Understanding the multifaceted impact of COVID-19 on migrants in Kerala, India

Rajan, Irudaya S, Batra, Pooja, Jayanth, R. Sai Shiva and Sivadasan, Tharatha Moolayil (2023) Understanding the multifaceted impact of COVID-19 on migrants in Kerala, India. Development Policy Review, 41 (1): e12636. ISSN 0950-6764

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Motivation: COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of millions of people worldwide. Migrants in developing economies have been among the most affected. This vulnerable population faces a threat to their livelihood and way of life. Hence, there is an urgent need to understand the impact of the pandemic on their lives to be able to tackle subsequent waves of the pandemic or similar future exogenous shocks. Purpose: We delve into the economic and social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on the employment, sources of income, and lives of different categories of migrant labourers in the Indian state of Kerala. Methods and approach: Using the livelihood portfolio theory, we dissect this impact in relation to a wide range of issues. This was corroborated by in-depth semi-structured interviews with three categories of respondents. The interview data was analysed by using the directed qualitative content analysis method. We created themes from the data and juxtaposed them with the livelihood portfolio theory in addressing the research objectives. Findings: Results highlight the impact on livelihood, lifestyles, migration prospects, and gender aspects. First, households dependent on international migrants were more severely affected than those with family members who were internal migrants. Second, a considerable lifestyle change (more reliance on a plant-based diet) and borrowing patterns (more reliance on informal money lending) was reported. Third, opinions on future migration prospects were pessimistic, and a trend towards reverse migration was noted. We also captured resilience measures for each of the themes. Policy implications: We find that blanket responses to mitigate migrants' hardships could be counterproductive. Policy-makers ought to implement tailor-made policies keeping in mind the migrants' classification and socioeconomic demographics. Further, we recommend specific measures to address challenges that women face, to ease their workload and mitigate the loss of income. Specific measures aimed at initiating attitudinal change such as creating mental health awareness, curbing misinformation, and providing counselling services could also add immense value in tackling the pandemic.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: COVID-19 | India | Internal Migration | Kerala | Left-Behind Households | Return Migration
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Social Sciences (General)
JGU School/Centre: Jindal School of Banking & Finance
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2023 04:03
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2023 04:03
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/dpr.12636
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/6217


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