India: Under Lockdown | 101 East

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Social distancing and good hygiene are essential weapons in the fight against COVID-19.

But how can you maintain social distancing in one of the world’s largest slums? How can you wash your hands regularly when there is no running water? And what happens when millions of people who survive on meagre wages are suddenly without work and struggling to feed themselves?

In India, 1.3 billion people were confined to their homes with just four hours’ notice as the country embarked on the world’s biggest lockdown.

Tens of millions of migrant workers suddenly found themselves jobless, quickly running out of money and food, and unable to return to their villages across India.

Ibrahim Mohammed worked as a rickshaw puller in New Delhi, but now he cannot leave the slum where he lives with his wife and four children.

“Ever since the lockdown was announced, we are dying of hunger,” he says. “Now they say there is a sickness in the air. We may get sick, but before that, we will die of hunger.”

Construction worker, Bhikhari Yadav, says he can no longer send money home to his wife and children in the eastern state of Bihar. He says migrant workers feel abandoned.

“We have made this country the way it is,” he says. “But right now, the poor man is being kicked in the stomach.”

101 East investigates India under lockdown.

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