All over India, millions of migrant workers are fleeing its shuttered cities and trekking home to their villages.
These informal workers are the backbone of the big city economy, constructing houses, cooking food, serving in eateries, delivering takeaways, cutting hair in salons, making automobiles, plumbing toilets and delivering newspapers, among other things. Escaping poverty in their villages, most of the estimated 100 million of them live in squalid housing in congested urban ghettos and aspire for upward mobility.
Last week's lockdown turned them into refugees overnight. Their workplaces were shut, and most employees and contractors who paid them vanished.