The bar has been set so low that many of us were just relieved when the centre finally announced a relief package. P.Sainath does a deep dive into it and shows it to be woefully inadequate, and tells us what needs to be done.
/But focusing on COVID-19 to the exclusion of the larger canvas – that’s attempting to mop the floor dry with all the taps open and running. We need an approach which pushes ideas that strengthen public health systems, rights and entitlements./
/The government’s ‘package’ is a curious blend of callousness and cluelessness. It’s not just one virus we’re fighting – pandemics are also a ‘package.’ Of which economic distress can be a self-inflicted or self-aggravated part – driving us from calamity to catastrophe./
Making an apology without admitting your mistakes and then claiming what you did was inevitable is no apology at all. This means the earlier mistakes are not going to be rectified in any way and people will continue to suffer because, well, I’m sorry, it is inevitable and can’t be done in any other way and it’s for your own good. The same, ‘Oh I cry for a puppy hit by a car’ routine.
This is unpardonable. Here is a rather depressing compilation of reports on the deaths related to the poorly planned lock down in India…already nearing the deaths due to corona in India. We can argue over whether some of these deaths should be included here but…if you do argue, no point in arguing with you.
The gap between the privileged students with access to internet, books, online coaching, exponentially increased parental guidance etc., and the not-so-privileged students in their ability to crack entrance exams from NEET to Civil services is going to be widened significantly in this corona induced break.
Merely postponing the exams this year may not help. What are we going to do? This is another trigger for dramatically challenging and changing the status quo.
I am reminded of a research cited by our friend David H. Albert in his book, ‘Dismantling the Inner School – Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance’. An extract from a review I wrote in 2016.
/Brick fifteen: School can fix everything and if things are not going well, the solution is more of it
David says, schools have become the chosen venue for interventions in the life of our communities far beyond their more narrowly defined educational purposes. He cites a research published in 2001, by Karl Alexander, a sociologist at John Hopkins University. Alexander followed 650 first graders and found that, after five years, children from low socio-economic class backgrounds, after starting with only a small deficit, were well behind those from higher ones. But he also found that cumulative classroom learning over the five-year period was virtually the same. The difference was a result of what happened to the reading scores of the two groups during summer vacations.
On that basis, it is asserted that keeping the kids (especially the poorer ones) in school would help bridge the gap. But rich kids gain most when they are not in classroom. So, the question should be what can be done in their homes, families, and communities outside of school and instead of school to improve the quality of their living and learning environments./
This is increasingly turning out to be a lock down of the privileged for the privileged by the hardships of the poor.
/Sanitation workers in Chennai are walking long distances to work during the lockdown, or journeying on garbage lorries. Taking leave for a day during this period invites penalties, even sacking/
/the sanitation workers are finding it hard to get even drinking water in the lockdown period. “Earlier, they would be given water by local residents in the colonies where they work. But many have been saying they are refused water these days.”/
Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey have worked with/for the common man for many decades and it shows in every word of this empathetic essay. When the social distance between the government and honest people on the ground like Aruna Roy or Harsh Mander increases, when you turn a deaf ear to a P.Sainath or Jean Dreze, this inhuman situation is what we would end up with time and again, while the mindless patriots go about banging their plates and setting fires and defending their Supreme Leader, come what may.
As/if the corona and hunger moves down the pyramid, we need to listen to these sensible and knowledgeable voices on how to alleviate the immeasurable pain and anxiety created by it amongst the poor.
/COVID-19 is a disaster that came with prior warning, and therefore did not warrant an arbitrary, unplanned and ill-prepared decision./
/This lockdown is shaping itself as the expedient response of an elite terrified of falling victim to a virus. There is clearly little imagination or application to work out a plan of action based on compassion and understanding of conditions on the ground./
/The propagandists uttered platitudes of support reiterating mandatory ‘social distancing’. The pretended ignorance of how the labour force lives — crammed together, 10 in a room — makes such statements pointless. In the slum or basti, social distancing is a non-existent concept. No order will work unless the government recognises and addresses the dire circumstances of the so-called informal sector. Those secure in isolated rooms in spacious homes, with a huge food stock, cannot wish this problem away./
/Desperation has not robbed them of dignity or independence. There is surprisingly no anger being expressed — yet. All they want is to go home./
/Draconian orders and platitudes will not work. Governments must show leadership, resolve, commitment, and compassion. Resources have to be effectively and optimally used. /
Tell me this is fake news. This is unbearable. Inhuman.
No lock down for us. The lock down has helped unlock and unleash latent energy.
Corona or no corona, coconuts have to be collected and farming has to happen. [And there are two special spectators – Mottled Wood Owls – to watch the spectacle.]
Prime Minister-ji, farmers are also rendering an essential service. I request you to come up with some brilliant 2-in-1 measure to show solidarity with farmers working in the sun and to fight corona. How about sunbathing on roof tops at noon for half an hour? Surely sunlight should be more powerful than diyas and candles in combating corona. Strict social distance to be maintained while taking selfies. Traditional dress to be worn.
Banging the plates seemed to be a harmless indulgence which we could simply ignore. Then we saw processions of people clapping and banging and dancing and marching.
Candle lighting also seems to be another harmless fiddling indulgence to keep the supreme leader happy and proud. I hope there are no candle light marches against corona, or worse, a grid failure, as some experts are warning.
The TN Electricity Board and many experts are advising us to keep our appliances on. I have poor knowledge of electricity and grids, and hence please disregard what I say if it doesn’t make sense to you and don’t ask me, ‘what about earth hour,’ et al.
We don’t have too many appliances at our house to keep on – two ceiling fans, one borrowed Amma table fan and a mixer/grinder. The last time when there was a high voltage due to some repair work in the neighbouring area, my laptop charger and mobile charger both got burnt. The Mac (my bloody old white elephant) adaptor cost Rs.7500. The fans ran at scary breakneck speeds. The PCs at our learning centre have also been damaged a couple of other times due to high voltages, and possible improper wiring – we have just been too scared to use them after that, deciding to wait till we get the wiring checked/fixed or buy some stabilizers.
Follow what the government and your electricity boards are saying, or do your own fact checks. However, having been bitten many times, we are going to be selfish and careful – sorry, we cannot afford to take any chances with any of our devices this time. And in any case, there are no power consuming devices we have that we can run at that time.
If this whole business is fraught with risk for the grid, dependent on citizens taking patriotic precautions at personal risk to their appliances, with no apparent benefits for anyone except the PM, there is still time for the PM to call it off gracefully. And focus on the real issues of the poor.
We have frequent power cuts at night and I hope the electricity board will save me from taking any anti-national decision.
We are going to switch off everything (which we do frequently), go up to our house owner’s terrace, lie down watching the stars and sleep. I do not think all the lights on the farms and the village will be switched off (unless there is a powercut). Yet the sky will be lovely as always. More lovely if the lights go off. The almost-full moon will be bright and will dispel all darkness.,
The sudden clouds masking our evening sky today may have other plans though.
Another sad ‘I told you so’ moment about candle marches.
I don’t know the authenticity of all the videos on this thread (on comments). Nevertheless, the way crackers were burst allover India, even in villages, it is clear we have an Unplanned Lock down and Planned Entertainment.
Did anyone shout, ‘Yay, we have crossed 4000!’ I wouldn’t be surprised.
Meanwhile, one analysis, shared by Yogendra Yadav, put the death count due to the lock down at 77 in the first week alone, not far behind the corona related deaths.