Rehan Ansari | Writer, Playwright, Artist and Political Pollster | USA
Barun Ghimire | iProbono | Nepal
Taimur Rahman | Academic, Musician and Political Activist | Pakistan
Bhoomi Harendran | National Transgender Network (NTN) | Sri Lanka
Rakshita Swamy | Social Accountability Forum for Research and Action (SAFAR) | India
Gitanjali Prasad | iProbono | India
Meenakshi Menon | iProbono | India
Richa Oberoi | iProbono | India
Through a first-person storytelling narrative format, we invite the audience to listen to and reflect on the experiences of workers – who will describe the impact of rights and welfare-based frameworks including access to work and social protections on their multi-local lives – before, during, and in what may follow the COVID lockdown. Testimonies from migrants and activists will be shared from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The presentations will include both live and recorded statements and songs, as well as photographs.
The COVID lockdown and its resulting lockdown across South Asian countries triggered large-scale movements of workers engaged primarily in the informal sector from the place of work to their homes – including travel across nation-states, and within countries from urban to rural contexts. Across these jurisdictions, it created a humanitarian crisis, with many being rendered food insecure, and without access to work. The consequences have been devastating. This has shifted the focus of governments, United Nations agencies, policymakers, and the general public on the rights and socio-economic conditions of workers to an extent that has been unprecedented, while also opening up sites of protest by workers. What existed before the pandemic, and what is the imagination of what could exist after this crisis abates?