“Those asking us to practice social distancing need to come and see how we live in a room of 8 feet by 8 feet,” Kunchikurve says, carefully sidestepping the slippery streams of water at his feet.
How can roughly one million Indian slum-dwellers packed into one square mile socially distance from each other? The grim truth is that they just can't. In this piece, special correspondent Parth M.N. talks to Indian construction worker Ashok Kunchikurve, who lives with his family of six in a small room in Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums. Despite their best efforts, Kunchikurve says it's impossible for his family to truly physically distance themselves, never mind practice good hygiene. All they own are two small white buckets and one water tap, which they use religiously – especially now that COVID-19 has recently arrived in the slum.
"Fights break out over little things,” Kunchikurve says. “Everyone is scared of the coronavirus. We are anxious about finding work. We know how vulnerable we are.”
For the Los Angeles Times, Parth M.N explores the problem of tackling the coronavirus in Indian slums, and the challenges nearly 92 million Indians like Kunchikurve who live in similar small one-room dwellings are currently facing to survive the outbreak.