Hope amid Despair

The hint emerging from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference on Thursday with state chief ministers is that the current three-week lock-down will be relaxed after April 14, but not wholesale. The controls could be lifted through stages, in a staggered manner, and this is understandable. At the same time, the government may also look at the possibility of freeing up areas selectively, from where no Covid-related infections have been reported so far, rather than shutting down the whole nation through a spur-of-the-moment decision.

India’s infection toll is relatively very low, in the range of 2000; and this, in a nation of 1.40 billion. Vulnerable areas are principally cities, where interactions are massive, and the present controls in cities must continue for the full term. Local authorities need to be given certain freedom to act, or liberalize the curbs, depending on the ground situations in what are reckoned as safe areas. This would free up the huge pressure on the nation caused by the total lockdown, even as this helped avoid community-level spread of the Corona virus. The US, despite massive death tolls has ordered lockdowns in a selective manner.

Where the government’s eye failed also needs a mention, as in the case of the large gathering at Nizamuddin right under the nose of the central government and its national security adviser. The Tablighi Jamaat congregation through weeks was held in the month of March, when the scare was already at a high and a large number of delegates and preachers from other countries had also arrived. Clearly, there were no controls in place and the organisers, now being singled out for blame, had been granted police permission to hold the event. In fact, Indian authorities woke up to the grim realities only after PM Modi’s announcement of a lockdown on March 24. Prevention is better than cure; and precaution was called for. On the positive side, the Jamaat is now fully cooperating with the authorities in identifying and isolating those who had attended the meet.

As the PM has stressed now, social distancing must continue to the extent that the virus spread is avoided even after April 14. The abrupt shutdown, continuing for the second week now, is bound to deal a heavy blow to national economy though its impact is a matter of conjecture. All segments of the society have already started feeling the pinch in multiple ways. The earlier the controls are lifted, the better.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.