ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fifty Days of Lockdown in India: A View from Two Villages in Tamil Nadu

Villagers in Tiruppur district in Tamil Nadu, India’s largest knitwear manufacturing and export hub, face different levels of hardship due to the lockdown in the wake of COVID-19. This article details the coping strategies of garment, power loom, and agricultural workers in two villages—Allapuram and Mannapalayam.

Women at the Crossroads

While the transformation of rural gender inequalities was not an intended goal of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, this study draws on evidence from two villages in western Tamil Nadu to show how the scheme has benefited rural women in particular. Major attractions of the MGNREGA work include local availability through the year, it being perceived as relatively "easy" work with fixed, regular, gender equal wages, and free from caste-based relations of subordination and discrimination. The gendered impacts of MGNREGA are partly due to the universal, right-based and women-friendly nature of the policy, and partly to the specific ways in which this policy is implemented in Tamil Nadu, where it has received significant cross-party political support.

Sounding a Note of Caution

Official data from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act website is examined alongside independently collected survey and ethnographic data. The validity of the official data is verifi ed by comparing it to field-level observations. This is done at various levels, and in doing so, it is shown that in certain ways the official mgnrega data is robust. In other very important ways the data is shown to be highly problematic for these particular villages in Tamil Nadu, for which the exercise is done.

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