The Pandemic Year: How India saw its greatest internal exodus

A five-part series as India marks a year of the dreaded COVID-19 lockdown: We look at how the pandemic brought the issues of internal migrants to the core

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 31 March 2021

India’s lockdown during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic brought untold miseries to working-class people.

After the lockdown was announced on March 23, 2020, hundred and thousands of migrants began to leave the big cities, trying to go back to their villages. This was the first time in the history of India that such large-scale internal migration had been noticed.

It was also for the first time that the country witnessed the overwhelming number of migrants who work in our cities. About 36 per cent of India’s population comprises migrant workers. But within this, there are two large groups, women and unskilled labourers. When the lockdown was announced, these two categories of migrants were the most affected.

In a five-part series, Down to Earth discusses the effects of the lockdown on different sectors in India. In the current episode, Hindi Down to Earth’s senior correspondent Raju Sajwan talks to Vivek Mishra, correspondent of Down to Earth about India’s largest internal exodus which was brought about by the pandemic.

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