On the night of April 30, 2020, students and faculty from the UW South Asia Center logged onto Zoom for a virtual lecture from Mukta Naik, Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. An urban planner and architect who specializes in housing, urban poverty, informality, and internal migration, Naik shared her perspective on COVID-19 in India and how the nation-wide lockdown has affected migrants and laborers in Delhi and Gurgaon. Naik reflected on the meaning of increasing visibility for an “otherwise invisibilized population” and the meaning of home for rural and urban migrants. Illuminating the role of gram panchayats, slum collectives, workers unions, and state governments, Naik emphasized the role of civil society in addressing the growing hunger crisis in Delhi and surrounding areas. The talk was followed by a thoughtful Q&A session, and participants ended the meeting by unmuting their microphones and offering a round of applause for Naik, who had delivered her lecture at 8:30 AM in Indian Standard Time. As we adapt to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, this event offered a new, different form of social and scholarly engagement, bringing together scholars and practitioners from a range of geographic locations and time zones.
Earlier in the week, as part of the Jackson School’s COVID-19 Global Conversations Series, Prof. Sunila Kale spoke with Naik on the themes of state interventions, migration and mobility, and informal economies in India during COVID-19.
Check out the full video: