Suresh, a 45-year-old migrant, worked in a small unit in Mumbai, manufacturing electronic meters. The catastrophic effect of Covid had shut down the unit, which resulted in his losing the job. Since the first wave of the pandemic, Suresh has been at his native village near Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, where he returned during the lockdown in May 2020, after he lost his job in Mumbai, his address for a decade. He was jobless for almost a year but was hopeful life would get back on track after the government revoked the lockdown. Instead, the Covid second wave amplified the catastrophes, leaving Suresh with no option but to look out for alternative opportunities. With the help of his family members and friends, he started a book and stationery shop at his village.
Suresh is not alone. According to the recent report of Action-Aid India, 54 per cent of those who had returned to their native villages during the first lockdown want to remain in these areas. The miseries of migrant labourers were not a new phenomenon, but the Covid pandemic exposed them severely.