Pandemic and the Northern State: Understanding COVID-19’s impact on economic migration and local political economies in Rajasthan

Author:   Jitender Swami
Publisher:   GRFDT
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The COVID-19 economic crisis is the most severe economic shock that the Indian economy has faced in the last 30 years. Its severity can be attributed to both the pandemic as well as the failure of the government to address the public health crisis in an effective manner. The Indian government announced a nationwide lockdown in the month of March as a response to the pandemic which resulted in a reverse migration crisis causing the economic migrants to return to their villages from the urban production houses. They had to move back as their means of survival were completely lost due to restrictions on work and halted economic activity. This movement back to villages had critical implications for both the migrant workers and the economy. This paper aims at examining these implications of the reverse migration crisis on local political economies with special reference to migrant labourers in Rajasthan. For a detailed understanding of economic activity, employment patterns and condition of migrant lives during the lockdown, this research imparts a region-wise analysis of local political economies in terms of agriculture, industry, and service sector in the state. This paper also examines how the state policies and guidelines during the nationwide lockdown happened to be ineffective and unfavourable for the poor and lacked focus on migrant laborers. This research is based on secondary data collected from local newspaper reports (from 25th March to 1st June), newspaper articles, surveys, and government websites. 
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