COVID-19 and Naga Migrants

Photo: The Morung Express Archives


The initial days of the pandemic in Nagaland State was characterized by fear, lockdown, inundation of Internet news and loads of community grapevine. Then on May 22, 2020 the first returnees of Naga migrants reached Dimapur from Chennai – a total of 1469 people consisting mostly of blue-collared workers, students and a few others. Another 18,797 people followed these first returnees in a couple of weeks. Many quarantine centres were established all over Nagaland districts and many local communities, tribal organisations, and churches played key and active roles during this crisis. 

Impact of COVID-19 on Naga migrant workers in Nagaland

This project is a collaboration between Oriental Theological Seminary and the University of Melbourne. It aims to document the impacts of COVID-19 on Naga migrant workers and come up with policy frameworks that takes into consideration indigenous communities’ experiences of the pandemic. Focused on community resilience and collective care, this project will engage with community leaders, return migrant workers, and community workers to underline themes of accountability and aspects of care during periods of crisis and emergencies.  

This collaborative project believes in co-creating and co-producing knowledge with concerned community members on the ground. As researchers involved in this project, we are committed to engage with voices of return migrant workers and concerned community members. By foregrounding their experiences, we aim to create guiding principles for policy makers, development practitioners, cultural associations, activists, and volunteers interested in promoting indigenous community resilience in the face of current and future crises. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated patterns of inequality and exclusion across the world, the global pandemic impacted disproportionately on vulnerable individuals and groups. For indigenous communities like the Naga people, issues of livelihood and structural inequality became central concerns. This project seeks to explore the connections between impacts of COVID-19 and wider issues of citizenship, inequality, and socio-political vulnerability in Nagaland. 

Oriental Theological Seminary team

Akumsangla Aier

Akumsangla is the Assistant Professor of Clinical Counselling. She has a EdD from Asia Graduate School of Theology, The Philippines.

Sashipokim Jamir

Sashi is the Associate Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and director of Foundation for Church and Society. He has a PhD from Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky.

Pangernungba Kechu

Panger is the Professor of Society, Christian Ethics and Contextual Theology and Dean of Post Graduate Studies. He has a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey.

The University of Melbourne team

Anne Decobert

Anne is a Lecturer in Development Studies at the School of Social and Political Sciences. She has a PhD in Anthropology of Development from the Australian National University.

Michael Breen

Michael is a Lecturer in Public Policy at the School of Social and Political Sciences. After completing his PhD at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Michael was a McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Dolly Kikon

Dolly is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies and Anthropology at the School of Social and Political Sciences. She has a PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University.


Photo: The Morung Express Archives

COVID-19 First Wave Handbook: Nagaland

The intention of this Handbook is archival and data-oriented in nature. Thus, it is mostly descriptive. It contains expressions of people’s Covid-19 experiences in poems, art works, and stories. It also includes images, statistical data, and certain recommendations. The editors of this Handbook hope that this modest work will provide a glimpse of the Covid-19 first wave for the later generation as well as encourage the present generation to act wisely during times such as this.

This Handbook focuses specifically on the “first wave” of Covid-19 in Nagaland. In order to garner the lived experiences of people and capture ground realities, the project team chose nine field researchers who conducted four interviews and subsequently wrote four stories each, as a way of analysing the interviews. They were all competent researchers with a Master’s degree in different disciplines. Among these researchers, two were journalists. 

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