The class bias of a lockdown . . .
It has been exactly one week since India went under lockdown and suspended all but essential services. Since then, India’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased threefold to 1,834, and 45 have died. Repercussions from the lockdown have been particularly harsh for India’s estimated 45 million internal economic migrants, the majority of whom work in the world’s largest informal economy. India’s migrant labourers generally move to cities to work in jobs without contracts or benefits. Under lockdown these workers have become unemployed and many have been left with little money and no home. Unable to sustain themselves in cities, thousands flocked to bus and train terminals over the weekend to find some mode of transportation back to their home villages.
Social distancing is a privilege . . .
Those who were able to find transportation often did so on overcrowded buses, exactly the conditions the Indian government sought to prevent with lockdown measures. Many took to the empty highways to find their way back home on foot as state borders closed to public transport. Some states have set up relief camps for labourers, but the majority have been left to fend for themselves. Fear of migrant labourers carrying the virus into remote areas has led authorities to enact drastic preventative measures, including incidents such as spraying incoming migrant labourers with chemical disinfectants.
Canadians stranded in India . . .
About 40,000 Canadians have been stranded in India since the country went into lockdown. Six Canadian repatriation flights have been arranged, the first flying out from New Delhi on Saturday, with an estimated cost to the passengers of around C$2,900 per ticket. Meanwhile, Canadian consulates are reaching out to Canadians stuck in Southern India about their options for travelling. With the increasing number of cases in India and events such as that in the Nizamuddin area of New Delhi, where a religious event held earlier this month became the epicentre of at least 20 COVID-19 positive cases, Canadians in India have become more anxious to return home.