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India’s Lockdown Hardships
News Bytes 03/31/2020 9 Comments

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized on Sunday. His apology to his citizens was over a three-week national lockdown, for which he gave only four hours’ advance notice. He called his measure harsh—but necessary in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

“I apologize for taking these harsh steps that have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people,” Modi said. “I know some of you will be angry with me. But these tough measures were needed to win this battle.”

On the previous Tuesday night, Modi announced on television, “There will be a total ban of coming out of your homes.”

The lockdown order went into effect at 12:01a.m. last Wednesday. The order was meant to keep India’s 1.3 billion people at home for all but essential trips to places like markets or pharmacies.

The government hoped it would keep the virus from overwhelming India’s health care system. But it has also put millions of Indians who live in the large cities out of work—and sent them fleeing back to their villages.

Pressure is mounting on India’s government to find ways to keep people in their homes instead of traveling across the country—possibly bringing the virus to areas not yet affected.

Experts say spreading is inevitable. Tens of millions of people live in overcrowded urban areas with poor access to clean water.

India’s lockdown is the world’s largest. Rickshaw drivers, produce peddlers, maids, day laborers, and other informal workers form the backbone of the Indian economy. They make up around 85% of all employment. Many live below the poverty line. They buy their daily food with that day’s wages; they have no savings to fall back on.

The governments of New Delhi and the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh have arranged buses to take migrant workers back to their home villages.

But local police officer Rahul Katara says bus passengers are facing difficulties getting to their destinations.

“There are not enough buses, and those that make it across the border to Uttar Pradesh are often being turned away by local district officials, so bus drivers are dropping passengers off as near as they can to their destinations,” Katara says.

R.K. Sharma is a carpenter headed to his home in eastern Jharkhand state. He’s carrying water, cooking vessels, a blanket, and a mat. If he’s not able to board a bus, he says he’ll continue on foot.

“It’s not so long a distance,” Sharma says. “I’ll reach it in two or three days.”

(An Indian migrant worker carries a child on his shoulders as they wait for transportation to their village following Prime Minister Modi’s lockdown. AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

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Most recent comments

Poor India! I wonder when

Poor India! I wonder when this coronavirus stuff will go away. Did anyone else hear that President Trump said that things will stay the same (being quarantined and stuff) through April?

I knew India was having a

I knew India was having a really hard time. When I saw the headline I groaned inside.

3rd comment

This is so sad :( I wonder if anyone starved that would be horrible! By the way anyone who wants prayed for just comment and I will pray for you

That picture made me feel :-(

That picture made me feel :-(

I will pray for them during

I will pray for them during this time of hardships.

That's awful. I wonder if

That's awful. I wonder if anyone caught the COVID-19 by traveling on the bus because I would imagine it would be really crowded inside the bus.

@ Lena P

Yes, I did see that. But it won't last forever!

Janna (Daniel's sister)

My family has friends who live in India. And Virginia has to stay quarantined till June...............

@Janna

June? Wow, that's a long time! For us it's just until the end of the month , but it could go on longer.

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