The reality of India's 3 weeks long lockdown
Just yesterday, the Prime Minister of India, Narender Modi, announced a 3 weeks long, country-wide complete lockdown. This piece of writing will talk about this lockdown from the perspective of someone living in New Delhi, the country's capital.
Let's first talk about the decision itself, it is extremely bold to completely lockdown the country for three whole weeks. Why? Because the population of India is about 1.3 billion, second most populous nation. There is more, the majority of the country thrives on daily wages, as opposed to monthly wages. They have no security for the future so for them, this lockdown means they have to somehow survive without earning a single rupee. Which is of course impossible. Unless... Yes, the government aids them.
Unfortunately, the central government is yet to announce any sort of relief for them. However, some state governments have already announced support for these daily wagers. The Delhi government will be sending ₹5000 (about $65) to all daily wagers in the city. Not only that, free food will be given to everyone in need of it. Similarly, the Uttar Pradesh government has also announced free grains and ₹1000 to all daily wagers.
A few other state governments have also announced similar compensations but as of this article, not all the state governments have taken these measures. It will be disastrous if these governments do not act quick.
The speech given by the PM yesterday missed not only on reliefs for daily wagers but it also missed the facts like essential stores will remain open and what exactly constitutes an essential commodity. This was actually covered soon after through Twitter but it was already too late. People were already out in the streets, running towards stores to hoard as much as they can. This has lead to the already low amount of goods the stores had being dried up.
I personally had issues today obtaining stuff like Maggi (instant ramen) and even bread. The supply chain was already disrupted but yesterday's panic, which could have been easily solved by addressing it in the speech itself, has made availability worse. Not only that, the people that went out to hoard yesterday collected in groups, thus increasing the risk of the infection spreading further.
On to the enforcement of this lockdown, police has been deployed to deal with anyone out about in the streets. One person from a house is allowed to move within 1-2 km of their location given that they are looking for essential goods. Ideally, police should not care in these cases... However, I have already gotten the wind of cases where the police isn't letting anyone out of their homes, regardless of reason. This could very well be just rumors since I haven't been able to confirm it myself yet.
Regarding those who have no reason to be out about in the streets, I have heard about and seen videos of a variety of punishments the police has come up with, including the act of beating the person with sticks... Not the best they could have done, I agree.
All in all, as you may have already deduced, the execution of this operation is hardly satisfactory. This is one thing the government should have handled with extreme delicacy but we are off to a really bad start. The results could turn out to be catastrophic, if the government keeps making more mistakes. I will be sure to keep you guys updated on the situation, as well as share a more personal account about life during the lockdown soon enough.
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