Road Ashram, documenting pandemic crisis on wheels


A three-member team documenting the impact of the COVID-19 crisis across the country spent a day in Kochi on Saturday, meeting with people here to understand how the pandemic was handled.

The team – Siddhartha Dutta who has raised funds for various international organizations, communications specialist Ahmer Siddiqui and Neha Chaturvedi who documents the journey and their interactions – travel the country’s borders to assess the humanitarian crisis caused by the pandemic. They spent a day in Thiruvananthapuram, where they met filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, before arriving in Kochi.

“Having traveled through 15 states so far, people have told us that governments are proactive in Kerala, West Bengal, and the northeastern states. The people of Kerala told us that the government’s preparation here was good and that they had received a lot of support to deal with the crisis, ”Mr. Dutta said. Mr Dutta and Mr Siddiqui are funding the trip, which started in Delhi on October 4 and could end on December 15. Their car, covered in stickers, and the trip are called Road Ashram.

Here they met artist and writer Bony Thomas who told them about his experiences of feeling helpless during the lockdown and how the state approached the crisis. Mr Thomas said it was important to document how different states handled the pandemic, as experiences would have been significantly different across the country. They also met people who fought against the LPG Puthuvype terminal.

The team is also looking to raise relief funds that will go directly to Rise Against Hunger India, an NGO. Among other things, they met migrant workers who marched from Mumbai to Uttar Pradesh during the lockdown and observed delays in vaccination.

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