13 min

19 - Shagufta Siddhi "I have missed seeing people so badly" Postcards from Home

    • Society & Culture

Shagufta is an educator and also director of an intercultural learning project called Ganga Jamini. She lives in Delhi, India, with her husband and four year old daughter. She recorded her postcard on 23 June.

Shagufta set up Ganga Jamuni to connect young people with their vibrant and diverse cultural heritage; a response to the current populist political climate in India.

In this postcard, Shagufta talks about shifting learning online during lockdown, a period that brought family closeness but also financial stresses and emotional hardship.

Context

India’s government ordered a nationwide lockdown relatively early on 24 March and for a while it looked like COVID-19 had been contained. The WHO praised the stringency of action and India’s capacity to deal with the outbreak.

But this sudden decision, and the subsequent shutdown of transport networks, meant that daily-wage migrant workers suddenly found themselves with no money, place to live or source of food. Desperate, they took the dangerous decision to walk, hitch and cycle back to their home villages.

Over a series of phased relaxations the country has started to open up - ostensibly to stimulate the economy - with regions experiencing high outbreaks continuing to observe stricter measures. In turn, cases of Coronavirus have increased. By 12 June, hospital morgues had run out of capacity and beds for the most serious cases were in short supply.

In Delhi, cases are expected to rise to half a million by the end of July with the city’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, predicting a need for 150,000 beds. In a bid to temper the shortfall of hospital facilities, multi-specialty nursing homes, railway coaches, hotels, banquet halls, and stadiums, are being turned into COVID-19 care centres.

As of 26 June there are 497,359 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and 15,401 officially attributed deaths. Reports from hospitals suggest this number to be inaccurate.

India is the fourth most affected country in the world.

Episode links:

Ganga Jamuni on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gangajamuniheritage/

Ganga Jamuni on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gangajamuni/

WHO praises Modi: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-who-praises-indias-tough-and-timely-actions-to-stop-covid-19-spread-2211807

Migrant workers take dangerous journeys home: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-52672764

Overwhelmed hospitals results in death of a pregnant woman: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/12/india-coronavirus-agony-i-did-everything-to-save-my-wife-and-baby

150,000 cases by July: https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/3-000-new-covid-cases-in-delhi-total-at-59-746/story-JKGytNHeuLjO9Z2GBKz4eL.html

Converting spaces for COVID-19 care: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/delhi-coronavirus-aap-govt-arvind-kejriwal-amit-shah-6458924/

Underreporting of COVID-19 deaths: https://www.ft.com/content/5049c66f-449d-4a13-ba1c-f95893b60597

Shagufta is an educator and also director of an intercultural learning project called Ganga Jamini. She lives in Delhi, India, with her husband and four year old daughter. She recorded her postcard on 23 June.

Shagufta set up Ganga Jamuni to connect young people with their vibrant and diverse cultural heritage; a response to the current populist political climate in India.

In this postcard, Shagufta talks about shifting learning online during lockdown, a period that brought family closeness but also financial stresses and emotional hardship.

Context

India’s government ordered a nationwide lockdown relatively early on 24 March and for a while it looked like COVID-19 had been contained. The WHO praised the stringency of action and India’s capacity to deal with the outbreak.

But this sudden decision, and the subsequent shutdown of transport networks, meant that daily-wage migrant workers suddenly found themselves with no money, place to live or source of food. Desperate, they took the dangerous decision to walk, hitch and cycle back to their home villages.

Over a series of phased relaxations the country has started to open up - ostensibly to stimulate the economy - with regions experiencing high outbreaks continuing to observe stricter measures. In turn, cases of Coronavirus have increased. By 12 June, hospital morgues had run out of capacity and beds for the most serious cases were in short supply.

In Delhi, cases are expected to rise to half a million by the end of July with the city’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, predicting a need for 150,000 beds. In a bid to temper the shortfall of hospital facilities, multi-specialty nursing homes, railway coaches, hotels, banquet halls, and stadiums, are being turned into COVID-19 care centres.

As of 26 June there are 497,359 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and 15,401 officially attributed deaths. Reports from hospitals suggest this number to be inaccurate.

India is the fourth most affected country in the world.

Episode links:

Ganga Jamuni on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gangajamuniheritage/

Ganga Jamuni on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gangajamuni/

WHO praises Modi: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-who-praises-indias-tough-and-timely-actions-to-stop-covid-19-spread-2211807

Migrant workers take dangerous journeys home: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-52672764

Overwhelmed hospitals results in death of a pregnant woman: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/12/india-coronavirus-agony-i-did-everything-to-save-my-wife-and-baby

150,000 cases by July: https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/3-000-new-covid-cases-in-delhi-total-at-59-746/story-JKGytNHeuLjO9Z2GBKz4eL.html

Converting spaces for COVID-19 care: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/delhi-coronavirus-aap-govt-arvind-kejriwal-amit-shah-6458924/

Underreporting of COVID-19 deaths: https://www.ft.com/content/5049c66f-449d-4a13-ba1c-f95893b60597

13 min

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