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

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Overcoming Precarity: How Informal Women Workers Coped During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns worsened the working conditions for women in the informal economy, resulting in loss of jobs, food insecurity, and reverse migration from cities to rural areas, more often than not along with their families. This article presents findings from an evaluation and looks at how informal women workers, such as domestic workers, beedi rollers and agricultural workers, fared in the states of Jharkhand and West Bengal during the pandemic. It looks at the impact of collectivisation efforts through SEWA’s programme to assuage the socio-economic challenges that emerged for these informal women workers.

Gendered Experiences of COVID-19: Women, Labour, and Informal Sector

Gendered experiences of COVID-19 are shaped by the intersection of inequalities in the labour markets, intrahousehold power relations during stay-at-home and lockdown orders in the matters concerning care, stress and domestic violence; working from home along with housework, gendered experiences of household responsibilities, domestic violence, sexual violence and child sexual abuse in camps/shelter homes, mental health issues, personal care and frontline healthcare service to the family members. Differential impact of COVID-19 infection and resultant mortality and morbidity rates by gender, caste, ethnicity, and class was also due to arbitrary nature of the state intervention for food security, absence of shelter for migrants workers rendered homeless due to inability to pay rent, inaccessibility of testing for coronavirus and highly inadequate social protection responses to COVID-19.

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?

Violence in Times of COVID-19 Lack of Legal Protection for Women Informal Workers

The present article is contextualised within the increasing cases of violence and harassment in the lives of women workers in the informal sector and deeply entrenched labour market discrimination in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The article tries to analyse the impact of the pandemic particularly on the women workers in the informal sector through an examination of existing legal protection measures, access to social security and the issue of violence and harassment.

Time for a Massive Fiscal Stimulus

Only bold interventions by the government can ensure a quick recovery of the economy.

The Tragedy of Bridge Management in West Bengal

Recurrent bridge collapses in West Bengal point out to the lack of coordinated institutional arrangements in the governance of bridge infrastructures in the state. Accountability in designing and construction, and supervision and maintenance, which strengthen different tiers of bridge governance system, are missing. Given the dearth of skilled workforce and the physical infrastructure for supervision, bridge maintenance is reduced to patchworks of painting railings and girders, without persistent evaluation of structural health and resultant repair or rehabilitation of infrastructure.

Value Added Tax Scams and Introduction of the Goods and Services Tax

In the postcolonial era, tax reforms in many developing/emerging economies resorted to indirect taxes under the presumptions of broadening the tax base and achieving horizontal equity. But, leakage in the form of evasion had challenged the attainment of these objectives, and continues doing so even after half a century of constant churning by tax architects to arrive at an optimum solution. The ease of evasion is indicative of the gap in the “lab to land” transfer of technique. From a theoretical standpoint, the goods and services tax, based on the principles of value added tax, can potentially address much of the malaise afflicting VAT in a federal polity, and may also offer the desired bridge for an informal economy to move towards the realm of formalisation in the long run.

Currency Shortage

The after-effects of the demonetisation of 500 and1,000 banknotes still continued to be felt well into 2017. A study of Pune’s local markets enumerates the impact, compounded by the confusion over the goods and services tax.

Ghettoisation of Economic Choices in a Global City

The “rise” of India on the global economic landscape has been accompanied by the revival of debates regarding the role played by social institutions such as caste, religion and gender in shaping an individual’s life chances. This paper engages with this debate by looking at a micro-level case study of the occupational choices of Muslim ex-millworkers in Mumbai city. Religion as a social institution combined with negative emotions and a lack of political patronage creates barriers for Muslims in the labour market, compelling them to seek livelihood opportunities in a ghettoised economy.

Reflections on Kalyan Sanyal’s Rethinking Capitalist Development

This article is based on a lecture delivered by the author to celebrate Kalyan Sanyal’s memory. It draws upon an email exchange between them on Sanyal’s book Rethinking Capitalist Development. It also dwells on the important issues that Sanyal raised with particular reference to India.

Atal Pension Yojana

The Atal Pension Yojana—an old-age pension scheme for informal sector workers—is a major initiative to ensure fixed monthly pension for the elderly. This is guaranteed by the government through the provisioning of assured rates of interest during the accumulation and distribution period. An analysis of the benefit patterns and recommendations to make the scheme more attractive for the informal sector workers is presented.

Old-Age Income Security for the Poor

While the new pension system that is being promoted in the country is appropriate for those who can save for their retirement, there is need for an alternative approach for low-income people who cannot fully provide for their retirement, for which reason a significant proportion of workers may not be able to benefit from the new system.

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