‘First Covid Hit, Then Bulldozer’: Tea-Seller’s Death Note On Money Crisis

'First Covid Hit, Then Bulldozer': Tea-Seller's Death Note On Money Crisis

Kalu Rai, 55, was found hanging from a tree at the same spot where he sold tea


Kalu Rai, 55, sold tea on a cart at an intersection in Madhya Pradesh’s Jaisinagar. Last night, he was found hanging from a tree at the same spot where he brewed tea daily.

A note in the pocket of his trousers recounted the crushing financial crisis that had driven him to the extreme step. In the note, Rai wrote that he ran a tea shop that shut down after the Covid pandemic struck, plunging him into a financial crisis. As restrictions were lifted, he opened the shop again, but before business could pick up, his shop was razed as part of an anti-encroachment exercise.

He tried to make ends meet by running a tea stall from a cart, but failed. Rai wrote that as the debt burden kept growing, he could not take it anymore. “Nobody is listening. What do I do? There is only one way: suicide,” he wrote.

The 55-year-old was father to a son and three daughters. The son helped him at the tea stall.

The devastating impact of the pandemic and related restrictions on low income groups has been illustrated in several studies.

A World Bank report released last year suggested that 71 million people globally may have been pushed into extreme poverty due to the pandemic in 2020. Out of these, nearly 79% were from India, the report titled “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2022” found.

The report stated that the most populous countries were the biggest contributor to the increase in global poverty.

However, it highlighted that China, despite being the world’s most populated country, did not contribute much to the global poverty increase. On the other hand, the report said, India witnessed a “pronounced economic contraction”.

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