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‘Aren’t we frontline warriors?’ Experiences of grassroots health workers during COVID 19

This compendium brings stories of frontline health workers on their everyday experiences of working during the COVID 19 pandemic. These stories travel from different parts of India, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. These stories emerge from individual telephonic conversations with each one of them between July – November 2020. The frontline workers whose experiences feature here work at the interface of the community and healthcare system, including the Accredited Social Health Activists [ASHAs, also known as Sahiyas in some states], ASHA facilitators (ASHA Saathi/Sahayogini), Auxiliary Nurse Midwives [ANMs], Mitanin [community health volunteer] and Mitanin Trainers. Each experience is unique as it traverses the specific geography, community, family, health system and how COVID 19 itself has unfolded in the specific area at that particular time. Yet, some commonalities and lessons go a long way in reiterating the critical role played by community health workers and providing them with the much-needed recognition and support from the health system. The stories draw our attention to the frontline workers as a dynamic group of people who are worn out, unpaid, and neglected during the pandemic but are also resilient, committed, creative, and active actors in the health system.

The stories are compiled by Arima Mishra and Sanjana Santosh.

Download the compendium here

 
Where have all our gunda thopes gone?

Gunda thopes (local name for a wooded grove) are groves that have existed across villages in Karnataka, and even around cities like Bengaluru for many years. Situated in the vicinity of the city, these thopes were of significance for the local communities who planted and cared for them.

Sadly, as urbanisation swallows up the areas around the cities, the gunda thopes have been gradually lost. These groves have silently melted out of existence and even our consciousness, making way for roads, schools, residential complexes, malls, and IT hubs. The new generation hardly remembers a time when these groves existed, or how important they were in the economic, social and cultural life of the communities.

"Where have all our gunda thopes gone?" is an attempt to relive the glory of these groves through a fictional conversation between Lakshmamma and her friend Maranna, an old peepul tree. Through this simple conversation between the two, we learn about the times when thopes proliferated, prospered and also their recent transformations to other kinds of spaces. The visually crafted book, available in English and Kannada, is aimed at children and adults (with a child-like curiosity) who love to read a good story.

The book is authored by Seema Mundoli and Harini Nagendra, illustrated by Neeharika Verma, Sahana Subramanian, and Sukanya Basu, and, translated into Kannada by MK Shankar.

Download the book here

 
Impact of COVID-19 on Livelihoods of Informal Sector Workers and Vulnerable Groups in Bengaluru: A View from the Ground

COVID-19 Epidemic has impacted the Indian economy substantially and in different ways. The impact has been all the more severe on the informal sector, given the workers' vulnerable state. To understand and evaluate the effects, Azim Premji University undertook a detailed study of informal sector workers and vulnerable groups across Bengaluru. Drawn from inputs of various civil society organisations and NGOs, the report paints a grim picture of the challenges faced by the informal sector workers, whether self-employed (street vendors, waste pickers, auto drivers, mechanics, dhobis, small business) or working on wages rather than fixed salaries (domestic workers, sex workers, construction workers, piece-rate workers) and vulnerable groups (garment workers, security staff, retail shop workers).

The report emphasises that informal sector workers and vulnerable groups have highly precarious livelihoods. These challenges need to be tackled on multiple fronts, including creating better-quality livelihood opportunities, adequate social security, and public services. This requires synergy and collaboration between business, civil society and government; mere economic growth is insufficient to address these fundamental structural issues.

Download the report file here

 
State of Working India

The State of Working India (SWI) brought out by the Centre for Sustainable Employment (CSE) at Azim Premji University is envisioned as a regular publication that delivers well-researched, analytically useful information on India’s labour market, by bringing together researchers, journalists, civil society activists, and policymakers interested in labour and employment issues.

The report is based on the research of CSE staff, as well as on background papers which are available online. SWI conceives of India’s ongoing structural transformation as composed of two processes - movement of workers from agriculture to non-farm occupations (the Kuznets process) and from informal activities to formal ones (the Lewis process). But it adds crucial considerations of social equity and ecological sustainability to this standard framework.

To download the report please click here

Macroeconomics Research

Income Distribution and Effective Demand in the Indian Economy

Zico Dasgupta, July, 2020

Does there exist a trade-off between labour’s income share and output growth rate? Or does a reduction in wage share in itself reduces the output growth rate? These questions have returned to the centre stage in the midst of India’s present crisis as the government sought the dilution and suspension of labour laws as a counter-cyclical policy instrument. In the absence of any other stimulus or countervailing factors, the impact of such a policy would hinge on the relationship between income distribution and effective demand. This paper attempts to lay bare this relationship for the Indian economy through an empirical analysis of India’s macro data and a theoretical model on the basis of regression results.

Download the file here.

What Explains India’s High Growth Phase? Investment, Exports and Growth During the Liberalization Period

Zico Dasgupta, January, 2020

The Indian economy embarked upon a higher growth trajectory during the period of economic liberalization particularly due to high growth rate of output and investments during the 2000s as compared to the earlier period. But was it on account of implementation of liberalization policies per se, or was it primarily on account of factors which were exogenous to domestic policies? This paper argues the latter and attempts to provide an explanation of India’s growth story from the demand-side framework by highlighting its external dependence for keeping up the growth rate. Despite deterioration in net exports, it is argued that it was primarily the exogenous changes in the level and pattern of global demand which led to an increase in India’s corporate investments and output during the relevant period. One key conclusion which can be drawn from this analysis is that the objective of attaining high domestic output growth rate cannot be met in the present situation of weak global demand simply by repeating the strategies that were once implemented during the high growth phase.

Download the file here.

'From ‘Servant’ to ‘Worker’: The ‘Formalization’ of Domestic Work in Bangalore'

The focus of the research is the work and lives of ‘Domestic workers’ (henceforth, DW) in Bangalore, especially their struggles to form collectives as part of their attempt to transform their subjectivities from ‘servant’ to ‘worker’, and improve their life and work situations. Domestic work is precarious work constituting a large part of India’s informal economy. It exists within a political economic context signaled by rising incomes of urban middle and upper classes and the existence of a steady supply of working-class women (from mostly stigmatized castes but across all religions) ready for domestic work. It is also enabled by a cultural-ideological context signaled by the preference to engage DWs as a normalized cultural marker for upward mobility. Our research demonstrates the struggles of DWs, the dilemmas and obstacles they negotiate for their empowerment. It focuses on the collective actions of DWs in their workplaces, their families and neighborhoods, and within unions and labour-NGOs engaged in organizing DWs for “formalization” of work, demands for a ‘decent’ wage and work conditions, and innovations in the form and content of their collective rights.

Domestic Work is Work: an illustrated booklet

A summary of our research can be found in the form three main demands as illustrated in the 4-page pamphlet. Download the file here.

Domestic Work is Work: an interactive session

On International Domestic Workers' Day (16th June, 2020), Rajesh Joseph was joined by Geetha Menon (Stree Jagruti Samiti), Usha Ravikumar (FEDINA), and Balmurli Natarajan (Visiting Faculty, Azim Premji University) to discuss various issues regarding domestic workers' rights and dignity of labour. Watch the video here.

Farmer Producer Companies – Past Present and Future

This report on Farmer Producer Companies is based on a two year research study which (i) analyses their characteristics, (ii) investigates their strategic challenges, capitalisation, regulation, long-term potential etc., and (iii) recommends possible strategies for improving their viability. Producer Companies combine the principles of collective action with the structural benefits of a company. Over the last 17 years, thousands of producer companies have been promoted in India in the belief that they would enable small producers to pool their resources and establish successful businesses which would improve their incomes and reduce risks in the long run. This study identifies certain normative, strategic and regulatory challenges which may limit their chances of success and recommends a possible path forward, to enable practitioners and policy-makers to improve the viability of such companies in the long-run. Download the full report here

Politics and Society between Elections – 2017 & 18

The problems of India’s development and governance are routinely linked to the logic of India’s electoral democracy. As a result, a great deal is known about elections, but paradoxically our knowledge of politics and society between elections is relatively underdeveloped. As much as anything else, development and governance outcomes are shaped by how the government functions between elections: including, how it relates to citizens on a regular basis; how it provides routine public services to them; and how public order is maintained. Further, governance process are nested in the social and political relationships between citizens inter se and with government functionaries.

The Azim Premji University and Lok Niti will conduct three annual surveys titled ‘Politics and Society between Elections’ across 24 States and Union Territories.

Please find below the Reports from the first two surveys conducted in 2017 & 2018. Please click here to down load the reports

 
Politics and Society between
Elections – 2017
  Politics and Society between
Elections – 2018

Karnataka Crime Victimisation Survey: 2019

The Karnataka Crime Victimisation Survey report is being brought out by the Centre for Constitutional and Legal System Reform (CLS) at Azim Premji University. The report is based on the findings of a crime victimisation survey undertaken by Azim Premji University with the assistance of independent field investigators in 2017. The main objective of the survey was to understand the scope and nature of crime in the state and to analyse the extent to which the National Crime Records Bureau records capture the rate of crime in Karnataka. The report will be released at the end of August 2019.

Please click here to download the scope of the report and the survey questionnaire.


State of Working India

The State of Working India (SWI) brought out by the Centre for Sustainable Employment (CSE) at Azim Premji University is envisioned as a regular publication that delivers well-researched, analytically useful information on India’s labour market, by bringing together researchers, journalists, civil society activists, and policymakers interested in labour and employment issues.

The report is based on the research of CSE staff, as well as on background papers which are available online. SWI conceives of India’s ongoing structural transformation as composed of two processes - movement of workers from agriculture to non-farm occupations (the Kuznets process) and from informal activities to formal ones (the Lewis process). But it adds crucial considerations of social equity and ecological sustainability to this standard framework.

To download the report please click here



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