The Coronavirus Pandemic: How to Secure Lives of Migrant Workers

13 May 2020

Listen to the 41st episode of ThoughtSpace (above) featuring Anindita Adhikari, Seema Mundoli, Sanjay Sinha and Yamini Aiyar.

On March 25th, when the Government of India announced the first lockdown, it brought to light a problem that has remained invisible in the minds of our policymakers and public consciousness – the problem of insuring dignity and rights to the vast majority of India’s workers, most of whom are in the casual and informal sector. Within days of the lockdown, a group of researchers and activists came together to form the Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN) to collect data on the experiences and challenges stranded workers were facing.

In the ninth episode of the CPR ThoughtSpace series on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, Yamini Aiyar, President & Chief Executive of CPR, speaks with members of the SWAN initiative on the limitations of India’s social security architecture and the need to rethink what it means to be a welfare state. Our guests include Anindita Adhikari, PhD student at Brown University and a member of the Right to Food and Right to Work movements; Seema Mundoli, faculty member at the Azim Premji University; and Sanjay Sinha from Muzzaffarpur, Bihar, who is part of the Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sangathan and NREGA Watch in Bihar.

Adhikari, Mundoli, and Sinha shed light on the ground realities of migrant workers’ plight, where government initiatives and relief measures have failed, and what shape future policies measures need to take.

This is the ninth episode in a series by the Centre for Policy Research on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic in India. You can follow the Centre’s work on Covid-19 on Twitter or visit You can listen to all the episodes in the Coronavirus Conversation series here. You can read the SWAN Report here.

The views shared belong to individual faculty and researchers and do not represent an institutional stance on the issue.