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COVID-19, Internal Transitions and Vulnerable Citizens: Narratives of the Migrant Crisis in India during the Pandemic

Published on May 16, 2024



This article illustrates how the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to an internal migrant crisis in India, making the country realise the presence of physical borders within itself. Through a narrative analysis of the chronicles of internal migrant workers and the migrant crisis published in print media during the first wave of COVID-19, this article elucidates how internal borders within a country became impermeable, affecting the rights and well-being of vulnerable citizens, who were labelled ‘disease carriers’. The discrimination and othering faced by migrants aggravated during this period, making them more prone to fall through the cracks of the crisis. Although mobility restrictions were important public health tools to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 infections, they undoubtedly exacerbated the pre-existing socio-economic inequities and vulnerabilities. Problematising these aspects of the migrant crisis during the pandemic, this article proposes migration policies and governance through effective public communication, inclusive decisions and human rights as a way forward.

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