Barely a week into the New Year, the Capital is turning into a ghost town once again with the City government imposing a weekend curfew in view of the rising cases of Covid’s new variant. The measures initiated by the administration effectively mean that most establishments barring those dealing with essential services would remain shut and the livelihood of a large number of people, particularly the daily wagers would be impacted once again.
In other words, the economy would be severely hit by the new guidelines which have been ordered to ensure that maximum number of people remain indoors and do not come out on to the streets or market places to reduce the possibility of the infection spreading. What the guidelines do not stipulate is that there are large numbers of homeless people who also stay in the city and if they have the means or the capacity to spend the cold winters in a night shelter, set up by the government, how would they feed themselves. The Prime Minister while speaking about the latest threat from this new variant of the pandemic had also stated that there should be no element of fear that should be generated and all efforts to get maximum number of people vaccinated should be made. The State and central government have since then, commenced a drive to vaccinate the younger population and this enormous task shall obviously take some time.
The Covid fear is a reality and has also gripped almost all western countries which have also intensified their efforts to check the disease from spreading. However, unlike the West where those who are laid off from work get a monthly or weekly allowance from the government, in a poor country like ours, this kind of assistance is not possible. Therefore, those who have been laid off or whose wages have been reduced have to fend for themselves and their families in these difficult times. It is by no means a suggestion that people should stop wearing masks or stop maintaining social distance or taking precautions which are prescribed and are essential. However, simultaneously, the government has to also prepare a plan to ensure that the lockdowns and curfews do not result in situations where loss of livelihood could lead to loss of lives as well. The Delhi government has curtailed the functioning of offices, schools, cinema hall and many other establishments in a bid to check the rising cases. What remains baffling is that a cent percent occupation of buses and metro has been permitted. Equally unexplainable issue, which is more for optics, is that at some metro stations, even the fully vaccinated people are being compelled to take the RTPCR tests. There needs to be greater transparency when the government or the state administration puts out the daily number of cases.
There are those who doubt the testing methods that are deployed and others who always raise questions regarding any data furnished by official agencies. What needs to be also explained is that while political rallies are permitted, why are there curbs on people elsewhere. The post Covid life has changed everyone’s daily routine but there is no clarity as to what should be done in the future. The Vaccines are not an antidote for the pandemic even though it is essential to take them. There have been charges that the entire Covid phobia is the creation of the powerful pharmaceutical lobby which gets to benefit and has made billions of dollars without finding a cure for the affliction. Doctors who are specialists in their respective fields but have little to do with Covid solutions are on various television channels talking so passionately about the various variants. The people have to fight the threat from Covid unitedly but the governments should also come out with a concrete plan to ensure that some sort of assistance is provided to those who have lost their livelihood. These two things have to go hand in hand.