1st Edition

Migration, Workers, and Fundamental Freedoms Pandemic Vulnerabilities and States of Exception in India

    138 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    138 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a mass exodus of India’s migrant workers from the cities back to the villages. This book explores the social conditions and concerns around health, labour, migration, and gender that were thrown up as a result of this forced migration.

    The book examines the failings of the public health systems and the state response to address the humanitarian crisis which unfolded in the middle of the pandemic. It highlights how the pandemic-lockdown disproportionately affected marginalised social groups – Dalits and the Adivasi communities, women and Muslim workers. The book reflects on the socio-economic vulnerabilities of migrant workers, their rights to dignity, questions around citizenship, and the need for robust systems of democratic and constitutional accountability. The chapters also critically look at the gendered vulnerabilities of women and non-cis persons in both public and private spaces, the exacerbation of social stratification and prejudices, incidents of intimidation by the administration and the police forces, and proposed labour reforms which might create greater insecurities for migrant workers.

    This important and timely book will be of great interest to researchers and students of sociology, public policy, development studies, gender studies, labour and economics, and law.

    Notes on the Contributors


    1. Introduction: Migration, work and citizenship: COVID-19 and faultlines of Indian democracy

    2. Migrant labour on centre stage: But politics fails them

    3. Mobile population, ‘pandemic citizenship’

    4. Juridicalising justice? COVID-19, citizenship claims, and courts

    5. The ‘new normal’: Making sense of women migrants’ encounter with COVID-19 in India

    6. The long walk towards uncertainty: The migrant dilemma in times of COVID-19

    7. Contestations of citizenship: Migrant labour, a benevolent state, and the COVID-19-induced lockdown in Kerala

    8. Protecting livelihood, health, and decency of work: Paid domestic workers in times of COVID-19

    9. Controlling journeys, controlling labour: COVID-19 and migrants



    Asha Hans is Director of the Development Research Institute, Bhubaneswar. She is former Professor of Political Science and Founder-Director of the School of Women’s Studies, Utkal University. She is the recipient of the Kathleen Ptolemy Award for refugee studies. Her work is mostly gendered and ranges from refugee studies, migration, climate change, conflict and peace studies, and disability. Her recent books are The Gender Imperative with Betty Reardon (Routledge, 2010, 2019), with Kalpana Kannabiran Social Development Report: Disability Rights Perspectives (2017), and Engendering Climate Change: Learnings from South Asia (co-editor, Routledge, forthcoming).

    Kalpana Kannabiran is Professor of Sociology and Regional Director at the Council for Social Development, Hyderabad, a position she has held since 2011. Her work focuses on understanding the social foundations of non-discrimination, structural violence, and questions of constitutionalism and social justice in India. She is the author of Tools of Justice: Non-Discrimination and the Indian Constitution (2012) and Re-Presenting Feminist Methodologies: Interdisciplinary Explorations (co-editor) (2017).

    Manoranjan Mohanty retired as Director of Developing Countries Research Centre and Professor of Political Science at University of Delhi in 2004. A political scientist, China scholar, and a peace and human rights activist, he is editor of Social Change, Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi, and Chairperson at the Development Research Institute, Bhubaneswar. He is the author of many publications, including China’s Transformation: The Success Story and the Success Trap (2017) and Ideology Matters: China from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping (2014).

    Pushpendra is Professor and Chairperson at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Patna Centre. Earlier he served as Professor at TISS, Mumbai, and Dean of TISS, Tuljapur. He has also been Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics. His publications include 'Public Report on Basic Education’ (1999), Land Reforms in India, Vol. V (2001), and Traversing Bihar: The Politics of Development and Social Justice (2014). He is co-editor of a series Migrations in South Asia for Routledge. He is also the editor of a bi-annual, peer-reviewed, online journal, Journal of Migration Affairs.