COVID-19 and the South Asian State: A Cross-National and Cross-Regional Comparison

Project status


This project aims to understand and analyse how ‘the state’ in South Asia addresses labour rights and health provision of workers during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a cross-country and cross-regional comparison between India (Delhi, Kerala) and Sri Lanka (Colombo, Jaffna). It seeks to map variations in state responses to workers’ employment issues and health concerns and relates these to differences in state structure (unitary-federal), regime type (militarisation, autocratic democracy), the strength and mobilisation capacity of workers and the nature of party-political competition. The project will engage with academic research partners in India and Sri Lanka, who will take a lead role in collecting and analysing documents and visuals, conducting qualitative research, co-authoring and contributing to dissemination. The project will generate articles, policy briefs, virtual workshops and serve as a pilot for an expanded research project involving more studies from South Asia.

Research team

Dr Wilfried Swenden, University of Edinburgh; Dr Sarvananthan Muttakrishna, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka; Dr Kanchana N Ruwanpura, University of Edinburgh; Dr Papia Sengupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India; Dr Aardra Surendran, Tata Institute for Social Sciences, India

Sign up to our email newsletters