LOCKDOWN EXTENSION: A ‘TIGHT SPOT’ FOR THE ORDINARY CITIZEN

Rifa Deka

The outbreak of coronavirus has killed 149 people and affected over 5000 lives so far in India, bringing life to a standstill. We’re all being hinted of a possible extension of the 21 day nationwide lockdown. Heads of states are also requesting the Centre to reconsider an extension of the lockdown period and people themselves are coming forward and requesting state governments to enforce an extended partial shutdown at the least.

We are all aware that the government and authorities are concerned about how a country 1.3 billion large will be able to deal with this pandemic if the numbers continue to rise the way they are currently rising and an extended lockdown period is what seems to be the right thing to do, but here is a list of some of our problems that we would want to be solved first.

  1. Some of us are daily wage earners, if we do not go out and work every single day, our family will not get to see food on their plates while some of us are small business owners who cannot pay rent or salaries to our workers unless we generate some revenue ourselves.
  2. Some of us are pregnant women, women with infants that need regular check-ups, patients sick with other illnesses, senior citizens and are not able to visit hospitals for regular check-ups due to unavailability of transportation.
  3. For some of us, our only source of income is through the rent that we receive from our property, if we don’t collect rent from our tenants, then how will we run our households?
  4. Some of us had left town for some important work and are now stuck in an unknown city, away from our families and the comfort of our homes while some of us have abusive family members and we’re locked inside with them, with nowhere to go.
  5. Some of us are students of final year and are supposed to be passing out of University in about two months, our families look up to us as future bread earners. Some of us even have educational loans to repay and some of us will be the earning members in our family. Will the extension of this lockdown, not affect our studies? Will it not affect our employment opportunities?
  6. Some of us are grocery vendors; facing logistical challenges, the government keeps asserting that there is no shortage of food supply but we are running out of stock of essential commodities (or at least that’s what we tell our customers).
  7. Some of us are in urgent requirement of another LPG cylinder and we cannot get one till the lockdown ends because gas agencies have asked us to wait till the lockdown period gets over.
  8. Some of us are old and need domestic help, but our domestic helpers cannot come help us even if they want to, because they are afraid of getting beaten up by the police.
  9. Some of us live hand to mouth and we cannot bear the rising cost of commodities and services as we live in constant fear of what will happen once our limited stores of money get exhausted.
  10. Some of us have pets and these pets are animals that eat meat; humans can live without maas maanxo (fish, meat),but what about animals that feed on meat? Till when do we keep feeding our dogs vegetables? It has come to this that they now refuse to eat at all!

These are just a small portion of the problems that we’re facing and I’m sure there are many more yet to be discussed. We’re also aware that the extension of this curfew appears to be the only sensible decision at the moment, but if you ask a migrant daily wage labourer, I’m sure he’ll tell you that he’d rather die of coronavirus himself, than letting his entire family die of hunger.