The qualitative research study was conducted to understand and interpret experiences, challenges and barriers faced by lower-income group of people who are migrants and working, dwelling in resettlement colonies in these broad fields:
The study further deals with finding out from the migrant workers the ideas of mitigation strategies to overcome the difficulties faced by them that the government can implement for their benefit of overcoming the challenges of livelihood and health.
Madanpur Khadar JJ Colony, an urban unauthorized resettlement colony located in the South East Delhi district in Delhi has been chosen randomly from all unauthorized colonies in South East Delhi for the study. southeast Delhi is chosen because of the prevalence of highest percentage proportion of slum dwellers among all districts of Delhi. Current residents of Madanpur Khadar area are first or second generation migrants from the Indian states namely Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and/or West Bengal. The estimated population is around 25000, and the majority are Hindus. The residents are mostly engaged as drivers, unskilled laborers, security guards, vendors, construction workers, commercial workers, and the women are mosrlt engaged in factory work, domestic help, street hawking and industrial work. The area consists of 8 blocks in total by random selection 2 blocks had been selected for this study.
In-depth interview was employed as a qualitative research method. Why In-depth interview?
The basis of formative research stands on two major aspects i.e., How and Why. Questions that start with how and why involve qualitative enquiries that represent ‘microscopic’ (Geertz, 1973) details of human actions, interactions, and their interpretations. Therefore, such questions involving ‘how’ and ‘why’ cannot be quantified rather give freedom to the researcher to reflect and reformulate the research questions in order to acquire relevant information and new findings pertaining to the research. The study was exploratory in nature and accordingly, there was no clear, single set of outcomes (Yin, 1984, p.25). Thus, obtaining narratives on the experiences, worldview and belief systems of the respondents were feasible.
An essential approach adopted during fieldwork and to interpret data was the process of iteration. The idea was to reflect upon each finding to update and improvise research questions to have an understanding of the challenges and experiences of the migrant workers during lockdown and pandemic. It had happened when new information emerged during data collection, which further shaped the interview guide and course of the interview with the interviewees. Taking empirical data/analysis and inductive approach in mind; codes, themes, concepts, and categories emerge on their own from first hand information. The main goal of relying on first hand information was to understand the subjective perspectives than objective understanding and the process was reflexive. Iteration is nothing but a thorough reflexive process, i.e., visiting and revisiting the data back and forth to develop an in-depth understanding of emerging ideas. While themes and sub-themes were in process of emerging from the data, the focus was also on listening to the audio recording, reading field notes and scratch notes while interpreting the data over and over again to understand what data tried to tell and what they wanted to decipher in order to proceed with the interpretation. As a result, new themes emerged. Visits and revisits to the data helped them categorize each data in each subtheme conspicuously, which strengthened the data interpretation. In short, the process of iteration facilitated to interpret the data in a coherent manner to maintain the credibility of the data analysis.
Data for this research was collected in the year 2020 from 50 second-generation migrant workers residing in the two randomly selected blocks of Madanpur Khadar Colony. The data was collected using Respondent Driven Sampling, which combines snowball sampling with a convenience sampling model. It is a widely used method for sampling from hard-to-reach human populations, including migrants. They were chosen after they were interacted with and found to have immensely suffered psychologically, financially, and socially because of the pandemic and lockdown. The migrant workers were identified to have struggled with anxiety, worry, depression, constant panic, and economic stress based on the snowball sampling method. The length of each interview lasted 40-60 minutes.
Non-Participant Observation- To understand the respondent's symbolic/non-verbal gesture, household items, economic situation, and the concept of hygiene by keenly observing the home environment, which may not be assessed by another method, non-participant observation has been a successful attempt. It helped understand and interpret different perspectives and crosscheck the nuances of what has been shared by the respondent and what has been hidden which was otherwise visible.
Key areas of investigation:
The study focused on three broad areas of investigation. The key questions explored in the in-depth interviews were as follows:
1. How was your experience during the Covid lockdown and the peak pandemic situation?
[Probes:- Any increase in workload, more hours of work compared to pre-lockdown; more arguments, finding faults, bickering, violence, unable to sleep at night; increase in substance abuse, alcohol, smoking, others; by any/male members of family, husband; increased burden due to aggravation of illness of elderly family members, requiring additional time for caregiving; if working outside, whether able to continue]
2. During the lockdown period, did you ever feel stressed, or anxious? How did you feel?
[Probe: - Worrying too much, thinking of only the negative, continuous sadness and the associated feelings, feeling of guilt or hopelessness, whether unable to do things you enjoy, changes in sleep pattern like issue in falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much, change in eating habits during lockdown, loss of appetite causing significant weight loss or overeating, physical pain and/or unexplained pain, anxiety, fatigue or other physical symptoms without an apparent cause, problems concentrating or remembering things, losing control over situation, loneliness, isolation, relationship problems with family members, irritability, anger, watching unusually long hours of television/mobile phone, feeling as though life isn't worth living, or having thoughts of suicide]
3. If situation stressful, what were the main causes of stress; single most important cause and others.
[Probes: fear of unknown, fear of getting infected, fear of death, uncertainties, financial problems, economic insecurities, no job, pay cut, less or no income; woman ill-treated due to inability to earn during lockdown, feeling of low self-esteem, children’s education, continuous criticisms and bickering at home, old parents-in-law, own ill-health, pregnancy, any illness of the woman herself, child’s/family members ill, health care inaccessible, social isolation, no one to talk to; if infected, the fear of being forcefully taken away to hospital where dead bodies not removed; away from family, fear of discrimination, social stigma]
4. Did you face any financial difficulties during the pandemic?
[Probe: how many family members are working to earn a living, did anyone lose job due to the lockdown, consequences- took loan from neighbor/employer/relative, credit card loan, sold household assets/jewelry, exhausted savings/Fixed Deposit (FD), did not have money to buy food, have not paid rent, could not pay for health care, could not buy medicines]
5. Do you think some actions could be taken (by government, community, others) or alternate arrangements could be made to reduce the sufferings and harassments in leading a good quality of life?
[Probes: in terms of physical well being, mental well being and social well being, mitigation strategies that the migrant workers could think at their level to avoid terrible situation during another pandemic or another wave of the current pandemic]
Data were collected through audio recording with the consent of the respondents. Audio recordings were listened carefully and transcribed to develop codes to develop themes for organizing the findings followed by analysis in NVivo. After each theme with its sub-theme were prepared in NVivo using Nodes, relevant verbatim was extracted from the local language transcriptions and English translation to support findings in each theme and sub-theme. Framework analysis was adopted to analyze the summary of men and women participants’ experiences and perspectives. Additionally, it helped to identify common findings and variation in the data to draw descriptive inferences. It also helped to ensure that the analysis equally address the whole datasheet. Transparency while identifying data for each theme was maintained with the help of framework analysis. Not only that, it enabled to document diverse aspects of the phenomenon coherently as well.
Challenges encountered in conducting the study due to COVID and precautions taken
Initially, when the study was started, the families were apprehensive about interviewers visiting their homes and sitting for long duration inside homes for the in-depth interviews. However, after they were reassured that I am sanitized and am carrying a sanitizer and have put on a double mask, many of them were more comfortable allowing me to enter the households for the interviews, while in some households, the data was collected at the doorstep. All precautionary measures recommended by the government were strictly adhered to in the study by me. I maintained social distancing while conducting the survey and the interviews. During home visits family members I also provided them with masks and made their hands sanitized. All these measures followed by me conveyed a positive message and reassured the families.