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Internal Migration

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Internal Labour Migration in India: A ‘Crisis of Mobility’

Published on May 17, 2021


This paper examines the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on migration. The rapid spread of the pandemic caught countries across the world off guard, resulting in widespread lockdowns that clamped down on mobility, commercial activities and social interactions. In India, the pandemic precipitated a severe ‘crisis of mobility’, with migrant labourers in many major cities seeking to return to their hometowns. Their desperate attempts to return home by any means available rendered the lockdown ineffective in several areas, prompting clashes with authorities, last-minute policy relief and, eventually, the arrangement of transport measures. This paper aims to shed light on the vulnerability of India’s internal migrants in terms of their mobility, gender and mental health. In addition, it critically analyses the limitations of public policy in addressing migrants and suggests recommendations for the way ahead.