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Lockdown 5 – Still no respite to the common man’s plight

The lockdown is going to extend further for 5th time, people have already gone hopeless and clueless, and no one knows where to go from here. The government did not bother about its impact on common man, migrant workers and daily wagers. Ironically on one hand all the MPs and MLA’s got a hike in their salaries amid these crises in spite of holding all riches and hardly doing anything for the people at large. On the other hand, the commoners are fighting for one meal and survival but the government turned its back by being a mute spectator. The Centre declared the lockdown and imposed other harsh measures without consulting any of the State governments. Just like announcing demonetization, without any clue and survival support, people were thrown out to battle various challenges. Many lost their lives then and many continue losing their lives even today. The anarchy and confusion were foreseeable. No one knows what this government is up to and what this Prime Minister is actually doing? Cores of funds raised to battle the crises, people with large heart rendered donations, cores of rupees were taken as loan from banks in the name of COVID crises and economic revival, but nothing has changed on the ground and no solutions have reached to grass root level. The common man is dying not only with coronavirus but also lockdown-induced sufferings.

Unfortunate migrant laborers had nowhere to go, nothing to eat and none to look to for any help. The lockdown reminds one of this government’s colossal failures such as demonetization and flawed GST implementation. With India already grappling with an economic slowdown and job losses, COVID-19 has struck at the most unfortunate time and the inept insensitive handling by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government has only worsened the situation. As always, the downtrodden sections of the society have had to bear the brunt of it and suffer the worst time in their lives. Doctors, nurses, health workers and police personnel too have had to suffer a lot since the country was not prepared for this tragedy. After the lockdown, it will take months to get the workforce back, and streamline the machinery. There will also be a rush to complete pending projects. Migrants have completely lost faith; they became hopeless and shattered. Asking them to resume is another catastrophe because of the lack of basic humane treatment; they are so scared of present circumstances.

Likewise, in the extreme scenarios now painted, there seems to be no hope for many businesses like media houses, travel and hospitality segments. They will be unfortunately annihilated with job losses, bankruptcies and shutdowns. There are tens of thousands of people stranded across the globe, home or away, at their origins or midway. There will also be untold thousands who would now wish to visit their family after not having been able to be with them in times of deep uncertainty. People may be afraid of travel, but they may also want to move, as if freed from a prison. Post-lockdown, the sales of air tickets may zoom, as may their prices; the related spike in demand may shore up the hospitality sector too. The situation in agriculture is more intricate. The overall amount of work that needs to be done is, roughly speaking; constant within a short time frame but this is a dynamic and mobile field of employment that faces unique bottlenecks now.

At this juncture, the government may show any maturity, but people are wise enough to understand the intent. The farmers who are felt cheated are now not in a position to take the given opportunity of free-flow as they have lost faith in the government policies and indifferent approach to the serious requirements and contribution of the farming sector. As their work is dependent on the seasons and nature’s timings, it’s very critical certain farming activities are done at the right time to reap any fruitful result. Right now, they know that there is no point as even if they slog in farms, there would be more surprises and added challenges until the crop matures. Farming has become a very complex issue as the lockdown has destroyed tons of fresh produce as it was left to rot due to a lack of harvesting labour permissions.

Many prominent media houses have sanctioned layoffs or mandatory leave without pay. While The Indian Express and Business Standard newspapers have announced pay cuts, others are also taking steps to curb costs. On April 10, 15 employees of News Nation, a Hindi news national channel were asked to leave with immediate effect. On April 13, the digital news website ‘The Quint’ asked about 45 employees to go on indefinite leave without pay. The organization faced “a truly unprecedented situation” in these circumstances, it is clear that our revenues will be under severe strain over the next 3-4 months. Times Life, the Sunday supplement of the Times of India has also asked its employees to leave on April 13. Travel restrictions, including in India are paralyzing the hospitality sector too. The coronavirus scare has crippled the sector completely. In March, India’s merchandise exports shrunk by a record 34.6% while imports declined 28.7% as countries sealed their borders to combat the virus. Like the hospitality industry, the export sector too is demanding the government to intervene to save it from the massive crisis. Over 1.5 crore people in India could lose their jobs in the wake of gloomy global trade trends due to Covid-19, predicted the industry body. The sectors that are heavily dependent on exports are apparel, gems, jeweller, handicrafts, engineering among others. The apparel export sector alone estimates 2.5-3 million job losses because of order cancellations.

The unemployment tracker survey released by Centre for the Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE), the only data source of its kind that reports unemployment on a daily, monthly, and quarterly basis. The national coffers seem to get empty by the day but still no respite to the common man plight, as there are no legitimate signs of an economic revival put into action on the ground level. Shallow promises of care cannot be the only solution, as the ground reality of most Indian’s sadly begs to differ.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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