- Life won’t return to normal afterwards
BY: SADAF AIJAZ
India is facing its biggest health emergency since the country gained Independence in 1947 ,A 21-day lockdown in India was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March 2020 in the wake of the novel coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak.
By the time Mr Modi announced the lockdown, India has officially counted about 590 cases of coronavirus infection and about 10 deaths. India reported its first coronavirus case on Januaray 30 but till date the number of infection has climbed rapidly.
According to the latest report by the ICMR. The total number of positive cases till Tuesday afternoon are 4858, 382 recovered with 136 deaths across India.
What is really worrying is the huge migration that has started across the country as Mr Modi gave four days to the people to prepare for Janta Curfew and only four hours to millions of people, especially to poor migrants, for complete lockdown ,and this four hour deadline to reach their native places or homes created panic among people and everybody became tense because of this .It seems that the Modi government has yet again turned the fight against the coronavirus into a mess of epic proportions. The lockdown should have been done in a phased manner as you can’t give only four hours to lock down the second most populous country in the world, It’s not easy .It means that the government was not aware of the facts, of how this could create chaos and confusion among the people, particularly the poor people of Indian society.
Presently, the situation in many states of India is nothing short of a famine. The poor and unprivileged across India are of the view that “Hunger will kill us before the coronavirus does”. The sudden call for a lockdown has affected people, especially the poorer section of society. No country has rushed into a complete three-week-long lockdown to stop the disease, definitely not like India.
A lockdown call without preparation has caused problem for millions of people, and the Government should not think that the problem will not go away if any old religious serial is broadcasted on TV, They should think about what next? Until we get a vaccine, the virus won’t disappear. If the vaccine is developed, it will take at least a few months to vaccinate every Indian
Modi being the Prime Minister of the India and knowing that half of his country’s population is poor , should have had an idea that poor people would suffer from his sudden lockdown call. He should have given them at least a day or arranged some way so that the people could reach safe places or destinations, but It is quite surprising that his government has no idea how it was going to affect people and I will not hesitate in saying that Modi’s poorly planned lockdown would kill more because of hunger.
Not everybody is as lucky as us, and there are people who don’t have food to eat or shelter to live. The Internet is flooded with the videos and pictures of people complaining about shortage of food, medicines and other basic things for survival. Further heart-wrenching photos were circulated on the social media where, because of the sudden lockdown, groups of daily wage workers at many places were seen walking to their homes, hundreds of kilometres away, on foot. An estimated 120 million of India’s 650 million workforce are migrant workers .Millions of them are now on the move on foot to reach their homes. They risk spreading Covid-19 to rural India in addition to the risk of contracting the disease themselves They also run the risk of going hungry.
The situation in India seems to be worsening with each passing day. It’s been nine to 10 days, and people are running out of food and other necessary things to survive as they stare at a bleak future and what will happen to them in next four or five days.
When Prime Minister Modi announced a three-week complete lockdown, I was expecting that his speech might contain some elements of what Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand PM, said in her speech announcing her country’s lockdown. In her speech she told her citizens that doctors, supermarkets, and access to essential banking services would be available throughout New Zealand , and if you didn’t have immediate needs do not go to the supermarket, and that she would be there for your today, tomorrow and day after that. On the other hand Mr Modi’s speech contained no concrete measures other than expressing his concern for their fight. He should have, but did not, offer some specific details on how the poor, especially daily wage workers, would be provided for in the 21 days.
A national curfew for 21 days will definitely go a long way in reducing the transmission of the deadly virus, but what happens after? A lockdown call without preparation has caused problem for millions of people, and the Government should not think that the problem will not go away if any old religious serial is broadcasted on TV, They should think about what next? Until we get a vaccine, the virus won’t disappear, If the vaccine is developed, it will take at least a few months to vaccinate every Indian. So what will happen to those poor daily wage workers after 21 days? Had Modi and his Government thought about it, with each passing day the situation in India is worsening, per day near about 10 to 12 positive cases of Coronavirus are identified and It will take time to get things back on track. It doesn’t seem that life will be normal after 21 Days. After analysis of the situation, I think that Modi’s National Curfew could starve Indians to death and not even save the country from the coronavirus.
The writer is a journalist based in Srinagar