Why no protest on price rise?
For the common man there is no respite. Prices of vegetables have shot up again with carrots selling at Rs 100 a kg and other vegetables selling at a premium simply because there are relaxations and more buyers. The prices of meat, especially beef and mutton have gone up exponentially. Yet we never hear a whimper of protest against price rise in Meghalaya. When petrol and diesel prices have just shot up it can be expected that the cost of transportation of goods too would go up. As it is the ordinary citizen is bearing the burden of loss of livelihoods due to Covid and now with price rise it can be expected that the nutritional status of the poor will go down even more and thereby reduce their immunity levels and consequently their ability to fight any infection.
It is seen that Meghalaya has always remained silent on price rise. It would appear as if the people of this State are all well off and can afford to shell out any amount for essential commodities. But perhaps the common person is too disempowered to protest. Normally, in other states the political parties come out on the streets to protest price rise. Pressure groups too are expected to raise their voices against the unprecedented price rise of essential commodities and of vegetables and meat but no such protest has ever been seen on the streets of Shillong. Pressure groups will only raise their voices against issues that will gain them political points. Talking about price rise is unlikely to win them votes since this is not a popular topic that will gain them air time on the local YouTube news channels that can make an instant star of someone and can also demonise someone.
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong is a good example of a politician who has been vulgarized by these web based/YouTube news channels. Today he has stopped speaking to the media after his faux-pas of advising people not to eat meat because it is unaffordable and to eat vegetables instead. Well, Mr Tynsong should be informed that vegetables too are no longer part of the poor man’s diet because their prices have shot up. What then does the poor person eat? Dal is too expensive, meat and fish are out of question, vegetables too are beyond most budgets. Milk is something that most people have left out of their diets a long time ago. Most people are left with rice and salt, potatoes and some dry fish. That’s all! What vitamins and nutrients would that diet contain? Do people in government ever ponder over the dilemma of the poor? No, they don’t because they don’t hear voices of protests against these core affordability issues that almost about 80% of the citizens of this state face on a daily basis. Where do we go from here?
Meghalaya & its ranking for doing business
In light of the ongoing struggles faced by business people due to the disruptions caused by the government’s response to COVID-19, it is worth reflecting on what can be done going forward. The Government of India in collaboration with the World Bank produces an index called the Ease of Doing Business ranking that measures progress across a range of measures like time taken to obtain a license, policy simplification and so on.
Meghalaya was ranked last, along with several other north-eastern states. What this means in practice is that Meghalaya is an extremely anti-business state that actively hampers employment growth through the creation of jobs and wealth. This is tragic. With its English-speaking population, it is a shame that this language ability – which would have allowed integration into the world economy – is not being utilised.
It is possible to turn the state around. The country of Georgia located at the eastern end of the Black Sea on the southern flanks of the Greater Caucasus Mountains experienced an average GDP growth rate of 10% per year between 2004 and 2007 after eliminating unnecessary regulations and legislations. It is now a modern economy that has significantly reduced poverty.
A good first step would be to eliminate all taxes except for the goods and services tax. The influx of migrants from other states seeking economic freedom should more than compensate for any lost government revenue, and in fact will likely increase revenue in the long run.
New South Wales,
Of Covid orphans
According to a new study published in The Lancet, an estimated 1.5 million children worldwide have experienced the death of a parent, custodial grandparent or other relative who cared for them due to COVID-19. Of these, more than 1 million children lost one or both parents during the first 14 months of the pandemic and another half a million lost a grandparent caregiver living in their own home.
Loss of a parent or caregiver has profound consequences for children. They are at the risk of profound adverse effects on their health, safety and wellbeing such as the risk of disease, physical abuse, sexual assaults and adolescent pregnancy. According to the researchers, there is an urgent need to take action to address the impact of caregiver deaths on children. It is distressing that for every two COVID-19 deaths worldwide, one child is left behind to face the death of a parent or caregiver. Hence there is an urgent need to prioritize these children and invest in programmes and services to protect and support them.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic there were an estimated 140 million orphaned children worldwide. The pandemic has caused more children to lose a parent or caregiver. Considering that a large number of grandparents provide care and financial support for their children, the loss of grandparents too adversely affect children. It is shocking to learn that every 12 seconds a child loses his caregiver to COVID-19.
The first three countries with the highest rate of children losing their caregiver are Peru, south Africa and Mexico. In April 2021, in India, there was an 8.5-fold increase in the numbers of children newly orphaned compared to March 2021. Children experiencing COVID-19 related deaths of parents or caregivers are at greater risk of separation from family and institutionalization. It adversely affects children’s social, physical and mental development. It is feared that if COVID-19 pandemic is not controlled, it could lead to the death of more parents and grandparents. Such experiences will profoundly damage children’s lives and personality. As children are future citizens of a country, it will adversely affect human resource development. Hence, such children must be identified and monitoring systems strengthened so that such children can be given the support they need to thrive.