Ranabir Samaddar (ed.):
Burdens of an Epidemic:
A Policy Perspective on Covid-19 and Migrant Workers

Burdens of an Epidemic: Covid-19 and Migrant Labour comes out close on the heels of Borders of an Epidemic: Covid-19 and Migrant Labour that was published in April 2020. This volume is a companion work of the latter. While Borders of an Epidemic was documentary in purpose and nature, Burdens of an Epidemic analyses the issue of migrant labour from several dimensions of the epidemic. The purpose of this tract is to present a policy perspective of the contemporary situation.

However, the goal of this tract is not to present a list of desirable policies and suggestions to be adopted by the government to address the issue of migrant labour during the Covid-19 crisis. In the last one and half month some concrete studies on the issue of migrant labour trapped in the lock down came
out. These studies contain important suggestions. Also some studies on the broader issues suggested in bare terms in Borders of an Epidemic have reached us.
There is no need to repeat them. On the other hand, this tract heavily relies on them. The purpose here is to draw out in the open the policy contexts of the reports published in the Borders of an Epidemic and their policy implications. This perspective on the policy world immediately compels us to face the question: Who bears the burden of the epidemic and epidemic control measures? Who pays – finally in terms of life and livelihood? The question takes us to the heart of the rights framework, namely the issue of justice. The analysis, edited by IWM recurrent Visiting Fellow Ranabir Samaddar, points out how an epidemic control policy seen purely in terms of the mechanism of lock down and other administrative measures becomes deaf to the call for justice.

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This publication is a part of the educational material for the Calcutta Research Group (CRG) programme in Migration and Forced Migration Studies. The programme is held in collaboration with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna, and several other universities and institutions in India. 

At the IWM, the programme is supervised be Ayse Caglar, IWM Permanent Fellow and Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna, within her reasearch focus “Migrants in City-Making and Urban Politics” (see details).

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