International Conference on
Facets of Covid-19 on Migration and Informal Sector workers
24th and 25th November, 2022 at ISEC Bengaluru
Centre for Economic Studies and Policy(CESP)
Centre for Research in Urban Affairs(CRUA),
Institute for Social and Economic
Change, Bengaluru, India
Call for Papers
The last few decades have
witnessed the rapid urbanization and currently 55% of the world’s population
lives in urban areas. This proportion is expected to increase to 68% by 2050
as per UN estimates (2020). Africa and Asia, which are already having urban
population more than Europe, Latin America, or North America – have seen
steep increase in their share of urban dwellers in the last 70 years (World
Economic Forum 2020). India has also witnessed an increasing trend in urban
population. In the last fifty years, the population of India in absolute
terms has grown two and a half times, whereas urban India has grown almost
five times and is expected to be 50% (Bhagat 2015). The growth of
urbanization is highly discernible in south Indian states with more than 35
per cent of the population living in urban centers, barring Andhra Pradesh,
while Karnataka’s urbanization has increased from 33.9 per cent in 2001 to
38.57 per cent in 2011.
Along with the natural increase
in population, the significant contribution towards Indian urban population
has been fueled by migration, which in turn is shaped by many economic and
non-economic factors like unemployment, low income, dependence on
agriculture, high poverty, environmental degradation, depletion of natural
resources in rural areas. The employment opportunities, especially in the
urban informal sector ensures livelihood to migrant labours, which is
comparatively better than their ???????native place. These migrant
population are mainly absorbed in the destination as domestic workers,
construction workers, cleaners, manufacturing sector workers, vendors etc.,
which represent 3D jobs (dirty dangerous demeaning jobs). The National
Sample Survey of 2014 documents that 94 per cent of workforce earned
livelihood as informal workers. These workers have no contract, social
security, compensation for injuries, access to drinking water, health care
and no safe workplaces. For instance, in India, construction sector is
considered as the major source of informal sector employment in India. And
most of the employees in construction sector are migrants. Most of them are
seasonal migrants and landless from economically weaker regions of the
Among others, an increase in
urban population demand for the development of infrastructure sectors, which
in turn increases construction activities tremendously resulting into the
steady movement of labour from rural to urban areas. According to
International Labour Organisation (ILO) the biggest increase in
non-agricultural employment has been in the construction sector, where the
share of employment in rural areas has increased from 14.4 per cent in
1999-00 to 30.1 per cent in 2011-12 (India Labour Market Update, July 2016).
This could be largely because, the construction work has taken as a means of
immediate employment. They are socially backward, unskilled, and uneducated
with low bargaining power and are most vulnerable due to their temporary
nature of work and lack of a definite employee-employer relationship. As
argued in the literature they suffer from cycles of excessive seasonality
nature of their job, scattered workplace, and lack of formal employee –
employer relationship, bondage, and indebtedness of employees (Jacob, 2011).
As a policy response, the government both central and state government have
tried to uplift their work and living condition through various
Given the multitude of problems
that the migrant workers were already encountering, COVID-19 was the
ultimate threat that life could offer to their already vulnerable lives.
Earlier study highlights that the construction workers enrolment into
Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (BoCW) is almost
non-existent, thus denying them the benefits during such unimaginably
difficult times. For instance, the plight of the migrant construction worker
is well reflected in mass exodus from metropolitan city to their natives
when the government announced the lockdown. This is among other issues due
to lack of savings to survive in the absence of daily wages. The struggle
represented the state of ‘no life’ if ‘no livelihood’ in the ‘metropolitan
city’ for informal workers. The segment that contributes immensely to the
urban structures have no existence if they are not able to contribute. Many
governments announced that registered migrant construction workers would be
paid ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000 for their survival due to Covid-19
outbreak. But the big question was how many of them would have access to
such benefits from the government as majority of them were not registered
under BoCW Board due to various reasons. The NSSO (2009-10) estimates reveal
that approximately 4 per cent of the construction workers in Karnataka have
registered under BoCW. Similarly, a study conducted in 2019 also revealed
that 2% of the construction workers in Bengaluru were members of BOCW (Kambara
et al, 2020). As they are the wage earners, the next question will be how
many of them would have had active bank accounts? If they did not have bank
accounts, then what was their plight? In this backdrop the proposed two days
international conference aims to bring the major issues/challenges
surrounding migration and informal worker during the Covid-19 to the fore.
The specific questions that we
intend to explore are (but are not limited to):
How the different Indian
states have responded to the COVID 19 situation?
What is the gender dimension
of the covid, migration and informality?
How has it affected the lives
and livelihood of the informal workers?
How has it affected the life
of children and their overall wellbeing?
What are the coping
strategies adopted by the migrants?
What are the social
constraints encountered by migrant workers and have they been welcomed in
How many of them have
preferred to migrate back to city post lockdown?
What roles were played by
Did informal workers’ skills
matter in coping with the pandemic?
What were the challenges in
managing basic needs of food, health, and sanitation?
How were they treated by the
Venue: The Conference is
planned to be conducted in hybrid mode at Institute for Social and Economic
Change (ISEC), Bengaluru.
About ISEC: The
Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) is an All-India Institute
for Interdisciplinary Research and Training in the Social Sciences,
established in 1972 by the late Professor V K R V Rao to create a blend of
field-oriented empirical research and advances in social science theories
leading to better public policy formulation. For more information, please
check ISEC website http://www.isec.ac.in
Objective of the Conference:
The central objective of the conference is to explore the relevant themes
and aspects embedded in the migration of informal workers during the
pandemic, while doing so we intend to call papers that explore changing
discourse both in theory and practice.
Who can participate: The
conference will be virtual as well as physical event depending on the
pandemic situation in the state. Besides invited keynote speakers, the
proposed Conference will invite papers from eminent scholars, academicians,
practitioners, and experts from India and abroad to discuss the various
dimensions of migration and construction workers during the pandemic. The
proceedings of the conference offer a key take home for building better
tomorrow for most neglected informal sector workers.
Interested applicants wishing to present original research should send their
extended abstract by September 15, 2022, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The extended abstract should comprise of 750-1000 words. Intimation
regarding shortlisting of abstracts will be sent by 30th September 2022. The
deadline for sending full papers with a word limit between 7000-8000 words
in MS Word format is October 30, 2022.
There is no
Accommodation and Travel Support:
Selected paper presenters (from outside Bangalore) will be provided
accommodation and travel allowance (AC Three Tier train fare).
conference papers will be considered for publication in an edited volume by
a reputed international publisher.
Malini L Tantri, Assistant Professor, Centre for Economic
Studies, and Policy (CESP), ISEC.
S. Manasi, Associate Professor, Centre for Research in Urban
Channamma Kambara, Assistant Professor, Centre for Research in
Urban Affairs, ISEC.
15th September 2022
short-listed abstracts: 30th September 2022
Submission of full papers
(to: email@example.com): 30th October
Conference: 24th and
25th November 2022