Lockdown Woes: Desperate Villagers Loot Flour, Grape Farmer Forced to Throw Away Harvest


Lockdown Woes: Desperate Villagers Loot Flour, Grape Farmer Forced to Throw Away Harvest

Illustration: Aishwarya Nayak

As India’s 21-day nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak continues, there’s  a growing divide in the country between those who have the means and privilege to weather the lockdown’s consequences, and those who have to resort to extreme measures just to survive. For the past few days, news has been emerging of migrant workers trekking hundreds of kilometres on foot to return to their villages, facing starvation, thirst, and exhaustion on top of the threat of contracting COVID-19. It’s a desperate situation, and has led some to take desperate measures.

This video of people in Rajasthan looting a supply truck of sacks of flour that is doing the rounds of social media is a graphic reminder of how hard this lockdown has hit some sections of society that they are resorting to crime. While Rajasthan Police have arrested 10 people in connection with this incident of looting, the owner of the truck was sympathetic toward the looters.

It’s not just consumers of commodities who are beginning to feel the pinch caused by this massive countrywide lockdown. Even the producers of our supplies, the farmers and agriculturists, are facing a difficult situation as the disrupted supply chains cause their produce to go bad, or become otherwise unusable.

This video of a grape farmer in Karnataka dumping his harvest into a compost pit since buyers failed to reach him in time due to the lockdown speaks volumes about how bad things are getting for those who depend on an interconnected supply chain. While the well-off in cities are bemoaning their lack of socialising options, some workers are staring at the destruction of their livelihoods in the face.

This trend of goods and supplies going to waste began even before the lockdown was formally announced. Even more shocking than the video of the grapes being dumped was one of a poultry farmer burying a truckload of chickens, as the price of meat falling due to the COVID-19 outbreak made the birds less valuable than the feed he was giving them.

The coronavirus outbreak is putting the squeeze on both ends of India’s supply chain, and even if a vaccine for COVID-19 is soon developed, the country’s economic recovery might take even longer.