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

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

AMR: A gathering storm that threatens a century of progress in medicine

By Bobby Ramakant*  A strategic roundtable on “Charting a new path forward for global action against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)” was organised at the 77th World Health Assembly or WHA (WHA is the apex decision-making body of the World Health Organization – WHO, which is attended by all countries that are part of the WHO – a United Nations health agency). AMR is among the top-10 global health threats “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a growing and urgent crisis which is already a leading cause of untimely deaths globally. More than 2 people die of AMR every single minute,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. “AMR threatens to unwind centuries of progress in human health, animal health, and other sectors.”

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

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. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Top Punjab Maoist who failed to analyse caste question, promoted economism

By Harsh Thakor*  On June 15th we commemorated the 15th death anniversary of Harbhajan Singh Sohi or HBS, a well known Communist leader in Punjab. He expired of a heart attack in Bathinda in 2009.

Saving farmers and consumers from GM crops and food: Philippines court shows the way

By Bharat Dogra*  At a time when there is increasing concern that powerful GM crop lobbyists backed by enormous resources of giant multinational companies may be able to bulldoze food safety and environmental concerns while pushing GM crops, a new hope has appeared in the form of a court decision from the Philippines.