Recently, the video of BBC journalist Salman Ravi offering his shoes to a migrant worker walking barefoot went viral. People were touched by Salman’s undoubtedly kind gesture. 


However, in just five minutes, the video also highlights the numerous ways in which not just the government, but also we, as a society, have failed those who were most in need of our support.

Salman Ravi posed a simple question to every migrant he came across, “kaha se aa rahe ho, kaha ja rahe ho?” (where are you coming from, and where are you headed?). 

And every migrant’s response held a single commonality – of how they were let down: 

1. A  broken cycle paid for from their meagre savings is the only conveyance this entire family has used for six days. 

Perhaps the fact that migrants were driven away from roads by police officers, comes as an ‘acceptable explanation’ to those asking, “why would a migrant chose a train track as a resting place?” 

2. Lockdown is not the same for everyone in India. And nothing exposes this better than this migrant worker’s explanation. 

The socio-economic divide has always existed in our country. This pandemic has just exposed the extent of it. And suffice to say, it’s a rude exposure. 

Because even layoffs work differently in our economy.  

3. Perhaps those wondering why the migrants needed to head home in the first place, will understand that staying without a roof on your head is not ‘ideal’. 

Perhaps, just perhaps, this video serves as a much-needed wake-up call for those of us who are so ignorant of our own privilege, that we appease our conscience by lighting diyas and believing that it’s all that a government is expected to do. 

A diya does not put food in the bellies of those who still fear starvation and poverty more than a pandemic. 

H/T: Video Report by Salman Ravi for BBC Hindi. 

All images are screenshots from the original video shared by BBC Hindi, unless specified otherwise.