Panchayats have been the core of India's rural governance even before they received the constitutional mandate through the 73rd constitutional amendment in 1992, forming the basis of decentralization in the country. There are 2.5 lakh gram panchayats; over 6 lakhs villages; around 4500 urban local bodies and 4000 census towns in the country.
A crowd of people jostling by the ticket counter at Jhansi railway station in Uttar Pradesh; men and women, some with families in tow, boarding trains to Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai and other big cities. These are common sights during the summer months at Jhansi, a major town and railway junction.
Through no fault of their own, migrants were forced to leave the cities after the government imposed a Covid-19 induced national lockdown in late March. After losing their work, fearing they would run out of cash and food they trudged back along with their families to the villages in search of humanity, food, and a place to live.
Uttarakhand’s rural areas are marked by massive outflux of people and it is believed that rural migration may alter the state’s political geography.
The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the challenges to the youth as regards employment opportunities. The policy steps taken by the government have led to a slowdown in economic activities, leading to loss of jobs and mass unemployment.
Akbarbhai (35), a Maldhari (semi-nomadic cattle herder) is struggling to survive as the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus has hit demand of dairy products badly and led to prices crashing in Bhuj. He lives in Gandhinagari, an informal settlement in Bhuj that is home to around 30 cattle herders. His joint family of 15 members includes his two brothers and three sisters.
Uncertainty - the pervasive feeling that all of us have been living with from the middle of March 2020. It's the same in our partner villages in Odisha and Jharkhand. Communities we work with have been facing and overcoming uncertainties all through their lives. But this time, the crisis has put unusual stress on their abilities to cope.
It is an annual episode that plays itself out. Assam is, once again, reeling under flood – loss of human and animal life, severe damage to agricultural crops, property, millions of people displaced from their homes, absence of flood preparedness or early warning systems, delayed relief action by the government and the silent apathy of the mainstream media.
Radha Devi, the sarpanch of Bhadsiya, Nagaur tehsil, Rajasthan dissuaded the principal of the government school from forcing girl students to fetch water for mid-day meal preparation during school hours and sent these girls back to their classrooms.
Suddenly thrown out of work by a nationwide lockdown, the migrants who built our cities and our economies were forced to take the torturous walk away from the cities to their homes in rural India.