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In addition to Sainath's  What we should do about COVID-19 , listed below are nine other stories by PARI's reporters from different corners and from the migrants on the highway as well.


10) Where country roads don’t take you home  

Harinath Rao’s story shows how pastoralists in Telangana are faring under the 'lockdown.'  The herders are now finding it impossible to purchase medicines for their livestock, to visit their own villages, find grazing grounds for their herds - or even just recharge mobiles (which means they can’t reach their families).  They are isolated – access to food is decreasing. And they cannot even sell an animal or two for quick cash, as they would normally do. Harinath's story gives us a real insight into the lives of these herders and how their fragile existence is shredded by the kind of lockdown imposed on the country

9)  Locked down with cancer on Mumbai footpaths 

A disturbing yet insightful story by our Aakanksha on the plight of cancer patients hit by the lockdown and by the curtailment of other essential medical services as all attention shifts to the coronavirus crisis. Cancer patients coming to the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, from all over – distant villages in Bihar and UP for example, are now stranded. They cannot afford rooms on rent - and many of the small lodges around there are not open to them at this point, nor can they return to their villages as train and bus services are at a standstill in the lockdown. This story should make us think about the larger canvas of health in India as well. Particularly about the socioeconomic determinants of health.

8)  Still cutting cane amidst corona and curfew

M.N. Path has done this powerful, worrying, story   on the lakhs of labourers hired by the sugar factories of western Maharashtra, still cutting came in unhygienic conditions. They're trapped, like bonded labour, between serious  risk and certain hunger. These people mostly want to go back to their village homes but the factory bosses are forcing them to continue cutting till the end of the season (for some, that could go on well into April). Parth's story draws out the dilemma and great fear confronting the cane cutters. NOT to be missed.

7) Corona refugees on 538-kilometre journey.

Second of two stories from our Purusottam Thakur, is on the scenes at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, brought to light by Satyaprakash Pandey, a Bilaspur-based journalist and wildlife photographer. While the scenes of departing migrants in the metros and towns are well reflected in the media, Satyaprakash is reaching out out to poor migrants in distress trying to cover absurd distances on foot.

6) In Chhattisgarh: barricades as social distancing –

The first of Purusottam’s two stories: across Bastar, villages are barricading themselves, denying entry or passage to 'outsiders.' Even migrants returning to their home villages run into these problems at some level. Since the 'rules' of quarantine are being diversely issues and interpreted by states, district administrations and local officials - this seems to be a logical, if sad development, adding to the hardships of returning migrants and to the general chaos.

5)  'Soaps won't save us if we die of hunger first' 

This is a powerful, upsetting look at the unfolding fate of e Warli Adivasi families in Vada taluka of Palghar district in Maharashtra. The people in this fine but disturbing story, mainly daily-wage construction labourers, are now finding no work in the lockdown period. They are already experiencing serious hunger and not too far off from starvation.

Do NOT miss that powerful 2-minute video of the Adivasi daily wager expressing her anger and anguish. She just stays in my mind, she will stay in yours.

4) Sanitation workers - the wages of ingratitude

That lead photograph is really something!

The whole brilliant photo story captures the hypocrisy of the March 22 show of 'gratitude' to those on the frontlines of the battle against COVID and, indeed, most other diseases. Sanitation workers across the country -- in this case, in Chennai - battle disease round the year. Here they are on the COVID trenches - with little or no protective gear, no extra allowances or payments for this period, often walking long distances to work (and threatened with sacking if they take a day's leave now) - and sometimes journey to the workplace in lorries meant for transporting garbage.

3)  Tuljapur's temple economy goes into viral mode 

On the collapse of that town's temple-centric economy. It's a powerful report on how small vendors, shopkeepers, farmers dependent on the weekly markets - all are finding themselves crushed by the steep drop in visitors and the cancellation of the Chaitree yatra. Medha's story rubs in the fact here are virtually no survival strategies clearly available to the poor and the marginalised here - a picture that could possibly be the same across rural Maharashtra.

2) Essential services, expendable lives

This is a terrific story on the frontline warriors against COVID-19, the safai karamcharis who take grave risks - the year round, not just in times of a COVID-type crisis. From Chembur's Mahul village. It gets to the heart of many hypocrisies    


1) What we should do about COVID-19

My piece which kicked off our PARI series. It first appeared in The Wire on March 26, a couple of hours after that ‘package’ announcement by the Finance Minister. And my take of what we ought to do.

We need to get down to these measures right now. The government’s ‘package’ is a curious blend of callousness and cluelessness. It’s not just one virus we’re fighting – pandemics are also a ‘package.’  Of which economic distress can be a self-inflicted or self-aggravated part – driving us from calamity to catastrophe. Also included a brief tracing of the globalisation of communicable diseases.