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The decimation of India’s small hotels

Earlier this year Relia, who is the vice-president of the Surat Hotels and Restaurant Association (SHARA), thought that he had weathered the covid-19 pandemic too. His 35-year-old family-run business had so far thrived because of the frequent business trips by small business owners, diamond merchants and traders to Surat, but in recent months, things had changed. Business had crippled, but somehow Relia was able to tide over the harsh conditions.

Then, the second wave of the pandemic arrived in the spring of 2021. Relia isn’t sure if history is a reliable guide anymore. He has been on the lookout to sell one of his properties, which has been badly hit due to repeated lockdowns. “In the first wave, we exhausted our savings and did not have the cash reserves to absorb the shock that came with the second wave of covid. Second wave ne hamari kamar tod di (the second wave has broken our back),” said Relia.

Surat, known for its diamond-cutting and…

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