Covid-19 and Women Migrant Workers: The Situation of the Most Vulnerable

The Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented months-long lockdown that followed in India had a shocking impact on every sector – particularly health and economy, which forced lawmakers and the average citizen to see the hidden realities of the workers who are mostly invisible in terms of their social presence while their contributions are not. Migration and the workers who undertake them became important subjects of study as a clear distinction was drawn between those who work in the formal and informal sector. Sukanya Bhattacharya writes about the situation of women migrant workers during the pandemic.

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Report on the webinar: “Covid 19 and Migrant Labour: Laws, Policies, Practices”

The pandemic Covid-19 in India is not a new issue, but its impacts are still being felt all over the country – by all classes, professions and genders. The central government and state governments have tried to deal with the pandemic by creating new laws and policies – but it is debatable how much of it is yielding positive results and if those laws and policies are being practised in the first place. Apart from the pandemic, there have been developments which have made the political atmosphere of the country tense as there have been arrests and interrogations of activists. Almost every Indian has reflected on the police and their actions at time when majority of the people are at their most vulnerable. The Supreme Court’s role amidst all of this has been also been debated. In such a context, scholar Kalpana Kannabiran and journalist Bharat Bhushan engaged in an important discussion about these questions with K.M. Parivelan moderating the session. Sukanya Bhattacharya reports on the webinar organized on 30th July.

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Report on the Webinar: ‘Migrants, Morality, Middle Class and Pandemic’ by Rakesh M. Krishnan

The current pandemic and the consequent travesty that the migrant labourers have had to face has generated an unprecedented response from Indian society. Most of the middle and upper class had come out on social media to contribute to the growing discussion about the plight of the labourers. However, most of these responses are short-lived, individual and singular in nature. The speaker Rakesh M. Krishnan put up a comparative picture where on one hand, middle class people share news articles about the labourer’s death and right after that, share pictures of some delicacy they have cooked along with the rest of their family in their protected homes. This dichotomy has existed for a long time in society but has probably become even more apparent in the present context. Hence, the narrative of ‘3Ms’ – migrants, morality and middle class in the backdrop of a pandemic that Krishnan builds is an important narrative which is bound to be uncomfortable but is also necessary. Sukanya Bhattacharya reports on the webinar organized by Christ University Trivandrum on 22nd June, 2020.

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Report on ‘CoVid-19 : Public Health and the Sudden Visibility of Migrant Workers’

Migrant laborers are not an anomaly in Indian society and almost everybody is aware of their existence and the work they do. However, it is the current socioeconomic and health crisis brought on by the pandemic Covid-19 which has amplified our focus on these otherwise ignored migrant laborers and the difficulties they have to face. Social media, news as well as public opinion has varied greatly on the issue but there seems to be a consensus on the fact that India probably saw a great many deaths of these laborers before an equal number of people died due to Covid-19. Due to the sudden lockdown of all transport systems, lack of information and a great amount of mismanagement on the part of the states as well as central authority – many of these laborers have had to undertake inter-state journeys on foot with all their belongings on their shoulders. This has been extensively captured and documented by the media which has then shaped public opinion. In such a context where these migrant laborers are suddenly under the spotlight, Ranabir Samaddar and Samita Sen spoke in a webinar titled ‘CoVid-19 : Public Health and the Sudden Visibility of Migrant Workers’, organized by CRG (as part of its webinar series #bordersofanepidemic). Sukanya Bhattacharya reports on the webinar organized on 12th June, 2020.

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