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Gender-Restricted Emigration and Pandemic Repercussions: The Case of Nurse Emigration from India to The Gulf Countries During COVID-19

Published on November 1, 2023



The consequences of the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the international migration and mobility of workers have been profound. Border closures, quarantine and stay-at-home measures, and the downturn in international travel have all caused disruption to labour migration flows and increased immobility (Martin and Bergmann 2020). For India, this poses a significant concern when we consider the level of it’s internal migration, international migrant remittances, the rate of emigration for India’s workers (skilled and less skilled), and the increasing engagement of India’s youth population in international study (Rajan, et al 2020; Rajan 2020a, 2020b). Healthcare migrants have remained in demand during the pandemic as essential workers were needed to address the surge capacity in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country health systems during the pandemic (Scarpetta, et al 2020). India is one of the world’s leading sources of migrant healthcare workers (Walton-Roberts 2020; Walton-Roberts and Rajan 2020a). How has the pandemic affected India’s role as a global provider of medical workers, particularly nurses? To address this question, we focus on some of the most significant nurse migration markets for India—those in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, which have been subject to Emigration Check Required (ECR) regulations since 2015. We describe the regulatory control of this migratory flow prior to and during the pandemic and offer some thoughts about the future of this labour mobility and India’s governance role.

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