‘Every Time I’m Calling, Someone Has Died’: The Anguish of India’s Diaspora

“I speak to my mom almost everyday,” said Ansh Sachdeva, 23, a student at Bolton University in northwest England. “But every time I’m cal...


“I speak to my mom almost everyday,” said Ansh Sachdeva, 23, a student at Bolton University in northwest England. “But every time I’m calling, someone has died. Someone has got Covid.”

He says that on the street in New Delhi where his parents live, no house has been untouched. He traveled home in November to help care for his parents and grandfather who had contracted the virus. But now he worries that they could fall ill again, and the new travel restrictions would make it impossible for him to get there.

In January, his mother had been the one worried about him returning to Britain, when a troubling second wave of the virus was taking hold there. “For them,” he said of the general perception in India earlier this year, “Covid was over.”

But it wasn’t over. Many Indians abroad watched with unease as the government allowed cricket matches in packed stadiums, mass election rallies and a major religious festival called Kumbh Mela, where millions gathered in one city. Meanwhile, case levels began to rise exponentially.

In Britain, home to a vibrant and diverse community of people with roots in India, the pain is palpable. In a neighborhood shop in Harrow, a community in London’s northwest with a large Indian population, two staffers recounted losing a brother in the last week.

The cultural ties between the two countries run deep, with Britain’s large Indian diaspora estimated to number over 1.5 million people — the single largest ethnic minority population in the country. For many, the loss, anxiety or grief they are experiencing as family members became ill in recent weeks are compounding what was already a difficult year, and just as Britain is emerging from lockdown and hopeful about crushing the virus.

Harmeet Gill, 31, was born and raised in London, but his parents are from India’s northern Punjab State, and they remain extremely close with extended family there.

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Newsrust - US Top News: ‘Every Time I’m Calling, Someone Has Died’: The Anguish of India’s Diaspora
‘Every Time I’m Calling, Someone Has Died’: The Anguish of India’s Diaspora
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