A TALE OF TWO INDIAS
THE WEEK|January 23, 2022
Two years of living with the virus have changed the way many Indians earn their livelihood
K. SUNIL THOMAS

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, it was the worst of times. The tale of two Mukeshs stands testament to that. The first one worked as a guard at one of the many highrise condominiums dotting Gurugram. The first outburst of Covid-19 in the spring of 2020 surprisingly did not affect him, as the residents’ association offered all guards extra allowance.

But it all got a bit too much for him after a few months. On top of the long working hours was the fear of infection. Then one fine day, his contractor let him go, citing budget cuts. Mukesh has been on temporary jobs since then, with frequent spots of joblessness in between.

The other Mukesh is a businessman in Mumbai, who spent much of the past two years sewing up business deals with global tech companies and pivoting his oil-to retail conglomerate to technology and renewable energy. He added ₹163 crore every day to his already immense wealth since the pandemic started.

“There were two distinct sides—one went down and the other went through the roof! There was no in-between really,” said celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, whose business interests range from restaurants and food channels to cookware and nutraceuticals. “So, it really depended on which side of the fence you were sitting.”

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