Tag Archives: Covid-19

The Hawkers Dilemma in India

New Orleans     India has now edged up to 2nd or 3rd behind the United States in the number of coronavirus cases.  With over a billion population, teeming cities with overcrowded slums, and tens of millions without access to sanitation facilities, a cough can be a healthcare crisis. Talking to ACORN India’s organizing team on WhatsApp was not reassuring.

A curfew continues in Bengaluru.  There is no public transportation in Mumbai.  The government in Delhi is still giving us dry rations to distribute at our migrant centers in the city. Informal workers who depend on a daily wage to eat and survive have retreated to rural, family homes, but find no work there.  Domestic workers are not allowed to enter the housing estates where many of them both lived and worked, leaving some middle-class families having to fend with cooking and cleaning themselves for the first time.

ACORN has tens of thousands of members who are hawkers, especially in Bengaluru, Chennai, and Delhi.  Markets are closed where they plied their trade providing fruit and vegetables to daily shoppers.  The organizers report that hawkers able to be mobile on the street are able to make it, but only if they have a cart and can keep moving.  They depend on their work for food, and others depend on the food they provide to survive as well.

The government has announced a program to help hawkers get back on their feet as the pandemic subsides.  Applicants are eligible until 2022, if it takes that long.  Essentially 10,000 rupees would be provided for them to reestablish, so that they can make the purchases for resell.  10,000 rupees is the equivalent of $133 USD.

Importantly, the government, recognizing the reality of informal work, allowed hawkers to be eligible, even if not licensed by their local municipalities.  Instead, in a nod to hawkers’ unions, the government’s first proposal asked them to mark one of three national hawkers’ unions where they might be a member in order to vouch for their status as hawkers.  This would have been devastating to our ACORN union membership, because it would in effect be forcing hawkers to join one of the three named unions on the original proposal in order to access the funds.  We mobilized quickly, as we heard about the application process, and in a significant win, convinced the government instead to simply allow hawkers to list their union affiliation in a blank spot on the form.

Good for the hawkers and good for our union.  Unfortunately, as our call ended, that small victory was about the only good news coming out of India in these desperate times.


The Anarchist’s Guide to Surviving Coronavirus Covid-19

New Orleans      How about some advice for handling the pandemic from a different source than the daily news, doomscrolling, or even the embattled Dr. Fauci?  I forget how I stumbled onto this, but I’ve been carrying around a copy for months of the Anarchist’s Guide written by the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, made available in mid-February 2020.  The collective is named after a legendary plague cure and was founded by a mathematician in 2015.  The collective lacks medical professionals and has been criticized by some for its biohacking advice, so don’t try this at home without more research, and take it with a grain of salt, quite literally, but, what the heck, if it keeps you out of the hospital, it might be worth a shot.

Some of their advice is standard fare, like “sterilize your disgusting cell phone” and “wash you paws.”  The guide though is interesting when it comes to things like how to care for someone who might be infected and needs to be hydrated.

Here are their tips for “easy ways to make oral rehydration fluids which are better than Gatorade or coconut water:”

The idea is to take clean water and add some balancing salts to make it easier for the person to retain the water.  Try to get them to take small sips very often, as this is the most efficient way to get fluids into someone short of an IV.

Get distilled water, sugar or honey, salt, and baking soda, and, if you want to make it a little more palatable, a little coconut water, orange juice, or mashed up ripe banana.

IV in a Glass

  • 1 liter of bottled water
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey
  • Optional:1 cup coconut water/fruit juice/ripe fruit puree

Start by adding the salt, but make sure you didn’t overdo it.  It shouldn’t be saltier than tears.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.

Three teaspoons equal one tablespoon, if you have one or the other.

If you are working gallons (which are roughly quadruple liters), just quadruple everything.

These are rough measurements, so don’t worry too much.  Just make sure it’s not too salty before you add the rest.

Call me crazy, but I found that helpful.  I’m not sure that I’m going to do it, even though I know people well who have a hydration problem on these hot, humid summer days, but I just might.  I certainly don’t see any harm to it, and it might help.  It’s not like the Four Thieves Collective is advising you take a malaria pill or a shot of bleach, so we’re on much stronger ground here.

Just saying.  Just sharing.