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

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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 India’s 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 government’s 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 Delhi’s population, started gathering at the city’s 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 wave’s effects on healthcare systems are visible and far-reaching, we might anticipate likely, less visible implications on food availability and distribution for underserved populations.

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Updated On : 21st Nov, 2022
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