CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia is hosting a webinar on Inter-state migration in India in the time of COVID-19.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has led to severe disruptions in agricultural supply chains in India, which rely heavily on migrant labor. Simultaneously, several out-of-work migrant workers across Indian cities decided to return to their home states following the announcement of nationwide lockdown measures in March 2020. Based on available statistics and official reports, it is estimated that 11 million migrants returned to their state of origin between March and June 2020. This exodus of migrant workers, primarily from urban to rural parts of the country, has given rise to pressing challenges for local labor markets. While source states now face an excess in labor supply, destination states are struggling to address the gaps caused due to a labor deficit.
In the wake of these dynamic flows of the migrant labor force due to COVID-19 and resulting lockdown measures, state governments, policymakers, and researchers are faced with a number of complex questions: Will the ongoing pandemic make local, partial, or full lockdowns necessary? Will returning migrants settle in their home states or will they return once lockdown restrictions are lifted? In this fast-evolving context, it is challenging to estimate an adequate policy strategy for the long-run. Should home states plan to absorb these returning migrants into the local economy? Or should destination states attempt to draw them back? Should the Central government encourage the inter-state mobility of the workers or instead, prioritise local development within states?
This webinar will bring together knowledge and perspectives from government and research to discuss many of these questions and shed light on the challenges and possible opportunities emerging from inter-state migration in India in the wake of the pandemic.