Destinations Matter: Social Policy and Migrant Workers in the Times of Covid

The national lockdown of India announced on March 24th 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, left millions of migrant labourers stranded in their destinations. Thrown out of their informal labour arrangements in cities and industrial centres, unable to return to their villages in the absence of transportation, they were stranded for over a month with no income, improper housing and often lack of food. This paper discusses the experiences of men migrating from Chakai block, Jamui district, Bihar, to four Indian states, namely, Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. We compare their experiences across these four destination states in relation to the social policy response following the national lockdown. Most workers are young men (16–35 years old) and their migration pattern is seasonal and circular. The emerging lessons provide inputs for social policy measures related to migrant workers in India.

Nitya Rao, Nivedita Narain, Shuvajit Chakraborty, Arundhita Bhanjdeo and Ayesha Pattnaik

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