Life in Lockdown

A study on the perceptions and experiences of the lockdown among India's urban youth


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As India emerges from a nation-wide lockdown, it finds itself in uncharted territory, with the pandemic fundamentally altering the way we work, learn and communicate.

Perhaps the most affected is its young population, who represent 65% of India’s 1.3 billion people. It is within this context that this study aims to understand the perceptions and experiences of the lockdown among India’s urban youth.

This report outlines findings from a study of youth in India between the ages of 18 and 32, living in the country’s largest cities, including, Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad.

The idea behind the survey was to understand how the lockdown has affected their schooling or work, their access to healthcare and insurance, the impacts of the lockdown on their mental wellbeing, and their opinion of the government’s ability to respond to the crisis.

Here are the findings from the responses:


Impact of the lockdown on education and employment

Access to social protection

Impact of the lockdown on mental health

Assessment of the govt's response to the crisis


Based on a sample of 4599 respondents.



of the respondents were employed prior to the lockdown and 23% were students.


At 27%

Delhi held the highest number of respondents, followed by Mumbai (22%), Bengaluru (18.4%), Kolkata (18.3%), Chennai (8.8%) and Hyderabad (5.5%)



respondents were living with their family, 11% were living alone, 8% were with their significant other, 6% with housemates or friends and 4% with their extended family.



When asked if their educational institute made provisions to ensure for them to continue their studies during the lockdown, students responded:

At the same time, 52%

of the student respondents selected self study as their most common mode of study.


60% of the working respondents were working from home, while 25% were sitting idle since the nature of their job didn't allow remote working.


of the respondents also said that they felt supported by their employer.

For both students and working professionals, Bengaluru appeared as the most prepared city in providing digital access and support.

Access To Social Protection During The Lockdown

Measures like health coverage to unemployment protection, income transfers, and parental leave provided by government to ensure the wellbeing of the population.


Only 31%

of respondents said they have health insurance either through their employer or privately.


Just 15%

respondents have paid sick leave.


At the same time, 66%

respondents think they would have access to healthcare when needed.



respondents agreed or strongly agreed to having access to all basic necessities during the lockdown.

Impact Of The Lockdown On Mental Health



respondents felt that their mental health has been somewhat or strongly impacted during the lockdown. When asked if they felt lonely during the lockdown, they responded:



respondents also said they connected with someone they hadn't been in touch with recently.



respondents contributed to government and NGO initiatives aimed at responding to the coronavirus crisis, donations being the most common method.



respondents did not feel safe from physical and emotional harm during the lockdown.


At 33%

More non-binary youth reported feeling unsafe from physical and emotional harm.



respondents living with their extended family report feeling unsafe from physical and emotional harm.

Assessment Of The Govt's Response To The Crisis



respondents said they had enough and accurate information about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves from it.


also selected that they would first call the state helpline if they or someone in their household exhibited COVID-19 symptoms.



respondents expressed confidence in the government's ability to respond effectively to the crisis.

When asked about countries India should take lessons from, respondents turned towards South Korea, China and Japan as examples in managing the pandemic.



respondents felt that the lockdown was a necessary step to curb the spread of COVID-19.



respondents reported that they followed all of the lockdown guidelines.


This study set out to understand the implications of one of the world’s strictest nation-wide lockdowns on urban youth in India, and the findings offer policy-relevant glimpse into the impacts of the lockdown. It highlights different aspects, from strengthening access to education and remote learning, providing better healthcare support, to addressing mental health in post lockdown India. The findings of the study can go a long way in prepping the plan of action as India heads into Unlock 2.0!


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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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