The romantic part apart, while in Jamshedpur, twice I
accompanied the relief team to the villages around. It was in many ways a
pathetic scene. While those who had ration cards got free ration, there were so
many who did not have cards. But for the mercy of non-governmental
organizations and alumni groups like that of XLRI, they would go hungry.
The villagers seemed to go around with their daily
routine, but we could make out there was substantially reduced economic
activity. The wayside toddy shops seemed less active and some of them had even
shut down. There was a sense of gloom all over. Those daily wage earners had
now to stay home. Worse still, their children, brothers and sisters were
returning from other states, often with the virus. There was an air of fear all
around. Consoling memories are of an active civil administration in Jamshedpur
and the alert civil society organizations.
Meanwhile, the migrants all across the country
kept walking, starved, brutally treated and even being killed. One watched in
silent horror at the atrocity of the ruling regime, which continued to cling
thalis, shower flowers and top it all with nationalist and jingoist speeches.