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Some children have forgotten the alphabet or what their classrooms look like. Others have dropped out of school entirely, scrounging for work and unlikely to ever resume their studies.

For years, India has been counting on its vast pool of young people as a wellspring of future growth, a “demographic dividend,” as many liked to put it. Now, after two years of the coronavirus pandemic, it is looking more like a lost generation, crushing the middle-class dreams of families looking for better opportunities for their children.

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