Migrant workers head home in coronavirus lockdown, exposed and vulnerable

Unlike countries such as South Africa, which follow a right-based approach giving social security to everyone who joins the workforce, India sticks to an employment-based approach


Zeenat, who works in a garment factory in Delhi, says she wants to go back to her village in Uttar Pradesh as she won’t be able to make her ends meet in Delhi due to the lockdown. Photo: Somesh Jha

Somesh Jha New Delhi
Durga Prasad, 34, made a life-changing call to his family living in Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh) last Saturday to say he was headed back home as his garment manufacturing unit was closing down for the next 15 days. This was a day before the Delhi government had announced an official lockdown in the national capital.

“I resigned after my employer refused to pay me for the shutdown days,” Prasad, sitting on a bicycle in New Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Area, tells Business Standard. “If the virus spreads further, it would leave me exposed without any earning. I’m headed home.”

A worker like Prasad, who’s an integral part of the country’s 471-million workforce, never felt more vulnerable. Around 81 per cent of this

First Published: Mar 25 2020 | 10:32 PM IST

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