Edit/Op-Ed

Easier applying lipstick to ant than holding Indian population at home during lockdown!

Dr Ahmed Mohiuddin Siddiqui for BeyondHeadlines

Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India is the leader of 1.3 billion Indians. He asked the countrymen to stay at home after declaring a 21-day lockdown to fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. We must listen to our leader Narendra Modi and observe the lockdown in letter and spirit. Sadly, this is not happening in some parts of the country.

It is easier applying lipstick to an ant than holding the Indian population at home during the lockdown. The educated and the not-so – educated are sailing in the same boat of chaos and sometimes there is willful disobedience to the government order. Our masses must understand that our Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone cannot fight COVID-19 as Coronavirus is called.

The Coronavirus which seems to be at the mutation stage is ready for the next community transmission stage. God forbid, if that happens, imagine the costs for our nation. We need to take lessons from Italy, Spain, the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) which woke up too late to handle the Corona crisis. Some of the countries including Sweden are in denial mode and not ensuring lockdowns to contain COVID-19.

There are huge human costs as we have seen the spiralling death toll in Italy and Spain by the hour. It is faster than the sixes hit by Chris Gayle or David Warner. It has been reported that many youths in different Indian cities are violating the lockdown and moving freely on their motorbikes for no reason. Youth is our strength. But, they should realize this.

Prof. T. C. A. Anant, Chief Statistician of India, wrote in the foreword to Youth in India (2017) thus: Presently, India has the largest share of the youth population in the world and will continue to hold so for the next 20 years. The present challenge is to increase the human resource potential and to appropriately use to make it a driving force of the economy of the country.

The share of the youth population in the total population was 34.8 % in 2011. This is projected to decline and the share of the youth population will come down to 31.8% by 2031. As per India’s census 2011, youth (15 – 24 years) in India constitutes about one-fifth (19.1%) of India’s total population.

The rate of unemployment in India is at the highest in many, many decades. The youth in the organized and the unorganized sector have been losing jobs like the bursting of a main supply water pipeline. If the past five years were not enough to take away the jobs due to demonetization and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), COVID-19 has come as a bigger menace wiping out all projected economic gains.

Hopefully, the economic stimulus package announced by the government, turn things around. Before that happens, our countrymen especially the youth must adhere to the 21-day lockdown. Those quarantined at home must not disregard it. Consider yourself lucky that you have a roof above your head and you are in the comfortable confines of your homes. Have you not seen the lakhs of migrant labourers and workers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other places jostling for a seat or a foot space in the jam packed buses at Anand Vihar in Delhi?

There are lessons for the Central and state governments as well. They could have planned the lockdown better. The rush of migrant labourers and workers in different places of the country trying to reach their native places could have been avoided if buses and trains were arranged much in advance. What if this huge rush of crowds, turn out to be a potential COVID-19 bomb and explode in rural India hitherto untouched by the pandemic? Nobody knows if there are any corona carriers in these crowds. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already expressed his apprehensions about this possibility. He thinks the purpose of the lockdown will be lost with so many people returning to Bihar.

Now, we have time to reflect and contemplate. There is a need to re-connect with family members but remember to keep social distancing. Relationships were left behind while cultivating new contacts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

It is high time that we heed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice and stay at home to defeat the Coronavirus. Only then we shall rise again and put our distinguished country on the road to prosperity.

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