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

LockdownSubscribe to Lockdown

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.

 

Regional Lockdown Policies and COVID-19 Transmission in India

Do lockdowns and mobility restrictions contain the spread of COVID-19? Data was collected on district-level non-pharmaceutical interventions, using government notifications and news reports, in six major Indian states to assess the impact of NPIs on COVID-19 transmission and fatality in 2020. Findings suggest that NPIs slowed COVID-19 death rates in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Interventions that were most associated with slowing fatalities were temple closures, retail closures, and curfews. Even with incomplete compliance, limiting mass gatherings in face of incipient viral waves may save lives.

 

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. 

Closure of Schools and Migration of Adolescent Tribal Girls

This paper is an empirical study of the consequences of the prolonged closure of schools and other educational institutions for adolescent tribal girls, migrating to the construction sector of Surat in search of work.

COVID-19 and the Women at Work

Delhi has witnessed a massive disruption of livelihood and economic activities due to COVID-19. With a historical context of an abandoned mine housing refugee families at the contours of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhatarpur, Sanjay Colony is a slum that is far removed from the everyday hustle of the city. This paper explores the ways in which initiatives by women during the COVID-19 pandemic changed the neighbourhood character and opened up the possibilities of reimagining place-making with the objective of establishing sustainable economic engagement. It focuses on the shift that has taken place from daily wage employment at nearby construction sites to self-employment by women. With initiatives like mobilising for relief work by the Bhatti Mahila Evam Bal Vikas Mandal to spearheading the renovation of the crematorium grounds, engaging in road construction, and even working towards organising a market led by women producers and sellers, the slum created opportunities to rethink street livelihood amidst the pandemic. This paper brings forth an ethnographic account of how women propelled the reimagination of the neighbourhood through their nano-enterpreneurship.

 

How Places Matter

The paper looks at the phenomenon of forced resignations in the garment industry in Karnataka during the pandemic. It demonstrates how workers’ responses to forced resignations were determined by whether they were located in the city (Bengaluru) or a small town (Srirangapatna) and calls for an engagement with the local geographies to understand the experiences of women garment workers.

 

COVID-19 and the State of Exception

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed that the shared taxis in Shillong are governed in an exception to the Motor Vehicles Act, thus rendering the lives of transport operators and users precarious. This precarity stands upon an underlining political consensus that gives power and authority to the executive to order the city even if in violation of the law that is supposed to govern it.

 

Intensifying Urbanities in Karachi

Millennial Karachi is an “intense city” with compounding precarities of varying scales. The COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another layer of uncertainty. Through an engagement with the concept of the intense city, the pandemic’s regulation and hopeful prospects in the state’s new welfare policies are considered. 

 

Pandemic Precarity

This paper focuses on the social experiences of migrant informal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It argues how institutions in the realms of the state, market, and civil society interacted and created conditions of precarity unique to the pandemic. How dominant frameworks that explain the praxis of entitlements fail to capture such infringement arising from the overlaps and intersections between the state, market, and civil society are highlighted in this paper. 

 

Recovery as Resilience

Drawing upon the two surveys of domestic workers in Jaipur in May and November 2020, this paper traces the contours of “recovery” from the pandemic beyond just returning to work. Instead, it argues that the estimations of recovery must have a deeper consideration of savings and debt, looks at the changes in employment dynamics, and marks the shifting bargaining capacities of workers. 

Pandemic and the City

The seven papers in this collection were developed from abstracts selected from the submissions in response to a call issued in July 2021. At the time of the call, the second wave of the pandemic was receding.

Surviving Debt and Survival Debt in Times of Lockdown

This research has been made possible due to the financial support of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), through the COVINDIA project, which combines food distribution to villagers and a survey of villagers’ survival tactics and strategies. For more details, see https://odriis.hypotheses.org/projects#covindia. We sincerely thank Barbara Harriss-White, Judith Heyer, Solène Morvant-Roux, and Jean-Michel Servet for their helpful comments on an earlier draft.

 
 

Pages

Back to Top