Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Covid-19 and Unfolding Myriad Soap Operas in India

Basically, what the government did was to put a pause button on the spread of Carona through tactics of lockdown

Saturday May 30, 2020 6:11 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba

India Covid-19 Lockdown

As we chug along from one lock down to other, there are myriad themes running parallel to the Covid-19 that are unfolding before us like great Indian soap opera.

Is Lockdown Effective?

The first theme is the futility of the lockdown to handle the rising Covid-19 cases. After the end of lockdown 4.0, now it is clear that this measure has totally failed to serve any purpose. The government's efforts through the lockdown was to ensure the pandemic remains suppressed. But, the government never gave any thought how to control it in foreseeable future when the lock down ends.

Basically, what the government did was to put a pause button on the spread of Caronavirus through the lockdown. It was not backed up by any sensible long-term measures to contain it. So, it is expected that when the lockdown is removed, the pandemic may bounce back and scale to its original peak trajectory. The government has not made any preparation using the lockdown period.

'More a guess work'

The government has claimed the lockdown has saved between 1.2 to 2.1 lakh lives therefore its importance cannot be undermined. However, such claims have to be verified because it is based on mathematical modeling which is more a guess work. Such figures are not accurate and are little reflection to ascertain the veracity of the lock down logic. The general assumption is when the pandemic gets over, the human toll may be the same as it would have been without the lockdown.

This implies that the government has squandered the precious time it gained from the lockdown to increase the healthcare infrastructure in the country. In our country, except for Kerala, no other state is in a position to handle the worst case scenario of Covid-19. In terms of preparation, the country is at same place where it was on March 25, the first day of lockdown.


What was expected was the government should have utilized the lockdown period for rapidly testing infected individuals, quarantine the suspects and trace and isolate their contacts to prevent the infection spreading further in the country. However, even after fifty days, the government is ill-prepared to face the pandemic head on.

The Prime Minister on May 12 mentioned that our domestic source is manufacturing about “two lakh N-95 masks” per day. However, he did not mention whether it would be sufficient for the size of India’s population. Similarly, he did not made public how much self-sufficient he has made the country in terms of personal protective equipment, testing kits, beds, ventilators oxygen etc.

The fact is this government has placed India in an appalling situation which is heading towards a definite catastrophe.

Lockdown Impact on Economy

The second theme is, lockdown has not only battered the Indian economy but virtually pulled down from where it stood in 2014. It will be hard to rise up again to that level.

The government's move of the lockdown has created an economic and humanitarian crisis in the country. The livelihood and economic security of millions of people have been lost due to the lockdown. More than a hundred million jobs are lost during the period and it’s still counting. The government has provided little direct relief to those who have lost their jobs. About 90% of migrant workers have received no pay from their employers and the government has provided little rations to them to survive.

Those at the helm of the affairs have shown no signs how to deal with the socio economic crisis which has occurred to due to the lockdown. The government seems to have no clue to prioritize the issues that are related to Covid-19. The tall claims made by the government while announcing the lockdown, stare at its face and it’s all round failure glares with many looking at it in disdain.

Migrants' Crisis

The third theme is that the lockdown has created the migrant worker problem in the country. It is estimated that there are about five to six crore migrant laborers engaged in various works in different parts of India. The lockdown has left them in the lurch and they are forced to return back to their places with uncertain future. Their reverse migration is a story laced with poverty, economic hardship and denial of dignity of life all because of government hasty measure of lock down.

The images of a man eating raw meat of a dead animal at the national highway, a man using his bare hand to drink split milk on the road while a dog was licking the same, a toddler playing with her dead mother's corpse on a railway platform are grim reminder how deep the rich-poor divide exists in India.

These migrant workers are in need of a national register for a meaningful socio-economic interventions. But the government has no will to do any such exercise. The net result is the miseries of the migrant workers are increasing manifold under Covid-19. They are treated as rubbish by the people and the government alike and both are indifferent towards their sufferings.

Communal hatred against Muslims

The fourth theme is the spread of communal hatred against Muslims in India under the shadow Covid-19. This intensified after the lockdown was announced in March and some members of the Tablighi Jamaat at its Markaz in Nizamuddin Delhi, tested positive for the deadly virus.

Since then, Islamophopbic rant dominated the Indian News Channels for several weeks. Various social media platforms were flooded with anti-Muslim, anti-Islam messages. There were a number of statements made by the BJP leaders accusing Muslims of spreading the carona virus. Among them, the most repugnant was from a BJP minister calling ‘Ramzade’ to Hindus and ‘Haramzade’ to Musims. A BJP MLA in UP publicly announced not to buy vegetables from any Muslim vendor.

In a fallout of these comments some Muslim vendors and delivery boys were chased from the Hindu localities. Some Hindus even refused to take essentials from Muslim delivery boys, accusing them of spreading the corona virus. Now even after two months of the call by the PM for "unity", the bigots have not stopped spreading hatred against Muslims.

Arrest of the anti CAA protesters

The fifth theme is the arrest of the anti-CAA protesters under the shadow of Covid-19. So far 1082 arrests have been made of those earlier engaged in anti-government protests. Many are booked under sedition laws for doing anti-national activities. Among them are the students from Jamia Millia Islamia, JNU and AMU universities besides other social activists. Many are women protesters who had organized peaceful protest against the CAA/NPR/NRC.

The police had taken advantage of the lockdown situation and arrested some of these protesters in an unconstitutional way. Those arrested are not getting any legal aid because courts across the country are not fully functional. The communal politics behind these arrests are also blatant, as majority of those booked during the lockdown are Muslims.

China’s intrusion into Ladakh

The sixth in India’s myriad soap Operas under Covid-19 is China’s intrusion into Ladakh. About 15,000 PLA soldiers are inside Ladakh, infringing on India’s sovereignty at different locations. The Chinese troops are in the Galwan River valley, the Pangong Lake sector, and at the Demchok region. They have taken over the so-called Finger Heights, and for the first time, a Chinese flag is flying on the hill features overlooking the Pangong Lake.

The negotiations to defuse the situation have totally frozen, with the Chinese side rebuffing India’s call for meetings to resolve the situation. Indian troops are deployed in the vicinity and it’s in eye ball to eye ball confrontation position.

Retired Lt Gen H S Panag PVSM, AVSM who served in the Indian Army for 40 years in an article has said, "The country must hold the Narendra Modi government and the military accountable for the intelligence failure and the loss of territory, if any, that has taken place."

In sum, the pandemic control efforts of the government is a total failure. The central government instead of solving the problems has increased the threats exponentially due to the lockdown. The government’s callous approach to deal with the Covid-19 is reflected in its short-term approach of containment without doing much to handle its long-term fallout.

As India’s myriad soap operas under Covid-19 lockdown is still unfolding it is certain that whether we survive or die is no one’s business. The government only believes in retaining its grip on power by doing false propaganda and without addressing the core healthcare issues

The lockdown has taught us the lesson that till the pandemic leaves us, as individuals we have to take extra care and caution to avoid any infection as the government policies to control the pandemic is thoroughly insufficient.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com. Views expressed are personal.]

For all the latest News, Opinions and Views, download ummid.com App.

Select Language To Read in Urdu, Hindi, Marathi or Arabic.

Share this page

 Post Comments
Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com