Tuesday, April 7, 2020
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India lockout for 21 days, necessary evil or ill-advised mis-adventure?

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The announcement of our Honourable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi about 21 day complete lockout of India to fight corona spread and further to ensure social distancing does not looks like necessary evil but only as an act of ill-advised mis-adventure by the government of India.  

State governments declaring lock out in the respective states is different from the stand taken by the central government. State government can afford to take such decision because the state has sufficient machinery (definitely in my state Tamil Nadu) to deal the situation and ensure no poor person; workers and small vendors and traders in the unorganized sector shall suffer. Our health and disease spreading measures however necessary they may be but must balance the ground reality and socio-economic aspects of the large section of people in India. By scaring people about some innocuously obvious facts about Corona is although necessary and inevitable but at the same time the preventive measures should not sink people to sorrow and suffering worse than real corona attack.

Demonetization, hopelessly implemented GST and now the Corona lock down are definitely going to break India’s poor and unorganized sector. Adequate sensitization and capability building measures at the village level should have been attempted first than going for lockdown for 21 days. The question is have we taken such measures against killer Malaria or Typhoid, eradicating mosquitos, addressing parasitic problems in children, eradicating malnutrition, infant mortality, maternity linked death, death due to starvation and poverty etc. The argument is not against taking measures to prevent the spread of Corona but the point is have we taken any such measures against all such disease that are still prevalent in India and killing thousands of people every year?

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Western style of health care approach or receiving applauds of WHO will not solve the problem of Corona in India and people’s complete co-operation is needed to make all such measures successful. People who are unwilling to co-operate do not really lacks intention but they are unable to do so because of their penurious situation. They have to work daily to meet at least one squire meal per day and how such people can draw a Lakshman Rekha and remain inside the line? How central government is going to reach welfare measures to all those poor traders, construction workers, street vendors, small traders, micro and small enterprises, manufacturing sector, street beggars who live on temple premises depending exclusively on temple prasad? 

We have to kill Corona, no doubt and the government of India and all state governments in India are very vigilant and committed in taking all measures to achieve the above goal but can we allow all such measures to kill the livelihood of poor people in the unorganized sector to kill Corona?  

America or European countries can afford to go for yearlong lockdown also because all such states are highly welfare states and their outreach mechanism is quite robust and time-tested. America is capable of completing class 10 and 12 exams online perfectly during the lockdown period without affecting the exam schedule despite state wide lockdown? Do we have such system in place? 

Intention of the author is not about criticising the earnest efforts of the government but to express the real concern at ground zero that aches and bleeds our mind and heart. 

Absolute and highly puritan or utopian wish or measures are good but they work only one a piece of paper and are not wise or implementable in a country like India. 

India has to be prepared stage by stage after addressing all larger concerns and issues and only then we should adopt American or European style. The applaud or appreciation of WHO may not live long and what shall live long is the agony and penury of our people and the corona lock down is going to cripple them further.

The lockdown of 21 days has pushed millions of Indians between devil and Dead Sea and in any case death of their livelihood is certain. People under such circumstances may dare, defy, adventure and defeat all prudent measures of the government. Although legally we can blame them but morally and ethically can we is the question we as fellow human being must ask with compassion and consideration.     

It would have been wise for the central government to leave the matter to the respective states to deal than central government going for all India lockouts for 21 days irrespective of the quantum of fame such measures may gifts to our country from world community or WHO.

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