The national lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in India resulted in the loss of work and displacement of thousands of urban migrant workers. This book records the arduous journey home for many of these workers and analyses the grave effects the pandemic has had on jobs, livelihoods, and the health of urban migrant workers.

A rich compilation of deep analytical articles by journalists, academics, lawyers, and social activists, this book explores various facets of the crisis as it unfolded. It examines the welfare policies of state and central governments and discusses the role of the judiciary and the public policy response to the unemployment, health risks, and mass migration of workers. It also offers readers a better understanding of the complexities of the migrant crisis, how it unfolded, and how it was addressed by the media.

This timely and prescient book will be of great interest to the general reader as well as researchers and students of media studies, journalism, sociology, law, public policy, labour and economics, welfare economics, gender studies, and development studies.

chapter |8 pages


part 1|24 pages

Lost in counting

part 2|48 pages

Abandoned by law

chapter 2.3|5 pages

National Commission for Women

Advisory to address needs of internal women migrants in India during COVID-19 lockdown

chapter 2.6|7 pages

Justice Madan Lokur

Supreme Court deserves an “F” grade for its handling of migrants 1

part 3|36 pages

The long march home

chapter 3.2|6 pages

Nightmare on Shramik Specials 1

chapter 3.5|4 pages


Odia women migrants suffer mental stress, feel nobody heeds their plight 1

part 4|58 pages

No wages, no jobs, no food

chapter 4.3|7 pages


Intra-state migrants marooned too 1

chapter 4.8|9 pages

Pandemic crisis

“Migrant home-based women workers work 8 hours/day for Rs 10–15” 1

chapter 4.9|8 pages

Pandemic-induced return of the migrant workers

Response of West Bengal 1

part 5|30 pages

Pandemic as an opportunity

chapter 5.1|4 pages

May Day

Twelve-hour working day notifications 1

chapter 5.3|12 pages

Labour law changes

Innocuous mistakes, sleight of hand, or taking sides 1

part 6|44 pages

Media and migrant workers

chapter 6.1|6 pages

Media in the time of COVID-19 1

chapter 6.6|9 pages

Audit of bigotry

How Indian media vilified Tablighi Jamaat over the coronavirus outbreak 1

chapter |10 pages


Were any lessons learnt?