Job losses forced more than 10 million migrant labourers to walk back to their home states during the COVID-19 lockdown from March 24 until the end of June, according to Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways V.K. Singh. Perhaps a much smaller number chose not to leave the cities they once came to, with the dream of earning a livelihood and prospering one day.
I met one such ambitious worker in Delhi, the national capital, about four months after the “Unlock 1.0” began on June 1, but only to find that his dream had shattered. While he remained resilient and hopeful, he seemed to have lowered his ambition. The story of Nageshwar Sahani, who had migrated from Champaran district in the eastern state of Bihar in 2017, could be representative of millions of migrant workers. Only if we cared enough to listen to their stories.