Skip to main content

Economic distress 'killed' 270: Demand not to extend lockdown beyond May 3

Counterview Desk
The civil society network, Right to Food Campaign (RTFc), in a statement* titled ‘No More Lockdown Beyond May 3’, has said that the current lockdown of 40 days has “hopefully” been used to prepare the health system to deal with a spread of the coronavirus in times to come”, and the government must now focus on putting in place “systems for vigorous identify, trace, test, isolate, treat strategies to be followed.”
Pointing towards how the poor have suffered “tremendous economic distress” during this period, RTFc said, at least, 270 people have died due to hunger, exhaustion, state violence, suicides and inability to access healthcare due to the lockdown, and with hot summer in full swing, the problem would worsen.

Text:

On March 25, the Government of India imposed a national lockdown initially for three weeks which was later extended till May 3. The experience over the last one month shows that the lockdown has caused tremendous economic distress, especially for the poor. Crores of migrant workers are stranded in different parts of the country, unable to earn a livelihood and desperate to reach home.
With more than 90% of the workforce being in the informal sector, people are getting into a situation where they do not have enough resources to even be able to afford basic food items. The relief measures announced by the state and central governments have come late and many, including the most vulnerable, are excluded from them.
These relief measures are still largely inadequate to duly address the food crisis in the country. We, at the RTFc, believe that the importance of the continuation of food support provisions cannot be emphasized enough in these times.
Along with our longstanding demand for universal public distribution system (PDS), we reiterate that the government must support both National Food Security Act (NFSA) and non-NFSA beneficiaries with 10kgs of grain, dal 1.5 kg and 800 gm edible oil per person per month, for the next six months (i.e. until September) at the very least.
It has been reported that, at least, 270 people have died due to hunger, exhaustion, state violence, suicides and inability to access healthcare due to the lockdown. Many sick people are unable to reach healthcare facilities because many hospitals and clinics have been closed down or are not functioning to their full capacity and further people are not able to reach facilities due to the restrictions on movement.
Additionally, with the hot summer season ahead, it is excruciatingly difficult for people to fetch water during a lockdown. We are already hearing stories of people in kachi bastis suffering from water shortage and dehydration.
Further, it has been observed that the lockdown has strengthened the policing of regular lives of the people. In several places, people in search of food have had to face extreme police brutalities. Migrant workers wanting to secure their right to food and return to their native places have been treated with acute inhumanity, so much so that many have been slammed with charges of Section 144 violations. 
Relief measures announced by state and central governments have come late; many, including most vulnerable, are excluded
We demand that the Government must take due cognisance of this immense humanitarian crisis affecting the vulnerable sections by putting an immediate end to police brutalities. The Government must also arrange safe and sanitised modes of public transport for the migrant workers to return to their native places.
The current lockdown of 40 days has hopefully been used to prepare the health system to deal with a spread of the coronavirus in times to come. We believe that the government must now focus on putting in place systems for vigorous identify, trace, test, isolate, treat strategies to be followed.
However, it appears that many state governments are looking at the occurrence of even a single case to declare ‘hotspots’ and extend ‘sealings’ whereas the increase in cases is only to be expected with easing movement restrictions. Even people who were able to manage during the initial phase of the lockdown are now falling into distress.
We insist that the social and economic consequences of continuing such blanket measures are too high and cannot be justified. The right to a dignified of the people cannot be threatened at any point of time, more so during this global pandemic.
---
*Signed by Aysha, Gangaram Paikra, Kavita Srivastava and Dipa Sinha on behalf of Steering Committee, Right to Food Campaign

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.