EXTRAORDINARY TIMES – EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES

about 6 months ago
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The weekend has dawned upon us and with the world being where it is today, we have long days ahead. Looks like weekend and week days will all get meshed into one; at least till 31st March.

The commercial capital of India, Mumbai will be working from home, starting Monday. This is a great proactive step taken by the CM of the state. Coming close on the heels of the PM’s speech yesterday evening, though there is a sense of panic and anxiety, not knowing where this is headed, in some small corner of the heart you feel good to know that our leaders are probably taking the right steps – they are most certainly so much more better than Xi and Trump or sure!

Modi’s speech yesterday was good, driving home the importance of social distancing – his speech made this social distancing and curfew into a national movement, something which no leader in the world could do. For all those, especially the young who were taking this lightly, the curfew on Sunday is a good move. We are not over-reacting and we really hope and pray that our fears of this having already got into the stage-3, community spread, does not come true.

Modi in his speech spoke about his childhood and how he lived through the “war” days which resonated with many of us, having lived those days. But the idea of telling us this story was much deeper. He told us about “drill” practices during those days – the idea of narrating the story was exactly this; the lockdown of Sunday will be more like a drill practice and we could see more of these days ahead to contain the virus.

Most of us, middle and upper class can thump our chests and feel proud about the steps taken by our leaders but what about those living on the fringes? What happens to those, the daily wage earners who live a hand-to-mouth existence? We have millions of such people here; who feeds them? When work stops completely, where will their food come from – this is a huge crisis. Economic fallouts are huge but what about the people who are living life on the edge?

This is probably where India Inc, despite their bad times ahead, need to focus. America has soup kitchens and many parts in North India have langars. CSR money should now be spent on feeding these poor who will have no employment; unless their stomachs are not filled, we will be staring at a humanitarian crisis too. We too as a community of ordinary people can do extraordinary things – cooking and distributing food to the poor is the need of the hour.

Quarantine is a must – that’s undeniable. The Govt, as we have said time and again, needs to act quickly too on stimulus measures. Reducing taxes for individuals is probably the only thing required right now to restore the confidence.

The focus of the Govt has to necessarily be about increasing existing income support payments – this is only thing which will help all the gig actors and even those outside the regular wage sector. Giving cash handouts is an undesirable move but under the present circumstances, even universal handouts directly to households is a decision in the right direction.

The Covid-19 is teaching us all some very valuable life lessons which we have all forgotten; we need to inculcate these permanently but more importantly, it’s a wake-up call to the Indian Govt that we desperately need some major long term changes in policies.

PS: Currently the environment world over will be thanking the virus – it could do what so many summits and climate change activists could not do. So, breathe in the air and hope the cleaner air will calm the palpitating heart within. And Sunday at 5PM, don’t forget to make a din and thank all those who are working relentlessly, risking their lives to keep us all safe!

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