On March 25, when the government of India implemented a lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, it brought to light a problem that has remained invisible in the minds of policymakers and in public consciousness – that of ensuring dignity and rights to a vast majority of India’s workers, most of whom are in the casual and informal sectors. Within days, a group of researchers and activists came together to form the Stranded Workers Action Network, or SWAN, to collect data on the experiences and challenges faced by these workers.
In the ninth episode of the Centre for Policy Research’s series on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive of the Delhi-based think tank, speaks with members of the SWAN initiative about the limitations of India’s social security architecture and the need to rethink what it means to be a welfare state.
The guests include Anindita Adhikari, PhD student at Brown University and a member of the Right to Food and Right to Work movements; Seema Mundoli, faculty member at the Azim Premji University; and Sanjay Sinha from Muzzaffarpur, who is part of the Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sangathan and NREGA Watch in Bihar.
Adhikari, Mundoli, and Sinha shed light on the ground realities of migrant workers’ plight, where government initiatives and relief measures have failed, and what shape future policies measures need to take.
This is the ninth episode in a series by the Centre for Policy Research on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic in India. You can follow the Centre’s work on Covid-19 on Twitter or visit www.cprindia.org. You can read the SWAN Report here. You can listen to all the episodes in the Coronavirus Conversation series here.