Post Mortem

Chain reaction as COVID-19 hits

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/23/2020 12:59:12 PM IST

 In the last four months the most affected of COVID-19 are undoubtedly the poor and the vulnerable. They account for the highest percent amongst others in terms of death, infected, job losses, susceptibility, and host of others. Within this bracket those who come under—communities and sectors of diverse contributors to the economy in the fields of judiciary—lawyers, education—teachers, and—domestic helpers, but they do face the brunt of coronavirus in unprecedented ways. It has altered drastically their livelihood to alarming proportions. 

Those who represent and fall into these segments have been contributing immensely to the society such as GDP and others as well. As we live in a world of volatility—there have been number of twists and turns due to COVID-19 and in that huge number of lawyers live by taking cases as each day unfolds and take up cases of those who live in vulnerable segments. In this segment around 20 lakh advocates who are mostly dependent on open court adjudication of disputes and so advocates are asking when physical hearing of cases in courts will start. 

Lawyers known for charging on hourly basis lakhs of rupees—representing big businesses,  corporations, governments and those having powerful connection have no problems. But young, not so famous and moderately successful lawyers whose earnings plummeted due to the lockdown as the trial courts, high courts and Supreme Court have switched over to virtual hearings. As of now they have started hearing limited cases through video conferencing leaving most lawyers in the lurch. Even their clients find the present mode more cumbersome.

However, it should be recollected that in Bengaluru and other parts this segment enabled many migrants to travel back as they are in horrifying situation and so not knowing what to do. The concerned lawyers helped them to set their travel plans. As their jobs have been hit so badly to tide over the situation they have taken up petty jobs and many others live in desperate conditions. This segment is also so vulnerable like others. Lockdown has triggered chain reactions on all the vulnerable sections—legal, teaching and house helping professions. 

Moving to education sector, a series of reactions such as students dropped out, schools have gone on sale, and teachers now do odds jobs. Following job losses, closure of small businesses and migration, many parents across the country have withdrawn children from schools. A report by Save the Children estimated that school closures have impacted 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary education, and 28 million children attending pre-school in anganwadi centres. This has escalated the education sector into an unprecedented cascading crisis. 

With no fees, budget schools—where nearly half the country’s children study are either shutting down or face closure in the near future, putting teachers and allied staff, including helpers, drivers and others, out of jobs.  India has nearly 4, 00,000 unaided private schools, with more than 7.9 crore students enrolled. Since the migrants have gone back as part of reverse migration this problem is looming more acute. The children, who were studying in private schools, are now out of school or are seeking admission in government schools.

According to platforms that help in buying and selling of schools, the number of schools on sale in Karnataka is on the rise. Till the end of June it had received 534 pre-schools trying to sell their ventures. With schools closing, teachers have been pushed to survive. Telangana Private Teachers Forum President Shabbir Ali says that of the 2.5 lakh teachers in the state, 40 per cent have not received any salaries since March, while 60 per cent have been paid partial amounts and so many teachers are forced to sell tea, fruits and do manual labor to feed their families.

More such stories emerge. One such moving story is in Mysuru, 12 teachers were forced to go door-to-door selling noodles. The school failed to pay full salaries for three months as it could not collect almost Rs. 3 lakh in pending fees. The management decided to support its teachers by supplying noodles. In another episode Yogesh Kumar, a teacher from Amritsar has not got his salary for the last four months and so started taking online tuitions; helping his brother in his business while his wife has starting taking yoga classes in the locality. These stories that come to light show the miseries of teaching community—to be revered now is in the state of gloom. 

Given the severity and intensity of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths Bangaloreans by and large have terminated the services of the domestic helps not to report for work as they feared the risk of infection would spread/contaminate. About 3 lakh domestic helps across the state are now suffering without jobs and steady incomes. Sanjaynagar-based Maheshwari, 45 was in tears after one of her employers asked her not to come until the situation got better. It’s the fourth house that terminated her services.

From the month of March to the present she works in just one residence Her monthly income has plunged from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 3000. She has to pay Rs. 4000 rent every month and also feed a family of four. She is perplexed and says, “I don’t know how long this will continue and how I can manage.” A CITU report says about 1.5 lakh domestic helps lost their jobs in Bengaluru and in the state of Karnataka it is about 3 lakh whereas the Karnataka Welfare Board projects that the State of Karnataka has around 6 lakh domestic helps including 2 lakh in Bengaluru..  

The State has failed to look into the problems of lawyers, teachers and domestic helpers and taken them for granted. All these sectoral-level occupations are important which the agencies of the respective governments take for granted.  If anything goes wrong in one sector it automatically spills over to others resulting in chain reactions.  The scenario is bleak and at the same time warrants attention.

Dr. John Mohan Razu 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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