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International Migration

Empty Handed and Demoralized : New Evidences of Wage Theft among Indian Return Migrants during COVID-19

Published on August 4, 2021


The mobility restriction and massive job losses during the covid19 pandemic demanded the countries of origin to
bring back their citizens, especially temporary labour migrants from destination countries. India, the home for 17
million cross-border temporary labour migrants, carried out the largest repatriation exercise from May 7, 2020,
to bring back the stranded migrants. Considering the persistent requests from the Indian diaspora and workers
stranded overseas, the Indian government executed the repatriation of Indians using the national carrier and navy
vessels. It brought back the migrants in 10 phases under a mission titled ‘Vande Bharat Mission1.’ The rapid
increase in the number of Indians affected in the Gulf countries, and the loss of jobs and poor access to health
services in the labour camps made the Indian workers increasingly vulnerable. Even though the Indian
government addressed the immediate requirement in repatriation, the government failed to understand and
recognise their post-arrival grievances.