India’s Economy Hinges on the Return of Workers Who Fled to Their Villages

SATBUNGA, India—Covid-19 drove tens of millions of migrant workers from cities back to their home villages, often to farm, and its lingering presence threatens India’s decadeslong quest to lift its economy from rural poverty to the modern age.

In Covid-19’s first year, agriculture’s share of India’s total employment rose for the first time in at least 15 years, by 3 percentage points to 45.6%, government data show, yet it contributes less than a fifth of national output.

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