Lockdown's Aftershocks

After the lockdown over coronavirus that has infected more than 700 people and triggered a massive migration, Dilipji Thakor has to either walk home or die hungry, as essential services are suspended to contain the outbreak. Buses and trains were crowded before India went to 3 weeks long lockdown but many still left behind. "Rather than die hungry, we decided to walk," said Thakor. He worked at mall in Ahmedabad. Jamu Rathwa headed from Surat towards his village says, "At least we have a home and support system in our village. Here (in Surat) we have nobody". Birender who worked as a driver in Delhi has a family waiting for him 200 miles away. "I haven't had a proper meal in the last three to four days... I don't know what I will do here without food or anywhere to stay," he told AFP.  According to a government survey for 2016-17, around a fifth of India's workforce are migrant workers. Lack of jobs in poor states drives them towards wealthier states. Since many are unregistered, we can't be sure how many have reached home and how many are still on their way. Kana Ram, a district official said 21000 people showed up at Rajasthan-Gujarat border on Thursday alone. "The numbers have dropped significantly today but we are still getting around 500 people per hour," Ram told AFP. Welfare package of Rs.23 billion was announced to help citizens with direct cash transfers and food subsidies. Although private entities, federal and state governments are trying to handle the situation, still there exist poverty and unemployment in rural areas that drove people away in the first place. According to Abheek Barua, chief economist at HFFC Bank, if this "reverse migration" continues, it will have an adverse impact on the rural economy. "Spending on health and other sectors will have to be put on a war footing," he says. While two brothers on their 1200-kilometer journey back home on a cycle ricksha said they will never return. "We will earn less money in our hometown, but we will work from there.," said one of them. "When I get tired, my brother pedals. When he gets exhausted, I take over."

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Detailed post can be found at Stranded by virus lockdown, India migrant workers walk home


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