populations, this article identifies four interlinked issues critical to understanding and addressing the contemporary migrant crisis that unfolded in India in the wake of COVID-19. These are (i) labour market segmentation by class, caste, and gender; (ii) inaccessibility of urban housing and services that challenge urban survival; (iii) differential access to documentation, which shapes the hierarchies of citizenship; and (iv) ineffective data that lets migrants slip through the gaps of welfare provision.

Emerging Pattern and Trend of Migration in Megacities

Rural-to-urban migration, particularly between states, towards megacities continues to contribute to their overall growth, although the trajectory of migration is shifting towards smaller cities. Based on analysing the census figures from 2001 to 2011 and the National Sample Survey Office data,...

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Formal Sector Crisis in IT and ITeS

The information technology and information technology-enabled services sector in India have largely been opaque, with little known about its social profile, work conditions, and office culture. The sector hides its everyday workings behind massive revenue figures and the number of jobs in the organised sector it has created. What slips through the cracks is the precarious nature of these permanent jobs and the shocking ineffectiveness of employee protections. These vulnerabilities, built into the employment and work culture of the sector, acquired a nightmarish quality during the COVID-19 pandemic. With most IT companies being forced to shift their employees to work-from-home formats, it is crucial to study how these vulnerabilities have affected the latter. This paper draws upon media reports, a short online survey, and telephonic interviews to highlight the working conditions in the IT and ITeS sector, the experience of working from home, and the overall state of its permanent employment.

Before the Gig Economy

Studying Delhi’s radio taxi industry, this paper traces the transitional process of traditional taxi services in the capital to radio taxi services and finally to the current app-based taxi aggregators. The radio taxi companies ruptured old kinship ties and informal relations with a combination of technology, surveillance, and finance—a process app-based taxi aggregators have further refined. There is also an account of the labour struggles in the industry that preceded the advent of the platform economy.

Iron Ore Mines in Jharkhand

The many provisions granted under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 remain elusive when the absence of a direct employer–employee relationship mars their rights and chances of a meaningful work life. The article reviews the contract labour system as maintained in an iron ore mine in Jharkhand.

The Sraffa Canon

A Reflection on Sraffa’s Revolution in Economic Theory edited by Ajit Sinha, Palgrave Macmillan, 2021; pp xxv+ 601, ₹ 14,821 (hardcover).

Inflation, Debt Sustainability, and Government Borrowing in the Time of the Pandemic

Public borrowing is essential to garner resources to combat the current pandemic. The ability to do so and adhere to the standard norms of debt sustainability will be harder for developing economies as compared to the developed, due to constraints, both structural and policy-induced. High food infl ation and the adoption of infl ation targeting will impose severe constraints on the ability to expand borrowing and maintain low levels of debt-to-GDP. In such a situation, governments must either rethink monetary policy and/or allow for debt ratios to rise.

Housing for Migrant Workers

With there being almost no housing policies for lower income migrant workers in the country, Kerala has attempted to address this problem by introducing a state-level housing policy called Apna Ghar. This article examines the policy’s effectiveness by exploring the “housing–work” relation in the existing housing sub-markets in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, in which the residential typologies inhabited by such worker groups are examined as to their economic affordability, service/amenities adequacy, workplace accessibility and ease of renting/shifting habitations.

Inclusivity and Growth under the ‘Dravidian Model’

The Dravidian Model: Interpreting the Political Economy of Tamil Nadu by A Kalaiyarasan and M Vijayabaskar, Cambridge University Press, 2021; pp 260.

Income Distribution and Aggregate Demand in the Indian Economy

Does there exist a trade-off between labour income share and output growth rate? Or does a reduction in the wage share reduces the output growth rate? These questions remain central for analysing the impact of change in income distribution on the output growth rate. Since the dilution and suspension of labour laws involve exogenous changes in income distribution, the impact of such policies would depend on the relationship between income distribution and aggregate demand. This paper attempts to lay bare this relationship for the Indian economy through an empirical analysis of India’s macro data and a theoretical model based on the regression results.

Building Workers under the New Labour Codes

In October 2020, the Bharatiya Janata Party-controlled Parliament had, in a tearing hurry, passed the remaining three labour codes— the Industrial Relations Code, Code on Social Security, and Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code. The versions of these codes tabled before the Parliament were never put out in the public domain for comments. The codes were passed within a day through the Lok Sabha without proper debate, and the next day, they were introduced and passed as the opposition boycotted the Rajya Sabha. With this, many labour law legislations, rights, and protections stand undone in the name of a mere consolidation exercise. This article attempts to scrutinise how the Social Security Code and the Occupation Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code could affect the lives and rights of workers in the construction industry.

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