Humanitarian crisis in India

Sadly, it feels like another week with another heartbreaking story I am writing to share with you. There is no doubt that the Coronavirus has impacted us all in truly horrible and unimaginable ways. From losing jobs, to losing the most basic of our civil liberties that we have all taken for granted, to some of us tragically losing our loved ones, all of us have been impacted in the most severe of ways. But even in such dire times, as I sit here stuck in the relative comforts of New Delhi in lockdown, there is the most tragic and unimaginable humanitarian crisis happening right now in India that is more than heartbreaking.
On the 25th March 2020, the Indian government instituted a national lockdown of the entire population. 1.3 Billion people. No movement. No traveling. No transport. At all. Cars are seized if you try to drive anywhere. No going for jogs. Walks with friends. Coffee catch-ups. And whilst for the well off this was a horrible inconvenience, for the estimated 1 million daily migrant workers, this precaution has proved to be catastrophic for all, and sadly it has become fatal for some.
Daily migrant workers are people who do manual work and labor, mostly daily wages of $5 USD or so. These migrant manual workers are really the backbone of the Indian economy - from construction to cooking, to cleaning, to delivering everything, most of these workers leave their villages for the larger cities to escape poverty and in the hopes of better lives. But this also includes many garment workers and artisans move as well - any type of factory worker really whose business has been shut down and there is no choice but to head home.

As is the case in many developing nations, these kinds of workers often travel from outlying towns and villages to the larger industrial hubs and cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. The distances are often hundreds of miles or kilometers - which is usually serviced by India's extensive train or bus network - but these people are now forced to walk. Can you imagine, leaving your home - with every possession you own or want to take with you, and all the food and water you can carry - and attempting to walk home along a highway for hundreds of miles, with one million other people!
Even though like myself, other small designers in India attempted to keep their offices open and to pay their employees even after closure, a large number of them have left in the exodus, fleeing the cities and battling the elements and exhaustion to return home to their villages. Other developing countries must surely be facing similar departures. In India, these conditions, coupled with the complete shutdown of transport has turned into a humanitarian disaster or of catastrophic proportions.

Reports illustrate how the people, carrying all their worldly possessions and minimal amount of food, awake at sunrise, walk along the highway (in their tens of thousands), until the sun goes down, and then they lay down and sleep on the road. They awake the next day, and continue again, at sunrise.
Taking steps to lockdown an entire country may or may not be the right thing to do, no decision like this would be taken lightly and hopefully, it will drastically help what they are forecasting will be a horrible impact of COVID in India. But any decision like this, and indeed every decision our governments make for us, and that in turn we make for ourselves - have impacts.  
We are all suffering and struggling. We are all trying and doing our best. But just know that some people are really struggling, literally walking for their lives.
So please read this. Know that we are all in this together. Please count yes blessings, if you can. Hug your children or spouses. Call your siblings or parents. Help your neighbours. And do the right thing. Stay home. Isolate. And be safe. Because many people don't have the choice or the ability to do what we so easily complain about and we should all be thankful and appreciate the benefits and good fortune that we have.
Together we can stay strong, and get through this. Together.
Stay safe and stay strong.

1 comment

  • SYlvia KItto

    I am so sorry to hear of the plight of these beautiful people. Truly, a peaceful,courteous, kind and thoughtful population in India. We have many Indian friends in our community whom we admire and look up to because of their beautiful persona that they exude at all times. May God (or their higher power) bless them as they try to maneuver through these difficult times!

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