Skip to main content

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team 

A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI.
The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People’s Association in Grassroots Action and Movement (PAIGAM); Mr Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid Association India, and Prof Irudaya Rajan, Chairman, International Institute of Migration and Development (IIMAD) and a Former Professor, Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Kerala.
Commencing the program, the chair for the session, Dr Devendar Singh set the tone of the stage with an introductory remark by exclaiming about the conditions of migrants during the lockdown. He vocalized the pathetic situations of migrants as they felt ‘alienated’ because of the fear and treatment they were getting from their employers. He further said that the circumstances became more woeful when various migrants, especially old people, pregnant women, and children, had to overcome nature’s elements and flee transporters, policemen, etc. He further stated that India awoke to the migrant movement by raising various questions like why they were leaving, where they were leaving, and many more, and received media coverage as well. He expressed that there were various opportunities as government ask employers and landlords to take care of employees that act as a source of, data collection from them and helped in formulating various policies.
Dr Bhagat started with the positive impacts of the migrant movement he said that there had been the introduction of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’, and secondly implementation of the rental housing scheme. And third, was the introduction of the portal and various skill development programs were introduced and there was registration and tracking of migrants. He further gave various solutions to the problems that migrants faced. He stated that there was an epistemic failure that we were facing as we failed to recognize their place-based identity and further emphasized the importance of ‘where’ in the migration process rather than how and what they were getting.
Prof Arun Kumar emphasized the importance of migration especially the displacement of people from rural to urban areas. He further categorized the migrants into employed and unemployed by bifurcating them into four sub-categories. He focused on the problem of inequality and development paradigm as he said that according to studies of Azim Premji, 90% of migrants in urban areas claimed that they had zero per cent savings and they had to work daily and earn. Due to trickle-down policies organized sector got the most investment as compared to the unorganized and as a result urban areas generated more jobs as compared to rural areas due to which migrants have to move to urban areas. He further answered various questions on ideologies of government behind demand and supply mechanisms as well as the idea behind formulating laws on agricultural bills and also discussed the situations of Bihar in regard to remittance status.
Ms Akriti Bhatia further raised various key issues in respect of hygiene issues such as access to clean water, basic amenities, etc. She said that there was forced formalization as the cost was imposed on them the benefits derived were far less which raised inequality. She further threw light on the gig economy that absorbed an educated and skilled workforce due to underreporting of data. various Alarming issues were reported such as poor sections of the society i.e street vendors were facing forced evictions, domestic workers were being discriminated against by the owners and there was not much increase in public spending, and these migrants had to face discrimination in terms of unequal ration distribution that increase the divide between the small and big economies. Labour laws were forcefully passed seeking race to the bottom to equalize the organized and unorganized sectors but in reality, the results were something else. She further emphasized the pathetic conditions of women during the lockdown by stating that there was a rise in domestic violence and reluctance to join the workforce again after the pandemic.
Prof Irudaya Rajan started by raising concern about the availability of inadequate data on the number of migrants in the country and emphasized on lack of funds for migration studies. He focused on how Kerala tackled the situation of migrants pre, during, and post-pandemic which works as the base for further studies of different states. Migrants faced fears such as lack of food so the Kerala government opened community kitchens with the collaboration of one nation one ration card and contemplates the survey showed that urbanization leads to economic goals via smart cities. Smart cities, in turn, promote migration whereas there were no policies for migrants, and during covid, migrants were treated as carriers of the virus studies showed that only a few were affected and were not the actual carriers of COVID-19.
Mr Sandeep Chachra discussed employment scenarios on employment in urban areas with a focus on public urban engagement. Despite Kerala, five other states made policies on public urban employment and there is still fuzziness about the guarantees that this scheme provided. He raised concern about women’s workforce participation as it was drastically falling before the pandemic and he supported this with the help of a survey conducted with 17000 people that states that wage disparities had been raised during covid and emphasized the need for a fair evaluation of a homogeneous workforce. Frontline workers especially health workers were in the limelight during covid that provides evidence that these informal workers were necessary for the existence of society.
Ending this informative session, the moderator, Dr Devender Singh gave his concluding remarks and discussed various takeaways, and thanked all the eminent panellists for bringing in diverse perspectives. The training program ended with a vote of thanks by Aanchal Kumari on behalf of IMPRI Center for Human Centre for human dignity and development IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute.

Acknowledgement: Bhanvi, research intern at IMPRI



Dev Anand ably acted as westernised, urban educated, modern hero, as also anti-hero

By Harsh Thakor  On September 26th we celebrated the birth centenary of legendary actor Dev Anand. Dev Saab carved out a new epoch or made a path breaking contribution in portraying romanticism and action in Bollywood cinema, giving his style or mannerisms a new colour. Arguably no Bollywood star manifested glamour in such a dignified or serene manner or struck the core of an audience’s soul in romantic melodies. Possibly we missed this evergreen star being cast in a Hollywood film. Dev Anand is like an inextinguishable soul of Bollywood. Although not as artistic or intense as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor or Ashok Kumar ,Dev Anand surpassed them all for liveliness or flamboyance, with his performances radiating g energy on the screen, in realms rarely transcended. In his own right, Dev Saab, was a craftsman, like his classical contemporaries, with a characteristic composure. Perhaps never was a Bollywood star so suave, bubbling or charming as Dev Anand, who often looked like an Indian versi

Why Govt of India, Sangh Parivar want to stop the use of ‘India’? What's in a name?

By Ram Puniyani  Coincidentally after the opposition parties came together to form INDIA (Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance), the ruling BJP is desisting from the use of word India in official communiqués and its parent organizations RSS has issued a fatwa that only word Bharat should be used for our country. While inviting the representative’s participants of G 20, the President issued the invitation in the name of ‘Rashtrapati of Bharat’. Since then BJP is on the track of avoiding the use of the word India in all its pronouncements, saying this word smacks of colonial legacy since this word was given to the country by British colonial rulers. Mr. Hemant Biswa Sarma of BJP said that word India is part of the colonial legacy and should be removed. RSS chief and other functionaries have intensified this message. Speaking at a function at Guwahati Mr. Bhagwat, stated “We must stop using the word India and start using Bharat. At times we use India to make those who speak Eng

Significant step towards empowering and particularly engaging with informal workers

ActionAid note on drive to empower informal sector workers Odisha with the support of District Labour Department: *** The Odisha Unorganised Workers Social Security Board (OUWSSB) facilitated an Unorganized Workers Awareness Camp at the Red Cross Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The event took place in collaboration with the District Labour Department at Khordha, Centre for Child and Women Development and ActionAid Association. This informative event aimed at empowering informal sector workers by disseminating crucial information regarding their eligibility for various social security schemes provided by the Government of Odisha.

Grassroots NGO enlightens people of Kupwara with intricacies of Right to Information

J&K RTI Foundation and Founder Civil Rights Movement Kupwara note on how RTI Pend is empowering Kupwara with insights on Right to Information Act: *** RTI Pend, the grassroots initiative aimed at democratizing access to information, hosted its 2nd event in Kupwara. On the request of the Civil Rights Movement Kupwara, this event was tailored to enlighten the people of Kupwara with the intricacies of the Right to Information Act, presented in their local language and dialects. The event successfully bridged both offline and online participation, addressing queries on the spot and offering applicants practical solutions.

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Why originality of Gandhi's thoughts, example of his life still inspire people world over

By Moin Qazi*  Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary reopens a familiar debate around his legacy every year. How could a frail man use his moral strength to galvanize 400 million Indians in their struggle for independence from the mighty British Empire? How did Gandhi inspire ordinary people to turn fear into fearlessness and anger into love? What were his tools for fighting colonialism? How could he inspire the world to embrace his philosophy of nonviolence? What can we learn from him today? And is he still relevant?

Regretful: Kapil Dev retired not leaving Indian cricket with integrity he upheld

By Harsh Thakor  Kapil Dev scaled heights as an entertainer and a player upholding the spirit of the game almost unparalleled in his era. In his time he was cricket’s ultimate mascot of sportsmanship On his day Kapil could dazzle in all departments to turn the tempo of game in the manner of a Tsunami breaking in. He radiated r energy, at a level rarely scaled in his era on a cricket field. Few ever blended aggression with artistry so comprehenisively. Although fast medium, he could be as daunting with the ball as the very best, with his crafty outswinger, offcutter, slower ball and ball that kicked from a good length. Inspite of bowling on docile tracks on the subcontinent, Kapil had 434 scalps, with virtually no assistance. I can never forget how he obtained pace and movement on flat pancakes, trapping the great Vivian Richards in Front or getting Geoff Boycott or Zaheer Abbas caught behind. No paceman carried the workload of his team’s bowling attack on his shoulders in his eras muc

Sewer workers not given ESI cards that would ensure health benefits they need the most

A note by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), an organization working for the issues of sanitation workers in Delhi NCR, on right to life and dignity which still seems light years away for sewer workers: *** Exploitation of Sewer workers is not just a labour issue, but it is rooted in the caste system and cannot be separated from the historical socio-religious-cultural-economic exploitation of the Dalit community! Stated Mr. Y.S. Gill, Senior Journalist and Documentary Film maker in the press conference organised by Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) in Integrated Social Initiatives (ISI), Lodhi Road, New Delhi on issues of sewer workers in Delhi. The press conference was attended by a number of community members, activists, members of the civil society, students etc.

Agro-biodiversity through seed identification, conservation, replication, crop selection

By Kuntal Mukherjee, Basant Yadav, Shivnath Yadav* This article is mainly based on a journey of the three of us since 2010 based on field experience, study of different articles, reflective journeys with local community based organisations, villagers and practitioners in Chhattisgarh. The slow growth of Agriculture in India with near stagnation in productivity since mid ‘80s in contrast to the remarkable growth during the green revolution period has come to the front as a great concern. In post WTO era Indian Agriculture has been witnessing structural changes, uncontrolled influx of agriculture goods and commodities from foreign countries due to open market nature. The gradual reduction in subsidies from internal production leads to increasing cost of production of agriculture produces at the farm gate. It causes gradual decrease in internal production as well as productivity and posing threats to small farm and stakeholders. 

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.