Divided nation, divided lives

There is a nationwide lockdown. But like everything else, rules for the rich and the poor are not the same. An illustrator draws the big divide

Our nation is in a lockdown together, but never before have we witnessed the fault lines that run through our country dividing the privileged and the under privileged. The lockdown lives of the two are a world apart. While the privileged are grumbling about confinement, boredom, house-labour, and find solace in entertainment, self-care and cooking, millions of migrant labourers scrambling to get to their villages with hungry kids piggybacked and hundreds of  kilometres to walk. But what stood out in last one month is the apathy, extreme insensitivity and complete lack of empathy of the rich towards the unfortunate and their families. “Why can’t they stay put at their place during the lockdown?”, “Why are they travelling and spreading the virus?” “Why did they sleep on the tracks?”

Triggered by the “reactions of the privileged citizens, sitting comfortably in their bubble, criticising this vulnerable community for their actions and repercussions”, Akhil Monu Mathew, an associate creative director at an advertising firm in Bangalore, created a set of illustrations that bring us face to face with the glaring social divide in the time of the Covid crises.  “The news about the exodus of migrant workers during the COVID pandemic in India put me in a mixed state of sadness, frustration, and helplessness… My intent through these illustrations was to evoke a bit of empathy towards our fellow human beings,” he says. Some of Akhil’s illustrations are inspired by photographs of the migrants taken by journalists who have been covering the ill-managed migrant crises in the country.

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