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Journal of Asian Public Policy ; 15(2):175-197, 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1873806


With the nation-wide lockdown announced on 24 March 2020, India came to a standstill. Despite substantial constraints, multiple initiatives by civil society actors in providing the much needed relief and assistance to vulnerable populations during the lockdown have emerged. Considering lockdown as a wicked policy problem, we examine the roles and strategies of two civil society actors in opening up policy spaces. Our focus is on the two most livelihood-intensive sectors of the economy (i.e. agriculture and forestry) during the first two phases of lockdown in India. The first case highlights the use of judiciary to reframe the problem for agriculture in the lockdown policy implementation at the national level. And, the second case shows change in policy implementation at the regional level, again using problem reframing for the well-being of forest-dependent communities using advocacy with policy-makers and sustained social media activities. Building on the two cases, we argue for the crucial role played by the larger civil society actors in bringing the issues of marginalized communities to the policy agenda by opening up diverse policy spaces, and thus contributing to the changes in policy implementation under unprecedented uncertainty during the lockdown in India.