Corona time: the great disastrous in our generation

রবিবার, এপ্রিল ৫, ২০২০ ৬:০৫ PM | বিভাগ : English

What is happening around us! After a spike in COVID-19 cases, India has put in place strict restrictions on inbound travel. The WHO has declared it a Pandemic after millions of confirmed cases and almost over fifty thousand deaths in 114 countries.

India has confirmed 100 coronavirus causes deaths as on today 5th april, 2020. India has suspended all existing visas except diplomatic, official, international organizations, project visas until 15th april, 2020.

1st phase lockdown of 21 days is continuing up to 14th april, 2020. We have been asked by the government to maintain social distances. Shops except of groceries, vegetables, fishes, meats, medicines are closed. Transport services except essential goods carriers have been stopped. Most of the branches of the banks are shut. Schools, Colleges, Universities are all closed. Examinations have been postponed. Daily wagers have no work as we all have been sent in lockdown phase. As of now, it is okay, but we really don’t know what is waiting ahead if the lockdown continues one or two months more. We really don’t know what is going to happen if the lockdown is removed. Following China, America, Hong Kong – India is not going to do the same mistake removing the lockdown. Because the pandemic can make India disastrous. Lives of 130 crore people are standing before a big question mark that how they’ll survive this corona time.

How shall middle class make their everyday lives without money, foods and essentials after few days? Poor are being offered by rich and various government schemes. But for middle class, those who secure their necessities of life by their daily or monthly hard earned incomes are not being offered the minimum to continue their family in that crisis time.

If saving human lives is the overarching objective, it is worth asking ourselves this question “could the lockdown, which is essential, be organised better to minimise or eliminate the loss of lives from the negative consequences of the pandemic management measures?” Also, while some adverse effects may not have easy solutions, it is still imperative that we identify them.

There are stories about the immense hardships faced by migrant workers, daily wagers, health workers, and people with disabilities. There are accounts of how the new norm of “social distancing” is not being seen for what it is, which is physical distancing, but is seen as a license for glorifying the demeaning and despicable, not to mention illegal, practice of untouchability towards castes that were stigmatised for doing the most menial jobs nobody else wanted to do.

We the students don’t yet know when everything will be normal as it was before. We are also struggling each day to find the exact strategy to prepare ourselves for the examination because the commission yet to finalize the dates of postponed exams. They even don’t know whether it will be possible to take examination in near future.

The one section of the population that is painfully, but sadly not surprisingly, absent from this discussion of negative consequences – whether unintended or foreseen but inevitable – of the anti-pandemic measures has been women. Painfully, because the negative consequences of pandemic control measures on women are wide and deep. Unsurprisingly because this is yet another instance of a gender-blind policy that ignores its disproportionate impact on women.

While gender has been absent from the official lens everywhere, the last week has seen a few –although far fewer than warranted – pieces about the impact of pandemic management measures on women.

The most horrific and obvious impact of the lockdown imposed to flatten the curve has been a rise in domestic and intimate partner violence as has been noted for the United States, the United Kingdom, and China, among other countries. A rise in domestic violence literally increases the risk to women’s lives as one curve gets flattened, the other one slopes upwards, perhaps not exponentially, but sharply, nevertheless.

The accounts are painful to read in many rural areas in India. Women are being battered by frustrated partners and being threatened to be kicked out of the house if they fell sick. With schools and workplaces shut, women and girls in abusive situations have no respite.

Suddenly our lives, our lifestyles have changed. We don’t know whether we’ll stay alive tomorrow or not. The time has taken us to a great disastrous in our generation.

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Soumyajit Dutta

Blogger, researcher student and lecturer in ISI.