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

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Labour ‘Invisibility’ during COVID-19 Times

As the migrant labour exodus unfolded with unrelenting grimness through the summer of 2020, there was frequent mention of how the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the “invisibility” of migrant labour to Indian planners and policymakers.


What do we make of this trope of labour “invisibility”? How could such an overwhelming majority of the workforce have been rendered “invisible” to the public eye? In what ways were the planning discourse and labour policy instrumental in producing and sustaining this “invisibility” of mig­rant, informal labour?

Contextualising official responses to migrant labour during the pandemic against the impact of recent policy measures such as demonetisation, the article argues that policy perspectives can be leveraged to alter development priorities and acquire an enduring influence even in the face of non-implementation. The course of labour policy in India is a classic example of this. Through the trope of labour “invisibility,” the attempt here is to open up a wider discussion on labour policy continuities.

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Updated On : 23rd Aug, 2021
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