An on-the-ground report from One Billion Literates Foundation
“We are being forced to pay rents by our landlords”, he said on the verge of tears; “how do we pay when we don’t have money to get food?”, he continued.
OBLF’s team is deep inside one of Bangalore’s largest industrial belts in the outskirts of the city. The landscape is dotted with communities and colonies of migrant and non-migrant populations, and has the trademark shanties with the blue tarpaulin which serves as the only shelter against the elements; and if they are lucky, they have a tiny 3’*3” shed, open to the sky, where they can bathe in some privacy. We are the first “officials” who have reached this area in vehicles bearing some food. There is no point in explaining to them that we are not from the government.
So for the next half-hour we are listening to complaints; some are complaining about landlords who are extorting; others about husbands being out of jobs for several months; yet others about back wages due from construction contractors who have vanished. And all this, while trying to get the scores of people who have emerged from the shanties clamouring for food.
It is deeply unsettling to listen to these complaints; it is even more unsettling to know that you have absolutely no wherewithal to do anything about this. At least not today; not right now. But yet, this is the reality of tens of thousands of our citizens; the situation exacerbated by the current lockdown. We distribute our food kits and we leave; but with a heavy heart knowing that this situation is not going to change easily;
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