- Lockdown on top of a lockdown
By: Nisar Ahmad Wani
Spring in Kashmir has its own and unique charm and elegance, because of its unique geographic position, and that’s what makes it stand apart from the rest of world. Spring comes breaking through the spell of a chilly, usually dull, winter and eventually infuses a new life into everything, particularly the plants and vegetation; besides the physical manifestations, it psychologically resonates the signs of hope and cheerfulness among children, the young and the old. With the beginning of this season, schools, colleges and universities are thrown open, students yet again get the chance to reunite for schooling and other co-curricular activities which generally stand adjourned during the winters. Trade and other activities get resumed more than normally, the usual hustle and bustle of markets start again, and principally it marks the commencement of the farmers’ season, while tourist’ throng into Kashmir from across the world to enjoy the scenic beauty of what is called paradise on earth.
Of all the seasons spring is the most important season of Kashmir particularly. It not only brings happiness but throws open the doors for numerous opportunities. Since the beginning of this year, plenty of snow and rain was on the cards and it eventually happened, and therefore, this spring was supposedly going to prove to be a most effective season. One would have anticipated a considerable increase in the production level of grains, orchards and so on. Unfortunately, this year spring broke out with darkness looming not only over Kashmir but virtually the entire world. The virus that emerged from China has taken the whole world hostage, and Kashmir too. No one, including Kashmiris, were ready or prepared to face this pandemic, particularly in this peak business and most cherished season. The covid-19 literally brought a halt to everything, it seems as if the time and world around has frozen, and in the context of Kashmir it devastated the whole natural timetable that people would usually follow.
The government must put restoration of high-speed internet on priority, so that students can attend their online classes without undue interruptions. All the saner voices around should keep the politics at bay as of now and focus on containing this pandemic. This virus must not be used as a political tool to suppress the people of Kashmir
In the backdrop of the developed nations having a mortality rate which seemed too high to be even tackled, Kashmir automatically stood nowhere in the race of tackling this contagion. Already Kashmir was moving only at snail’s pace in pulling itself out of the earlier state-enforced lockdown, with no virtual connectivity which still is in place, though now in a varied form, that this contagion hit us to put us again on the backfoot. The state is in total mess, people are living in the shadows of darkness in each and every aspect, the difficulties in the daily lives of people are exponentially increasing. The Almighty is the last hope to bank on.
The health department of the state was not ready for such a lethal contagion, firstly because there is dearth of knowledge in this field and secondly absence of modern technology with 2g internet service at place. Even without the pandemic, normally healthcare facilities are insufficient to meet the slight crises that emerge. We are lacking at well-equipped instruments, highly scientific labs, ventilators etc. the doctors in Kashmir had forewarned that there is not much in stock which wouls let them protect the people, there is even a shortage of basic equipments like masks, gloves, PPE kits, sanitizers and such like.
The government didn’t act swiftly and wisely because when covid-19 was spreading all over the world, the government of the day was busy enforcing laws, organizing summits and eventually passed it off without paying much heed. Despite knowing how contagious this virus can be, yet it did not restore the high-speed internet at healthcare centres for doctors at least, for possibly if they would have understood via internet the lethality of this virus, they might have geared themselves up with early preparedness. In Kashmir, for any sort of negligence, doctors are not to be blamed, but the administration of the day only.
Besides healthcare facilities our economy too was subjected to follow the same pressures. Kashmir is someway is agriculturally dependent, and due to coronavirus this sector has been the worst hi. We don’t have modern techniques, infrastructure, management, technologies and tools to store our goods with which our resources would be prevented from getting deteriorated and would save our economy from sliding even deeper.
Kashmir, famous for its scenic beauty, attracts the tourist. Tourism, which is really the backbone of our economy, is also badly affected. Every year Kashmir’s tourists spend a lot of money on the gardens were flowers in abundance are blooming. But this year the flowers will bloom without witnessing tourists which also poses a great threat to our economy.
Our education sector is already in ruins particularly after the centre robbed Kashmir of its semi-autonomy, which resulted in a lockdown in which students were worst hit, who couldn’t join schools for half a year.
All in all, from education to economic sector, Kashmir is the worst hit of all, only some divine help is pumping in some fuel for Kashmir to run.
If the government is really concerned about helping Kashmiris on humanitarian grounds, they must put restoration of high-speed internet on priority, so that students can attend their online classes without undue interruptions. Moreover, it will also help Kashmiris to keep trace of happenings around the world vis-à-vis the coronavirus, and that can also subsequently help doctors to take advantage from the work and findings of foreign scientists. All the saner voices around should keep the politics at bay as of now and focus on containing this pandemic. This virus must not be used as a political tool to suppress the people of Kashmir.
The writer studies at Aligarh Muslim University, and can be reached at [email protected]