EXPERIENCES OF INDIA’S MIGRANT WORKERS DURING THE PANDEMIC – A PAINFUL CONTRADICTION IN INDIA’S CONSTITUTIONAL NATIONHOOD

“We the People” remains an abstraction enshrined within India’s constitutional ethos. It commits to a universal adult franchise and free and fair elections. However, if the experience of our migrant workers tells us anything, it is this: the attainment of universal adult franchise and the presence of seventy years of electoral democracy has had little bearing on actually transforming the labouring masses into “We the People.” This contradiction has been exacerbated during the pandemic, with millions of migrant workers missing from the country's official data deprived of access to state's social security schemes, thus denying them their basic human rights. Drawing from these incidents, this paper will examine the crisis of political legitimacy in India. The paper will outline what it means to be democratic in India’s constitutional nationhood, and will argue that federal and state governments have violated this ethos due to their actions and inactions regarding internal migrants.