How can India control Coronavirus, and at what cost? | Foreign Correspondent

How can India control Coronavirus, and at what cost? | Foreign Correspondent

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When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the world’s biggest lockdown, he gave the nation of 1.4 billion people only four hours’ notice.

He unleashed one of the biggest mass migrations in his nation’s history and left the poor in the cities with no means of earning an income or feeding their families.

Tens of millions of migrant workers, who’d moved to the cities to find work, lost their jobs, their wage and their homes overnight. To find food and shelter, hundreds of thousands hit the road to head back to their villages.

In a bid to stop the movement of people and the virus to the countryside, governments cancelled trains and buses, and closed state borders. Many kept walking anyway, often trekking hundreds of kilometres to get home.

While the government has tried to help those in need by providing food and financial aid, not everyone has benefitted.

Foreign Correspondent’s Emma Alberici tells the story of how the poorest of Indians are coping with this nationwide shut down, and asks, is the cure is worse than the disease?

We speak to families living in the slums of Mumbai and Delhi.

‘We are very worried about the lockdown. I can’t even get my daughter’s milk for her...She says, “Mummy I want milk” Where do I get her milk from?’

‘They tell us to wash our hands, change our habits. Where do we have the means to change our habits?’ , says a desperate father in Delhi, whose family shares one tap with 20 others.

People are left to fend for themselves and you find migrant labour which is actually creating wealth for Mumbai are thrown under the bus’, says a lawyer who works with residents of the Dharavi slum in Mumbai.

We spend time with one of India’s most famous journalists Barkha Dutt who’s made it her mission to shine on a light on India’s most vulnerable.

‘If the lockdown has indeed worked…then a disproportionate amount of that price for keeping the country safe has been paid by the poorest Indian citizens’, says Dutt. We speak with the government who says if it hadn’t locked the country down, the virus would have spread and ‘ it would have led to a catastrophe’.

Celebrated author and activist Arundhati Roy observes, "The poor have been excised from the imagination of this country…This corona crisis sort of exposes the bare bones of what’s going on."

About Foreign Correspondent:
Foreign Correspondent is the prime-time international public affairs program on Australia's national broadcaster, ABC-TV. We produce half-hour duration in-depth reports for broadcast across the ABC's television channels and digital platforms. Since 1992, our teams have journeyed to more than 170 countries to report on war, natural calamity and social and political upheaval – through the eyes of the people at the heart of it all.

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