Post Mortem

Are Lockdowns really necessary?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/2/2020 1:33:24 PM IST

 There are so many theories, and so-called conspiracy theories about the 2019 coronavirus, and precautionary measures that need or need not be adopted. This includes the dreaded ‘Lockdown’, which is far more damaging than the virus itself. Somehow, one cannot help feeling like a pawn in the grander scheme of things. But that is a story for the future by the experts.

India’s massive lockdown in March, when just a handful of cases were detected, utterly failed to curb the spread of the virus. The simple reason was that the super brains of the country that advised the Government, failed to foresee the massive migrations that would take place across the country due to sudden loss of tens of millions of jobs and lack of shelter, food and water. This wave would eventually also be greatly responsible for the rapid spread of the virus through the length and breadth of the country. The first lockdown, and those subsequently, was the cause of much misery; it was indeed a curse for the lower strata of society, for no fault of theirs.

The wealthier class and the government employees who are assured of their salaries no matter what, are not affected at all, except for the freedom to move around as one would have wished. On the other hand, the weaker sections of society, probably more than 75% of India, were devastated by the impact of the harsh lockdowns. The common man is also at his wits end as far as health services across the country are concerned. Many private hospital owners in the larger cities and probably elsewhere are gleefully counting and hoarding their ill-gotten gains every day. And then we hear of atrocious GST rates on covid-19-related medical items, which the government insists is to keep the prices low. This production-distribution-tax economics is way beyond my grossly limited knowledge. Education has been badly hit as well. The wealthy, etc. again have nothing to lose with all facilities, and more at hand. Those hurt are the aam admi. Their children have nothing to gain, and everything to lose. The daily wage earners, the cultivators, farmers, etc. have lost everything. Some help from the government was visible during the early days; no one is sure how long this help will continue, if it is indeed continuing. What then?

Nagaland has come a long way since 20th March 2020. It has been one long series of total and partial lockdowns. We had lockdowns even when Nagaland was free of the virus. Then tragedy struck! Today, we are like any other state of India, with the virus spreading all over. One area gets sanitized and the virus pops up immediately in other areas, as in Kohima these days. The reasons are varied, but known to some extent by most.

My experience of Kohima town was one of horror every one of the six days I left home this lockdown to attend official meetings and banking, marketing, etc., all rolled in one. First, the administration issues strict instructions regarding the use of face masks but many people do not bother to adhere to rules and tragically, there is no one to ensure the rule of law. In many cases of those actually using a mask, it is a chin mask. For some others it is a mouth mask, the nose being left free to smell and snort its way around. Second, the public are warned to ensure social distancing, but who cares! Forget private institutions, even a public sector bank at Kohima (I visited one and left without any transaction after seeing the crowd jostling around) does not have the concept of ‘Social Distancing”. An attempt to walk through the alley on the side of Kohima Local Ground, between the Super Market complex and the NSF office one day gave me the covid-19 chills. The crowd of vendors along the path and the larger crowd of shoppers did not leave any breathing space in between. The only option was to take a detour through the town’s main street. Walking along this street too is highly hazardous. A really scary sight is the large crowds, like any normal day of the past, and without social distancing. Third, the Government insists that every commercial center or institution should have sanitizers, and water and soap for use of visiting public. 

(To be concluded...)

Prof. G.T. Thong, Lower Agri Colony, Kohima

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