In the shutdown, India has banned domestic and international travel, and factories, schools, offices and all shops other than those supplying essential services have been shut. Taken together, the measures amount to one of the harshest lockdowns in the world.
Cases here have spiked to nearly 17,000, with more than 500 deaths. On April 14, the government extended the curbs until at least May 3, prompting clashes between police and migrants trying to leave India’s financial capital, Mumbai.
Migrants are the backbone of the urban economy. Construction workers such as Dayaram are a necessity for India’s rapidly expanding cities. Others clean toilets, drive taxis and deliver takeout. They predominantly earn daily wages, with no prospect of job security, and live in dirty, densely populated slums, saving money to send back home.