Reverse Migration during Lockdown: A Snapshot of Public Policies

Satadru Sikdar and Preksha Mishra in this new NIPFP paper:

The imposition of a nation-wide lockdown in India in response to the novel COVID-19 pandemic has appropriately been lauded as an effective pre-emptive strategy. However, a distressing pitfall has been the massive ‘reverse migration’ of migrant workers from the destination centres in an attempt to escape starvation brought on by sudden collapse of employment and lack of effective social protection mechanisms.

The pandemic has brought to the forefront of policy discussions not only the immediate issues of this particularly vulnerable group but also the broader issues pertaining to their identification and informal employment conditions. Within the migrant workers, the inter-state migrant workers have been especially affected due to non-portability of entitlements.

This paper aims to analyse the migration trends on the basis of available data from the Census of India 2001 and 2011 and to critically examine the current Public policies (Union and state governments) to address the new emerging challenges – provision of immediate relief to migrants, employment generation in source centres to sustain the in-migration and incentivising the ‘city makers’ to return to the destination centres. The paper, further, attempts to assess the issues of sufficiency and feasibility of the public policies in this regard.


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