Fourteen-year-old Priti Pyne was returning from school in Basra village in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, when she and a friend came across a cold-drink seller selling an attractive-looking drink. The moment the girls sipped it, however, they felt dizzy. When they woke up, it was on a Delhi-bound train at Sealdah station in Kolkata. With the help of other passengers, the girls managed to get off the train.
Even as erratic weather and extremely high temperatures increase pest infestation and affect harvests, a combination of traditional methods, integrated pest management through intercropping and multilayering is helping farmers in Ahmednagar and Aurangabad districts of Maharashtra, India.
One day, while the rest of his family were out at work, Kamlesh Pravasi from Jigarsandih village in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh was “abducted when I returned home one day from school, by a contractor’s goons,” he told IPS. The then 12-year-old Pravasi, who was in the sixth grade, was forced to work in bonded labour in a brick kiln because his father could not repay a Rs 5,000 ($68) loan he had taken out from the contractor in order to pay for medical treatment for Pravasi’s sick brother.
One of the worst fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the closure of industries in India, which caused thousands of migrant labourers to return home to villages in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. In a region where the poorest have always been subjected to bonded labour, child labour and slave trafficking, it has meant revisiting the past.