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

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COVID-19 and Women Informal Sector Workers in India

The precarious nature of employment of women informal workers is examined using data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2018–19). To capture the gendered experiences of informal workers during the lockdown period, data from a series of rapid assessment studies is used. It was found that the unequal gendered division of domestic chores existed even before the onset of the pandemic, but the COVID-19- induced lockdowns have further worsened the situation. In terms of paid employment, women tend to work in risky, hazardous and stigmatised jobs as front-line health workers, waste-pickers, domestic workers, but do not receive the minimum wages as specified by the government.

Spectacle as a Response

The way Covid-19 pandemic is being understood and addressed makes it a spectacle in the Debordian sense, in which all the social relations are mediated through images and appearances. Where even the desire of a safe and healthy life is dealt not with dignity, and effective, accessible healthcare, but through virtual images. Such a spectacle, in turn, creates a world that would be connected more, while the people would live a fragmented life on which they will increasingly lose their control.

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.

Indian Public Health Associations on COVID-19

Leading Indian professional associations of public health have released a second joint statement on 25 May 2020, on the COVID-19 pandemic and its management in the country. The central issue they raise is the ignoring of technical advice of the country’s leading experts and institutions in decision-making about strategies for handling the pandemic. The larger politics of knowledge in public health and its interdisciplinary requirements are discussed.

Need for a Strong and Reliable Statistical System in India

The evolution and organisation of the Indian statistical system is reviewed with particular emphasis on social sector statistics. In the light of recent experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, some evident lacunae in the system of collecting, synchronising, and disseminating data from diverse sources are discussed. The critical need for better financing of the statistical agencies, facilitating homogeneous integration between different agencies, and promoting transparency, accountability, and autonomy of the statistical system are highlighted as key priorities.

Why Bihar’s Record in Handling COVID-19 Is Dismal

Among the states, Bihar faces the greatest challenge, particularly in terms of the reverse migration occurring from the lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering the poor state of its health services infrastructure, the state government should have taken urgent and appropriate measures to screen, test and quarantine the returning migrant workers. This article takes a look at the trajectory of the government’s response to the health crisis.

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.

Social Distancing and Sex Workers in India

The deplorable condition of sex workers in India amidst the COVID-19 lockdown is discussed. Prostitution, now called sex work, has been a historical reality with cultural connotations. However, a significant amount of shame and stigma is attached to the profession wherein it is not even seen as work. Social distancing and the lockdown have left sex workers across the country in poverty and hunger. There is a need to address the issues of this section of the society from a human rights’ perspective.

COVID-19: Mental Healthcare without Social Justice?

Mental health is not just about absence of mental illness. It is critical that the government takes long-term economic and mental health policy measures to ensure employment, basic amenities and public health, without which mental healthcare cannot address the debilitating effects of ongoing structural violence on a majority of citizens.

Our Essential Workers Need Essential Care

Through personal interviews of healthcare workers in India, the state of front-line workers in dealing with Covid-19 in the country is discussed. Lack of personal protective equipment and beds as well as the caste system that operates when it comes to doing cleaning work in the hospitals aggravates the already debilitating condition of healthcare personnel. Despite being the most important stakeholders of health in rural areas, the accredited social health activists are leading a life full of struggles.

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