‘Every time I call someone is dead’: the angst of the Indian diaspora

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“I talk to my mother almost every day,” said Ansh Sachdeva, 23, a student at the University of Bolton in the north-west of England. “But every time I call someone is dead. Someone had Covid.

He says that on the street in New Delhi where his parents live, no house has been intact. He returned home in November to help take care of his parents and grandfather who had contracted the virus. But now he fears they will fall ill again, and the new travel restrictions would prevent him from getting there.

In January, it was his mother who worried about his return to Britain, when a disturbing second wave of the virus took hold there. “For them,” he said of the general perception in India earlier this year, “Covid was over.”

But it was not over yet. Many Indians abroad have watched with concern as the government allows cricket matches in crowded stadiums, mass election rallies and a large religious holiday called Kumbh Mela, where millions have gathered in one town. During this time, the levels of cases began to rise exponentially.

In Britain, home to a vibrant and diverse community of people with roots in India, the pain is palpable. At a neighborhood store in Harrow, a northwest London community with a large Indian population, two employees said they lost a brother last week.

The cultural ties between the two countries are deep, with the great British Indian diaspora estimated at over 1.5 million people – the largest ethnic minority population in the country. For many, the loss, anxiety or grief they experience when family members have fallen ill in recent weeks is making what was already a difficult year even worse, and just as Britain emerges from the crisis. lock and hope to crush the virus.

Harmeet Gill, 31, was born and raised in London, but his parents are from the northern Indian state of Punjab, and they remain extremely close with their extended family there.

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