Migrant workers bore the brunt of 2020 lockdown due their poor access to social security schemes & legal rights, depicts latest NHRC report

Migrant workers bore the brunt of 2020 lockdown due their poor access to social security schemes & legal rights, depicts latest NHRC report

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published Published on Jun 29, 2021   modified Modified on Jul 2, 2021

The rise in COVID-19 daily new cases and daily new deaths compelled many state governments to impose local level lockdowns during April-May 2021. As of 20th April, 2021, partial lockdowns were noticed in 10 states across the country and complete lockdown was imposed in Delhi. As of 8th May, 2021, nearly the entire country was under complete lockdown as a result of either partial lockdowns and night curfews or complete lockdowns imposed by the states/ UTs, says the report titled No Country for Workers: The COVID-19 Second Wave, Local Lockdowns and Migrant Worker Distress in India (released on 16th June, 2021), which has been prepared by the Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN). As a result, anecdotal evidence from media reports came to the surface about short-term migrant workers, daily wage labourers and informal sector workers returning back to their villages (places of origin) during late March and April this year. The reverse migration caused by the local lockdowns of 2021 easily reminds one of the humanitarian crisis that unfolded due to the sudden announcement of the nationwide lockdown that was imposed with effect from 25th March, 2020 for nearly two months in phases. 

On account of the sudden announcement of the 2020 nationwide lockdown with merely four hours’ notice, the existing transport systems were unprepared to adapt themselves quickly for meeting the travel requirements of millions of migrants returning to their villages (i.e., rural areas located in sending states). This had contributed to a surge in coronavirus infections among the returnee migrants last year although measures were taken in the home states to quarantine the returnees and provide them with health services. The sudden declaration of the countrywide lockdown imposed last year caused panic among the informal and migrant workers (as could be noticed from their congregations at various interstate bus depots and railway stations after the lockdown was declared), and in the absence of adequate transportation, many of them trudged on foot to their ancestral villages. Evidence has been collected by researchers on returnee migrants who died during their journey on foot due to starvation, hunger, exhaustion, police brutality, road accidents and various other reasons. 

A large number of survey-based studies have been prepared and produced by academics and civil society researchers to understand and assess the impact of COVID-19 induced national lockdown on the lives and livelihoods of the migrant workers, informal sector labourers, daily wage labourers and the like. In this news alert, an effort is made to bring together the main findings of the report titled 'A Study on Social Security and Health Rights of Migrant Workers in India' which has been written by Jacob John, Naveen Joseph Thomas, Megha Jacob and Neha Jacob of Kerala Development Society. The study was commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission to Kerala Development Society on 18th October, 2019. The research study broadly brings to the fore 3 things -- (i) the pitiable socio-economic and health conditions of the inter-state migrant workers from a human rights perspective; (ii) the adverse impact of COVID-19 lockdown on the inter-state migrant workers (ISMWs) and their livelihoods; and (iii) the extent to which the ISMWs failed to access various social security schemes and entitlements provided by the Central and State Governments. The present news alert also tries to briefly discuss the methodology adopted by the NHRC commissioned report.   

Methodology of the report on ISMWs

Sponsored by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the field survey for the study titled 'A Study on Social Security and Health Rights of Migrant Workers in India' was conducted across four Indian states i.e., Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra. The primary data was collected from different sources to understand the status of social security and health rights needs of the internal migrant workers. The primary data was collected through well-structured questionnaires. Purposive sampling method was used for the selection of states and districts. Those states and districts with the highest concentration of ISMWs were selected for the survey.

Karnal and Gurugram districts of Haryana, South West Delhi and North East Delhi districts of Delhi state, Pune and Mumbai districts of Maharashtra and Ahmedabad and Surat districts of Gujarat were selected for the survey. The survey covered all the three regions of India. However, the eastern region of the country was not covered since that region is primarily a supplier or sender of migrant workers. 

In the survey, a total of 1,600 ISMWs from the four states were selected i.e. 200 such workers from each of the 8 districts. A total of 800 local workers from four states were covered i.e. 100 such workers from each of the 8 districts. A total of 400 employers/ contractors from four states were covered in the survey i.e. 50 such individuals from each of the 8 districts. A total of 800 officials of State Government representatives, elected representatives and officials of local government institutions from four states were covered i.e. 100 such persons from each of the 8 districts. A total of 800 scholars, experts, NGO/ CSO representatives, representatives of trade unions and associations of labourers from four states were selected i.e. 100 such persons from each of the 8 districts. In total, 4,400 respondents were covered in the field survey. Although the report was ready by October 2020, it became available in the public domain in April 2021, indicates a press release by NHRC dated 20th April, 2021. The study states that during the COVID-19 lockdown period, data was collected from the migrant workers in shelter homes and labour camps.

Four sets of questionnaire were prepared for the research study -- a questionnaire for seeking information from the ISMWs, a second questionnaire for getting information from employers and contractors of the ISMWs, a third questionnaire for seeking information from the State Government officials/ elected representatives and officials of panchayats, municipality and corporations, and a fourth questionnaire for getting information from local workers, scholars, experts, trade unions, associations of labourers and representatives of NGO/ CSO. Qualitative and quantitative data collected through different methods were processed for presenting the results of the study.

Besides collecting primary data through the survey, the study has relied on secondary data of various studies, and reports. Data collected by the Government and non-governmental organisations have also been used for the study. The documents consulted for preparing the report include State Acts, studies commissioned by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, International Labour Organisation (ILO) sponsored studies, and Government orders and circulars.

Socio-economic and health conditions of the ISMWs

At the outset the NHRC commissioned report gives a broad outline about the working and living conditions of the internal migrants. It says that most migrant workers are unskilled and they work in the unorganised sector that offers little or no social security protection. The major states in the country, which sends ISMWs are West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Some migrant workers come under the category of child labourer too. There are child workers who attend school education and perform part-time work as well. 

The ISMWs in India face wide ranging issues. Some of the problems faced by them include non-provisioning of entitlements related to government schemes, poor access to available schemes and services offered by the Central and State Governments, inadequate and inappropriate safeguards at workplaces, poor living conditions such as congested accommodations without access to toilet, kitchen and safe drinking water, long working hours without adequate pay, lower wage rates in comparison to that of the local workers, limited access to healthcare services that are offered by the State Governments/ local governments, social exclusion on account of their caste and linguistic backgrounds, poor social interaction and lack of integration with the local community in the host states. It should be added here that a study titled Unlocking the Urban: Reimagining Migrant Lives in Cities Post-COVID 19 by Aajeevika Bureau, released on May 1st, 2020, highlighted that the migrant workers are stripped of their voting rights and thus they lack the opportunity to assert their political agency. In a letter sent to Shri Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner and Shri Rajiv Kumar, Election Commissioner on 5th May, 2021, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) -- a Delhi-based NGO working on electoral reforms and transparency in governance -- has requested for extending facilities allowing the migrant workers to vote from their current residences away from home constituencies, at a time when similar facility is being worked out for the Non-resident Indians (NRIs) by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Social protection and healthcare requirements of the ISMWs are totally neglected by their employers/ contractors, says the NHRC commissioned report. Most of them live in an unhealthy environment that pose a significant level of health related risks. ISMWs mostly live in labour camps and housing clusters where sanitation and cleanliness are rarely maintained. Many studies have found that the migrant workers, especially the construction workers, live in congested spaces with minimum basic facilities. They are unable to access healthcare services that increases the risk of contamination amongst them. Overtime work makes work-life balance much more difficult for the ISMWs. Social security is hardly provided to them so that they can adequately manage their risks. Due to their mobility across states, various labour markets and social security systems, they face specific vulnerabilities.

Once the ISMWs are away from their home states and their own community, they become more vulnerable since they have no access to social networks and safety nets. Their access to social and basic services in the host state is often restricted because of several factors. The lack of access to entitlements and problems in portability of social security for the ISMWs makes them especially vulnerable. Migrant workers face problems mostly because they are unable to access the rights and the entitlements that are designed for them. Not much attention is given by the employers/ contractors of the migrant workers and the Government institutions at the State level or national level in properly implementing the existing welfare measures for them. On top of that, the ISMWs are also not aware of the existing legal rights and social security measures.  

The study done by Jacob John et al (2020) finds that agents (15.5 percent), contractors (24.25 percent), relatives (10.0 percent) and friends (40.25 percent) were the major channels (i.e., social networks) of labour migration from the sender to the destination states. It is mostly through friends or the information provided by friends that helped migrants to get work opportunities in other states. However, there were variations across the sending states in terms of channels of migration. Agents played a crucial role in the states of Assam (28.77 percent) and West Bengal (18.48 percent) in comparison to other states whereas the role of contractor was significant in the states of West Bengal (30.43 percent) and Bihar (33.33 percent)

The study has found that most construction workers among the ISMWs were from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Seasonal migrant workers from Bihar were found to be head-loaders and cart pushers while migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh worked as factory workers and drivers. Migrant workers from Odisha were mostly into plumbing related works and the diamond cutting industry of Surat relied on migrant workers (i.e., intra-state migrant workers) from Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Most of the migrant workers belonged to historically marginalised groups, finds the NHRC commissioned report.

The seasonal migrant workers were mostly employed in low-paying and hazardous jobs in the informal sector such as construction, hotel, textile, manufacturing, transportation, services and domestic work. The female migrant workers were mostly found in some specific sectors such as jewellery work and brick kilns besides domestic work.

The survey authorised by the NHRC finds that in Delhi, the respondents covered by the sample survey worked in construction sector as workers (15 percent), in trading activities such as hotel, restaurant, shops, wholesale and retail markets and street vending (17 percent) and as factory workers in organised sectors such as textiles and chemicals (7 percent). Nearly 11 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi were found to be cycle rickshaw pullers, e-rickshaw pullers and rag pickers. Similarly, 11 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi were into domestic work and 12 percent of the ISMWs worked as daily wage workers like plumbers, electricians and painters. Nearly 21 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat worked as construction workers and 7 percent of the ISMWs were absorbed into jewellery works, brick kilns, salt making, stone quarrying and diamond cutting. In Haryana, many of the ISMWs were in construction (22 percent) and trading activities such as hotel, restaurant, shops, wholesale and retail markets and street vending (15 percent). Almost 14 percent of the ISMWs were domestic workers in Haryana. In Maharashtra, the ISMWs were employed in the construction sector (23 percent), trading activities (15 percent) and worked with security agencies as security guards (13 percent). Please see table-1 for more information.
 
Table 1: Occupation of the ISMWs covered by the survey of Kerala Development Society 

Source: Primary data accessed from A Study on Social Security and Health Rights of Migrant Workers in India (2020), commissioned by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), please click here to access, page 25
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The female ISMWs mainly worked as domestic workers or performed informal work in the factories. The survey has observed that around 27 percent of the migrant workers covered by the NHRC sponsored survey were single without family members and the remaining were living in the host states with spouse and children. It should be noted that when the 2020 lockdown was announced, many of the ISMWs along with their families returned to their native places.

The research study has noticed that in the South West and North East districts of Delhi, a large number of migrant workers were engaged as labourers in the wholesale markets. Many of the ISMWs worked at factories making cell phone accessories, tailoring units, at electrical fitting factories and dyeing units. There is a high concentration of migrant workers in Ahmedabad and Surat. It is because Ahmedabad is an important economic and industrial hub. In Haryana, a large number of migrant workers were found in Karnal and Gurugram. Several of the ISMWs work in farmlands, factories, shops and construction sites. Pune and Mumbai of Maharashtra have several places where migrants are concentrated. In Mumbai, most of the ISMWs live in slums (like Dharavi) and several of them work in the construction industry and are employed in road and railway construction work. The other areas of Mumbai where migrant workers are concentrated include Cross Maidan, which is near the Churchgate station in South Mumbai, Indira Nagar of Shivaji Nagar, a resettlement site near Mint colony and Chembur and Virar. A large number of ISMWs work at construction sites in Pune.

The field survey by Kerala Development Society reveals that there are two types of migrants -- those who arrive in the destination states for a shorter duration and those who stay in the host state for a longer duration and some even stay permanently. Seasonal and temporary migration spans for a period of nearly six to eight months in a year, whereas migration for work in other unorganised sectors tends to be of slightly longer duration i.e., for a period of 10-11 months in a year. The survey shows that distress migration is a reality in all the four states covered.

The report states that the employers and contractors in the host states prefer cheaper ISMWs from North and East India over local labourers available in the host states because the former is ready to work in poor working and living conditions. The daily wage rate for ISMWs is slightly lower than that of the local workers. The ISMWs tend to be more punctual, dedicated and hard-working since they cannot leave for their home state frequently.

Social security and health of ISMWs -- Human rights violations in 4 states covered: The survey reveals that 84 percent of respondents from Delhi did not have proper accommodation i.e., they had poor quality of accommodation. About 72.3 percent of the ISMWs have reported inadequate safeguards or high risk at worksites. A significant proportion of the ISMWs -- 62 percent in Delhi, 65 percent in Gujarat, 61 percent in Haryana and 69 percent in Maharashtra -- have reported non-provisioning of entitlements of the Government schemes. It is noted that 51.2 percent in Delhi, 53 percent in Gujarat, 56 percent in Haryana and 55 percent in Maharashtra of the ISMWs had poor access to available schemes and services due to the lack of information and existing language barriers. A significant proportion of the ISMWs in all the four states have reported long working hours and absence of leisure time and entertainment. Another major concern of the ISMWs is that there was poor social interaction and lack of integration with the local community in all the four states. There is variation across the 4 states with respect to access to healthcare services by the ISMWs. About 55 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra and 45 percent in Gujarat had limited access to healthcare services against 17 percent in Delhi and 29 percent in Haryana. A small proportion of the ISMWs in Delhi (12 percent) and Haryana (18 percent) reported ill treatment and discrimination from their employers against 39 percent in Maharashtra and 32 percent in Gujarat. About 43.5 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra and 19 percent in Gujarat suffered from exploitation by the middlemen/ agents that resulted in lower wages in comparison to 12 percent in Delhi and 13.5 percent in Haryana.

Prejudices, discriminations and social exclusion: The ISMWs face various types of prejudices and discriminations. According to 93.5 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 90 percent in Gujarat, 87 percent in Haryana and 89 percent in Maharashtra, local people believed that the migrant labourers were polluting the environment by dumping wastes in public places. Migrant labourers are accused of dumping food and other wastes into common land and rivers/ canals thus polluting the environment. Around 32.5 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 31 percent in Gujarat, 35 percent in Haryana and 33 percent in Maharashtra mentioned that the local people are often sceptical about the increasing petty crimes committed by the migrant workers. According to 92.5 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 87 percent of them in Gujarat, 86 percent of them in Haryana and 90.5 percent in Maharashtra, local people considered migrant labourers as outsiders and did not treat them as equals in the society. About 57 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 65 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 59 percent in Haryana and 69 percent in Maharashtra stated that the employers discriminate against the ISMWs in the labour market with respect to wages and accommodation. However, they received better wages as compared to those in the home states.

Migrant workers speak only in their mother tongue with each other, and their interaction with the locals is often restricted. Migrant workers don't mingle with the local population and there is absence of social integration with the local community. Due to these factors, mutual trust between the migrants and the local community is not developed and they are considered as outsiders by the locals.

Unsafe and Unhealthy Working Environment for ISMWs: As compared to the local workers, migrant workers had poorer health profiles, high morbidity rate and faced a higher risk of occupational injury. Migrant workers often did not enjoy access to proper health check-ups. Because of the mobility across the borders, ISMWs are more vulnerable to communicable diseases. A significant proportion of the female ISMWs suffered from nutritional deficiencies and they had poor access to reproductive health services in comparison to the local labourers. As a result of the intense and daily exposure to toxic air, a significant proportion of the ISMWs, especially female migrant workers, suffer from asthma, cancer and reproductive health complications. Limited availability of safety related information, small or poorly ventilated workspaces and long hours of exposure to the toxic air were reported from factories in all the four states surveyed.

Long Working Hours: On an average, migrant labourers work for 8-14 hours in a day. They usually worked 6 days a week. Most of them didn't get time for entertainment. Workers' protection, like normal working hours and scheduled breaks, were seldom granted to them by their employers and on most days, they worked for long hours without any break that adversely affected their health.

High risk associated with working in construction and manufacturing sectors: Many migrant workers in the construction sector meet with accidental death every month. Construction workers lack adequate safeguards and are seldom covered by life insurance. Death of migrant workers is not properly reported owing to difficulties in identification because of the dearth of identity documents. Contractors often do not tell the relatives of the dead migrant workers about the exact cause of death. Instead of sending the dead bodies to the relatives staying in the home states, it is sold to private medical colleges for about Rs. 2-3 lakhs. Sometimes poor relatives don’t claim the dead bodies from the contractors/ employers due to their poor financial status. 

Primary data supported by evidence collected from various medical colleges/ government hospitals in the four states show that 43 persons in Delhi, 35 persons in Gujarat, 41 persons in Haryana and 38 persons in Maharashtra died per month. Their causes of death in each of the states is also provided. Around 5 persons in Delhi, 7 persons in Gujarat, 6 persons in Haryana and 8 persons in Maharashtra died in the construction sector every month. About 2 persons in Delhi, 3 persons in Gujarat, 4 persons in Haryana and 3 persons in Maharashtra committed suicide per month. Stomach related diseases caused the death of 12 persons in Delhi, 6 persons in Gujarat, 11 persons in Haryana and 9 persons in Maharashtra per month. Heart ailment/ heart attack caused the death of 9 persons in Delhi, 5 persons in Gujarat, 7 persons in Haryana and 6 persons in Maharashtra. Please note that COVID-19 related deaths have not been included in these figures.

Factory premises exposed to high risks: Although the migrant workers were given accommodations in the labour camps, several of them worked and slept in the factory premises itself. However, factories often lack fire safety due to which ISMWs die whenever accidents occur. 

Exploitation by agents/ middlemen: The difference between the wage which is offered by the employer in the host state and the wage which was agreed to by the labourer (with the middlemen at the time of leaving home state) is taken away by the middlemen/ agents/ brokers as commission. As a result, the NHRC authorised survey detected that 17 percent of the ISMWs received lower wages. Almost 18 percent of the ISMWs were not given minimum wages. In the survey, the ISMWs expressed their unhappiness with the agents/ brokers because of wage theft related issues that caused financial distress.  
 
Lack of Identity Cards and Registration Documents: The survey indicates that around 93 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 89 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 87.5 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 80 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra had valid identity documents at the time of survey, though a small proportion of the migrant workers were without valid identity documents. 

It is observed that 56.45 percent of ISMWs in Delhi had valid identity cards issued at address in the home state only, 29.30 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi had valid identity cards issued at address in the host state only and merely 14.25 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi had valid identity cards issued at address in both home and host states. Nearly 65.17 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat had valid identity cards issued at address in the home state only, 24.72 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat had valid identity cards issued at address in the host state only and merely 10.11 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat had valid identity cards issued at address in both home and host states. Almost 58.57 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana had valid identity cards issued at address in the home state only, 24.57 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana had valid identity cards issued at address in the host state only and just 16.86 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana had valid identity cards issued at address in both home and host states. About 55.62 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra had valid identity cards issued at address in the home state only, 33.75 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra had valid identity cards issued at address in the host state only and just 10.63 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra had valid identity cards issued at address in both home and host states. 

Most ISMWs had aadhaar card -- Delhi (88 percent), Gujarat (84 percent), Haryana (79 percent) and Maharashtra (78 percent). Only a small proportion of the migrant workers were issued voter ID card -- Delhi (16 percent), Gujarat (15 percent), Haryana (17 percent) and Maharashtra (9 percent). This shows that most ISMWs did not politically participate during elections in the host states.  

Registration of the ISMWs is not done by their employers/ contractors in order to get rid of their liabilities and benefits to be provided to the workers. Due to the absence of documentary proof of identity and local residence, regulations and administrative procedures exclude the migrant workers from accessing the legal rights, public services and social protection programmes meant for them. The ISMWs were excluded from accessing subsidised food, housing and banking services. The survey reveals that almost 52 percent of the migrant workers were often treated as second-class citizens.

Access to anganwadi services by women ISMWs: Migrant pregnant women, infant and young mothers did not get pre-schooling and immunisation services that are offered by the anganwadi centres in the host states. Almost one-third of respondents (32 percent) did not get take home rations, supplementary nutrition food, growth monitoring, integrated mothers care and care during pregnancy in their place of living. For around 38 percent of respondents, anganwadi services (i.e., Integrated Child Development Services – ICDS) were not available at the workplaces. Workers who did not have contracts were unable to receive any benefits or incentives.

Condition of female ISMWs and their children: Female ISMWs did not get maternity leave, other maternity entitlements, or breast-feeding breaks at worksites. Their wages were lower than the male counterparts. Almost 68 percent of the female ISMWs covered in the survey did not have access to toilets as they lived in slums or squatter settlements. In the absence of toilets, they were compelled to defecate in the open. The lack of access to proper sanitation has serious health consequences for them. The children of the female ISMWs were excluded from all basic entitlements and services like food and nutrition, health and education. There is absence of relevant services such as mobile crèches, early childcare services, initiatives for pre-school education and school education for the children of the ISMWs.

Poorly maintained labour camps: There were 7 types of labour camps, which are provided by employers/ contractors: i) temporary sheds without any rooms or attached kitchen or toilets - kutcha building; ii) single room sharing without toilet/ without kitchen - pucca building; iii) single room sharing with toilet facilities - pucca building; iv) single room sharing room with kitchen facilities - pucca building; v) house sharing -- single room accommodation with toilet facilities (more than one room) - pucca building; vi) house sharing -- single room with kitchen facilities (more than one room) - pucca building; and vii) independent house with toilets and kitchen - pucca building. Most ISMWs were found to live in category - i) followed by category - ii) types of labour camps in each of the 4 states surveyed. A significant proportion of the ISMWs were given accommodation in labour camps by the contractor/ employer. Besides that, ISMWs were mostly found to be living in rented room sharing accommodation.  

Access to public health services: Some of the barriers faced by the ISMWs in accessing the public health services were lack of confidence for accessing the health services/ fear of the system, local language problem, blind belief/ cultural bias, long distance from hospitals, lack of awareness about provision of health facilities and financial problems. 

Health problems faced by the ISMWs: The survey indicates that the ISMWs in all the four states mainly suffered from asymptomatic fever (not COVID-19), respiratory infections, injuries, musculoskeletal problems, skin problems, gastrointestinal problems, urinary infections, ophthalmology morbidity, hypertension, addiction to tobacco in any form and addiction to alcohol.

COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and livelihood security of the ISMWs 

Let us now look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economic situation of the ISMWs. The lockdown was implemented invoking the Disaster Management Act (DMA), 2005 and the COVID-19 management was implemented through a centralised approach with the involvement of state and district administrations. During the period of 2020 nationwide lockdown, the vulnerabilities of the migrant workers were greatly exposed, says the NHRC authorised report

It is observed by the report prepared by Jacob John et al (2020) that though the host or destination states gave limited economic security, they failed to provide adequate social security to the migrant workers. Migrant workers were unable to access many of the existing Government schemes. The existing laws relevant for the ISMWs were not effectively implemented. 

The abrupt declaration of the countrywide lockdown led to a closing down of the factories, hotels and other businesses, which left millions of ISMWs in a precarious state. 

As against 39 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi who were removed from jobs or completely lost livelihoods, almost 38 percent suffered the same fate in Gujarat, 31 percent in Haryana and 42 percent in Maharashtra. Although 31 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi continued their jobs/ livelihood activities with reduced salary/ income, with less number of days of employment, nearly 30 percent of the ISMWs underwent the same situation in Gujarat, 36 percent in Haryana and 41 percent in Maharashtra. Merely 5 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi continued their jobs/ livelihood activities with more income against 2 percent of such workers in Gujarat and Maharashtra each. Please consult table-2 for details.    

Table 2: COVID-19 lockdown: Loss of Jobs/ Livelihoods 

Source: Same as table-1, page 47
Note: Data collected from respondents from various spots including COVID-19 shelter homes and labour camps                                
Continuing the job/ livelihood activities with more income were involved in high health risk activities, especially the risk of COVID-19 infection

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The findings of the NHRC commissioned study pertaining to Delhi is corroborated by an official survey done in Delhi. The Employment Survey in Delhi 2020, which was conducted by the Centre for Market Research & Social Development, New Delhi at the behest of the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of NCT of Delhi found that there was an upsurge in unemployment rate in Delhi from 11.1 percent in January-February 2020 (i.e. prior to the Covid-19 induced lockdown) to 28.5 percent in October-November 2020, a jump by 17.4 percentage points. The unemployment rate among men, which was 8.7 percent in January-February, 2020, went up to 23.2 percent in October-November 2020, a rise of 14.5 percentage points. The unemployment rate among women, which was 25.6 percent in January-February 2020 (higher than that of men's unemployment rate in the corresponding period), spiked to 54.7 percent in October-November 2020, an increase of 29.1 percentage points. In comparison to 31.6 percent of working age male respondents, 83.1 percent of working age female respondents were out of the labour force during October-November 2020. While the average monthly income of an employed person before the Coronavirus outbreak was Rs. 16,511/-, the average monthly income of an employed person during the time of survey was Rs. 15,383/-, which shows a reduction in the average monthly income by 6.83 percent. Although most (89 percent) of the unemployed persons were looking for work, more than half of the unemployed persons (56 percent) were unemployed for more than six months. The sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown were construction, food and beverage service activities, education, wholesale and retail trade, services to buildings and landscape activities, information service activities, land transport, security and investigation activities, human health activities and apparel manufacturing.

On the basis of the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE-CPHS), the State of Working India 2021 report mentions that roughly 10.0 crore people lost jobs during the countrywide April-May 2020 lockdown. Although many joined work by June 2020, nearly 1.5 crore workers remained out of work even by the end of 2020. The per capita average monthly incomes (in October 2020) remained below pre-pandemic levels (in January 2020 and February 2020). The share of aggregate income pertaining to labour in the GDP has shrunk by more than 5 percentage points from 32.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019-20 to 27.0 percent in the second quarter of 2020-21. Almost 90 percent of the fall in aggregate income pertaining to labour occurred due to a reduction in earnings and the rest 10 percent occurred on account of loss of employment.

In the absence of inadequate food, income and livelihood security, the lockdown led to a mass exodus of the ISMWs from the host states to their villages located in northern and eastern parts of India, says the NHRC commissioned report. Due to their inability to pay rents, landlords in the host states compelled the ISMWs (who were living as tenants) to leave their rented shelters in the midst of pandemic induced lockdown. Many such ISMWs left the host states because they had no jobs and no income to continue their stay any longer. They were bereft of their savings by the pandemic against the backdrop of their already low incomes/ wages. The respondents in the NHRC funded survey also complained about the police harassment they faced when they moved back to their home states on foot. Through qualitative interviews, the report has found that the ISMWs who were stranded in Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra were hungry, scared and worried. In the absence of adequate support provided by the host states, the ISMWs were surviving on limited relief activities of the government and the charity of the public. Middlemen and contractors who brought many of the ISMWs to work, refused to pay them their dues once the 2020 lockdown was announced. Without jobs, the ISMWs were left without little or no food and cash. Since the portability of ration cards was not allowed at the time when the nationwide 2020 lockdown was implemented, migrants having ration cards with the home state’s address on it could not access foodgrains from PDS shops in the host states. Those who didn’t have ration cards felt helpless and depended on public charity for food.  

The NHRC sponsored study also mentions the clashes that took place between the state police force and angry migrant workers in Mumbai and Surat. Some workers resorted to violence after being denied permission to return to their home states. The report has also mentioned the names of some NGOs and CSOs who provided relief to the ISMWs in various states of India, such as Aajeevika Bureau in Maharashtra and Gujarat, Aid et Action in Delhi, etc. 

The report prepared for NHRC underlines the importance of developing a National Migrant Information System. It asks for the maintenance of a dynamic database of ISMWs by the host and home states. Though the 123-years old Epidemic Diseases Act was quite effective to fight the pandemic, during its implementation the lapses in addressing the serious problems of the ISMWs got exposed. 

Notwithstanding the restrictions imposed by the authorities in the initial days of the lockdown, in their order dated 9th June, 2020, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices SK Kaul and MR Shah asked all the State Governments and Union Territories to ensure the return of all the stranded migrant workers within a fortnight to their respective home states and to inform the apex court within the same deadline about the welfare measures, including job opportunities they plan to offer the returnees. In their order, the Supreme Court judges asked the states and the Union Territories to identify the stranded migrants and arrange their transport back home within 15 days. It also asked the administration to withdraw cases filed against the migrant workers for violating the lockdown related guidelines, and asked the Indian Railways to ensure the availability of trains within 24 hours if there exists such a demand. Both the Centre and the states/ UTs were ordered to prepare a detailed list to identify the migrant workers. The Supreme Court instructed the states and the Union Governments that all the schemes and employment opportunities available for the migrant workers must be publicised. Besides, relief in the form of employment should be given to the migrants and their skill mapping should be done. 

The report prepared by Jacob John et al (2020) states that several initiatives were undertaken by the Central Government, State Governments and local government institutions to address the problems faced by the migrant labourers. The Government of India initiated a National Migrant Information System (NMIS) on the existing NDMA-GIS portal. This portal is expected to be maintained as a central repository and help the sending as well as receiving states and districts. Please note that despite direction given by the Supreme Court of India last year in its order dated 9th June, 2020 and order dated 31 July, 2020, a recent perusal of the affidavits filed by the Union of India and State Governments reveal the slow pace at which registrations of the unorganised and migrant workers have happened with many of the portals and registration systems still at the stage of being developed. The Supreme Court in its order dated 24th May, 2021 has given directions for time-bound registrations under the various portals and laws to ensure that social security and other benefits reach the migrant workers and unorganised sector workers. It is worth noting that in Section 112 of the Code of Social Security 2020, registration of unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers is also contemplated. 

The Government of India on May 14th, 2020 allocated Rs. 3,500 crores for food aid [under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)] to an estimated 80 million migrant workers. The Government of India’s Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan aimed at creating livelihoods for the jobless migrant workers who moved back from the cities to their home states during the lockdown. The scheme is a convergence of 12 line departments/ ministries to execute existing asset generation programmes belonging to 25 public works categories.  

Access to welfare schemes and entitlements by the ISMWs

In the report titled A Study on Social Security and Health Rights of Migrant Workers in India, it is stated that only a handful of the migrant workers were able to access the schemes that benefitted them. Their access to schemes varied between 0.5 percent and 27.5 percent depending on their type. The Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) was accessed by 3.25 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 3.5 percent of such workers in Haryana and 3 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. In Delhi, instead of the AB-PMJAY an alternative scheme is operational. However, the AB-PMJAY can be availed from major hospitals that are managed by the Central Government. The Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) under the AB-PMJAY were accessed by 5.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 6.75 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 7.25 percent of ISMWs in Maharashtra. Foodgrains under the Public Distribution System (PDS) could be accessed by 16.75 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 13.5 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 10.75 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 13.75 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ (BOCW) Act were accessed by 8.0 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 6.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 7.5 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 9.0 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra.

Benefits under the PM Ujjwala Scheme were accessed by 16.75 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 13.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 11.25 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 12.25 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana were accessed by only 2.0 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 1.0 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 1.75 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 1.5 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme for pregnant and lactating women, children under six years of age and adolescent girls were accessed by 19.5 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 11.25 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 12.0 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 14.0 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) for pregnant and lactating women were accessed by 5.75 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 4.5 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 4.75 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 4.25 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra.  

Benefits under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) that consists of Old Age Pension Scheme, Widow Pension Scheme, Disability Pension Scheme, National Family Benefit Programme and the Annapurna Scheme were accessed by 3.75 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 4.0 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 4.5 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 4.25 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Right to Education Act 2009 for the children of the migrant workers were accessed by 14.0 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 16.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 13.5 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 13.25 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana were accessed by 27.25 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 19.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 22.25 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 23.0 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKBY) that consists of free foodgrains and cash transfers during the COVID-19 linked nationwide lockdown were accessed by 28.0 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 24.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 26.0 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 27.75 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan (PM-SYM) that consists of poor labourers getting a minimum assured pension of Rs 3,000 per month against a monthly contribution from their side were accessed by 6.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 6.0 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 5.5 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. The National Crèche Scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development was accessed by none in all the 4 states.  

Thus, it is evident now that the migrant labourers enjoyed poor access to schemes related to health insurance, pension, education, subsidised food, cash transfer, employment guarantee scheme and PM's welfare schemes. Although the Central Government made transfer of Rs.500 per month for three months (starting from April 2020) to each of the 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders and Rs. 1,000 to each of the 3 crore poor senior citizens, poor widows and poor disabled, only a small section of the ISMWs covered by the survey had received the cash transfer. It is observed by the NHRC commissioned report that the PDS was yet to be made portable in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra at the time of the survey.

Although only a small section of the migrant workers had availed benefits given by the State Governments, about 94.5 percent of the ISMWs covered by the survey had availed public health care services free of cost from the Mohalla Clinics in Delhi. Benefits under the State Government's insurance schemes were accessed by 1.5 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 0.5 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 1.0 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 1.75 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Health camps for testing, diagnostics and distribution of medicines were accessed by 10.75 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 9.25 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 8.5 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 13.75 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Health cards were accessed by 3.0 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 3.75 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 2.5 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 3.5 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Education schemes of the State Governments for the children of the migrant workers were accessed by 42.0 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 36.0 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 17.0 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 19.25 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. Hostel facilitation was accessed by 5.75 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi, 3.25 percent of the ISMWs in Gujarat, 2.75 percent of the ISMWs in Haryana and 4.25 percent of the ISMWs in Maharashtra. The Dilli Swavalamban Yojana, which is a contributory pension scheme, was accessed by just 7.0 percent of the ISMWs in Delhi.

The NHRC sponsored study shows that a large proportion of the ISMWs were not in a position to avail the benefits of schemes like Dilli Swavlamban Yojana, Smart Card to workers in the unorganised sector (a scheme under the Delhi Unorganized Workers Social Security Board) and other such schemes due to diverse reasons, including time constraints, lack of awareness, bureaucratic hurdles, communication barriers and poor social network. It says that most ISMWs in the informal sector were unable to avail the benefits of various schemes because the labour laws often did not cover them. ISMWs are highly mobile. They do not stick to a particular place or a job for a long duration. So, non-portability of social security schemes is a major constraint for them. Many of the ISMWs did not usually claim their entitlements. They were unable to fulfil the registration requirements to receive social protection. There are welfare schemes, which have not yet expanded their outreach to include migrant women and children.

Most of the available social security schemes are contributory schemes wherein the beneficiaries i.e. the ISMWs have to make small monthly or yearly contributions. However, the study has suggested that there is a need for introducing a larger social security scheme without voluntary contributions from the ISMWs. Since labour is a concurrent subject under the Indian Constitution, State Governments (besides the Centre) too have the right to make laws on it. In order to attract investment and create business opportunities in their territories, some states have suspended or amended the labour laws. Many of the suspended labour laws are related to the unionisation of workers, settlement of disputes and working conditions for workers at the workplaces/ establishments. It needs to be added here that prior approval by the Centre is required when Central labour laws are changed by the states.

The study by Jacob John and others (2020) has highlighted some of the best practices adopted by the NGOs, such as registration of the migrant workers, provision of identity cards and health services by Aajeevika Bureau; taking care of the sexual and reproductive health needs of the female ISMWs by Disha Foundation; provision of permanent shelters and temporary tent shelters in Delhi and Haryana by IGSSS; crèche facilities at construction sites for the children of the ISMWs, which are provided by Mumbai Mobile Creches (MMC), etc. 

The study mentions that the laws, which have relevance for ensuring social security and health rights of the ISMWs, are Inter State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979; Building and Other Construction Workers’ Act 1996; Child Labour (Prohibitions & Regulation) Act, 1986; Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005; Right to Education Act 2009; Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008; and the Minimum Wages Act (1948). Legislations like the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act and BOCW Act have been subsumed in the Code on Social Security (CoSS), 2020. While discussing the importance of each of these laws, the study shows that there are some flaws in some of the pro-labour legislations that need to be corrected. For example, there are certain issues about the responsibility for obligations under the BOCW Act. The term 'employer' in the BOCW Act is defined to include both contractors and owners. Hence, the owners and the contractors pass the responsibility to one another. So, there is a need for making amendments to the BOCW Act to widen the scope of applicability of the BOCW Act to enable the respective State Governments to implement the Act that will benefit the construction workers by providing better and safer working conditions. The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Act 1996, stipulates that every builder with 50 female workers should provide a crèche with adequate accommodation for children under six years of age. The Building and Other Construction Workers Act (1996) sets a handling limit of 20-kg load for women. In reality, the provisions made by the employers are often found to be inadequate to meet the needs of the ISMWs. It is observed by the report that there exists a lack of clear standards in the BOCW Act and notified Rules.  

The Central Government schemes, which are relevant to the welfare of the migrant workers, are Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana(AB-PMJAY), Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan (PM-SYM), National Social Assistance Programme(NSAP), Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKBY), Public Distribution System (PDS) under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme-MGNREGS and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY). The study has also briefly discussed the modifications done in some of the Central Government schemes after the outbreak of the pandemic. For example, the National Health Authority (NHA), which implements AB-PMJAY, has divided the empanelled hospitals under COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 hospitals to prevent cross-infection. It has designed the packages for COVID-19 treatment since it is not a part of the regular package structure. It is worth noting that a comparison of utilisation data of pre-Covid (January to March, 2020) with post-Covid (April to June, 2020) period indicates that the majority of the AB-PMJAY empanelled hospitals (the private ones) did not function optimally during the 2020 lockdown, according to a Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Health and Family Welfare: The Outbreak of Pandemic Covid-19 and its Management. Only a negligible proportion of the population across various states got tested and were treated for COVID-19 under the AB-PMJAY, reveals a Right to Information application that was filed by India Today

With respect to the PDS, the Supreme Court of India on 28th April 2020, asked the Central Government to examine the feasibility of implementing the “One Nation One Ration Card” (ONORC) scheme during the national lockdown so that the mobile migrant workers have access to food. It was thought that the portability of ration cards under the One Nation One Ration Card scheme, thanks to technology, would be a solution for combating food insecurity witnessed by the migrant labourers. The portal of Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS), which started last year with the launch of One Nation One Ration Card, shows that in May 2021, there were a total of 9,097 transactions, out of which 2,762 transactions were pertaining to PMGKAY only (65,460 beneficiaries) under the One Nation One Ration Card scheme (as on 11th June, 2021). In May last year, there were a total of 378 transactions (3,077 beneficiaries) under the same scheme. The portal does not provide data on the migrant workers from Bihar who buy foodgrains in Delhi under the One Nation One Ration Card scheme. This is because the Delhi Government has not yet implemented the scheme (as on 11th June, 2021). In comparison to the vast population of short-term migrant workers in the country, only a miniscule proportion of them have been able to access PDS foodgrains under the One Nation One Ration Card scheme, indicates the IM-PDS portal.  

During the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, a few sections of the ISMWs who were stranded in other states, received cash transfers in their bank accounts from the sending states thanks to the Jan Dhan-Aadhar-Mobile (JAM) infrastructure, states the NHRC commissioned report. Please note that through its Corona Sahayata scheme, the Bihar State Government provided direct cash transfers to the tune of Rs. 1,000 (around US$15) into the bank accounts of each migrant worker so that they could return home, says the Global Food Policy Report 2021 of IFPRI.

The NHRC commissioned report mentions that against the backdrop of the pandemic, some of the steps undertaken by the State and Central Governments towards ensuring social security of the ISMWs include: portability of the PDS along with provision of One Nation One Ration Card (with the backup for Electronic Point Of Sale-ePOS); portability of social security number along with provision of social security identity cards for the ISMWs; enactment of the Code on Social Security; building a comprehensive database of the ISMWs; enactment of the Code on Wages; and proper coordination of the home and labour ministries with the State Governments (receiving states as well as sending states).

Given the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown on the migrant workers due to the unavailability of their comprehensive data, the Office of Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) under the Ministry of Labour and Employment sent letters on April 8th, 2020 to all regional offices of CLC in different states to coordinate with the State Governments in setting up a database of such workers. The data is required to be collected from three sources primarily: relief camps or shelters; employers whose labourers are available at in-situ/ workplaces; and from localities where the migrant workers generally reside in a cluster. The Central Government has begun one of the most comprehensive exercises to map the migrant workers scattered across the country. This can be considered as a step towards constructing the National Migrant Information System, says the report.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of India, in its order dated 9th June 2020 asked the States and Union Territories to identify the migrant workers who returned at the district and block levels and prepare an inventory of the vocational skills they possess and their employment history. This step can be considered as a beginning towards skill development, skill assessment, skill certification and reintegration of the returnee ISMWs, says the study. On top of that, the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), which comes under the AB-PMJAY, is expected to improve the health services to citizens, including the ISMWs.
 
Conclusion

The NHRC website has put together some of the key recommendations by the study that emanated for various stakeholders, which are as follows:

• Recommendations to the Union Ministries --

Ministry of Labour and Employment
1. Create National Migrant Information System
2. Set up an Inter-State Migration Council to coordinate between Central and State Governments
3. Generate awareness about schemes and facilities among the ISMWs
4. Create a 24x7 National and state level grievance redressal helpline

Ministry of Rural Development
1. Create a quota for the migrant workers in MGNREGS employment
2. Enhance access to National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) for the ISMWs

Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution:
1. Fast track the implementation of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’

• Recommendations to the State Governments --
1. Compulsory registration of the ISMWs with the labour departments
2. Organise health camps for workers and encourage employers to provide comprehensive on-site health care services
3. Ensure a workplace safety system through workplace safety training and access to appropriate safety devices
4. Ensure enrolment of children of migrant children in schools under the RTE Act, 2009
5. Skill mapping and certification of the migrant workers
6. Training institutions in host state or home state could provide skill training to the ISMWs

• Recommendations to the Election Commission of India --
1. Provide remote voting rights to the ISMWs for constituency in their native states

Please note that the voting rights that the migrant workers can exercise in the host states also matters a lot in making them heard and visible besides making the political system accountable to them.

Like most recent reports, the study by Jacob John et al (2020) also has rightly confirmed that the migrant workers who work in the unorganised sector faced immense hardships during the COVID-19 induced lockdown of 2020 in terms of job loss, income loss and food insecurity. However, the NHRC commissioned study stands out from the rest when it comes to understanding the vulnerability and the risks that the ISMWs (including the females and the children) face on a daily basis whether at worksites, living spaces or during their travel. The study enables one to understand the human rights violations that they undergo but are seldom addressed by the legal institutions and authorities. If one has to understand why the suddenly announced lockdown hit the ISMWs the most, then one needs to assess their access to various social security schemes and the legal rights in reality. In addition, one needs to know the working and living conditions of the migrant workers too. The report prepared by Jacob John et al (2020) of Kerala Development Society helps us to unlock the doors of the real world in which these migrant workers live, work, struggle and die without earning their due rights and dignity of labour. The ISMWs were already living on the edges of existence even before the pandemic had struck. The pandemic has perhaps opened our eyes to the discrimination which they face that often goes unnoticed.    

References

Aajeevika Bureau (2020): Unlocking the Urban: Reimagining Migrant Lives in Cities Post-COVID 19, released in April, please click here to access 

Association for Democratic Reforms (2021): Letter dated 5th May, 2021 to Shri Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner and Shri Rajiv Kumar, Election Commissioner, please click here to access 

Centre for Market Research & Social Development (2021): Employment Survey in Delhi 2020, released in January, Commissioned by Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Government of NCT of Delhi, please click here to access

Centre for Sustainable Employment (2021): State of Working India 2021: One year of COVID-19, released on 5th May, Azim Premji University, please click here to access 

Drèze, Jean and Somanchi, Anmol (2021): The COVID-19 Crisis and People’s Right to Food, released on 31st May, Open Science Framework, please click here to access

Global Food Policy Report 2021: Transforming Food Systems after COVID-19, released in April 2021, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), please click here to access 

GN Thejesh (2020): Non-virus deaths, please click here to access 

Integrated Management of Public Distribution System, http://www.impds.nic.in/portal (accessed on 11th June, 2021) 

John, Jacob, Thomas, Naveen Joseph, Jacob, Megha and Jacob, Neha (2020): A Study on Social Security and Health Rights of Migrant Workers in India, released in April 2021, commissioned by NHRC and prepared by Kerala Development Society, please click here and here to access  (accessed on 1st June, 2021) 

National Human Rights Commission (2021): Press release by NHRC research study on Social Security and Health Rights of Migrant Workers in India gives several recommendations to the Centre and State Governments, dated 20 April, 2021, please click here and here to access (accessed on 24th June, 2021)

Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Health and Family Welfare: The Outbreak of Pandemic COVID-19 and its Management, Report No. 123, Presented to the Chairman, Rajya Sabha on 21st November 2020 and Forwarded to the Speaker, Lok Sabha on 25th November 2020, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of AYUSH, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, please click here to access 

Stranded Workers Action Network (2021): No Country for Workers: The COVID-19 Second Wave, Local Lockdowns and Migrant Worker Distress in India, released on 16th June, please click here to access  

Supreme Court of India (2021): Order dated 24th May 2021, which is related to the suo motu writ petition (civil) 6/2020 IA no. 58769/2021, please click here to access  

Under Ayushman Bharat, huge disparities among states where Covid patients availed scheme -Ashok Upadhyay, IndiaToday.in, 16 June, 2021, please click here to access



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