Not necessarily you would find yourself pushing the person ahead of you in the queue for a movie ticket! The days after the lockdown could be tougher than the lockdown itself.
India is large. Whole of it cannot be in a definite stage of the Corona virus spread! Some part can be in Stage-1, some in 2, some in 3 and so on. Therefore the level of Government intervention at different regions would be different. But whatever be the case, we have to accept that this virus is not going to get extinct in near future. Therefore, to tackle this, a long-term plan is required.
The foremost thing as of now is to emphasize on ruthless testing and contain the further spread of the virus, thereby flattening the infection curve. The economic activities could then be allowed to be re-injected in a staggered manner with proper monitoring. Setting up of a specialized board or task force or even a ministry in this regard could also be a welcome step.
The fight of the country with this virus will be long. It may take years for us to totally eliminate this virus. Meanwhile, it will pose some serious challenges to the nation.
The most-hard hit sections of people in this lockdown were the daily wage earners. Many had to travel thousands of kilometers on foot to return back to their native places and many are stuck at relief camps. After the lock-down will be relaxed, the trauma they have faced during the lock-down would restrict them from moving back to their jobs, therefore, leaving a labour scarcity in cities and unemployment in rural areas. Unemployment could further lead to rising up of thefts and loot cases.
What about the Indian students studying abroad? Most of them were either in Europe, USA, China and Singapore! Their completion of the course would be totally dependent upon the ways that those countries handle the situation!
On the economic front, the prediction of GDP growth rate as 2.5% clearly indicates that market is going to face a huge crunch. What does that mean? Cut in salaries, no increments, cut in interest rates in banks, cut in production, low demand and low supply. The demand of non-essential items would certainly be reduced.
Further, unless a stringent international regulation to check the spread of virus through cargo is activated, the dependence of goods from other countries has to be reduced. Therefore it would lead to supply crunch in the market.
Tourism industry will be the worst affected ones. It would be hit by both, the first being economics and the second being biology or virology to be precise.
Looking into the available medical facility and resources with India, expecting too much and too early from the Government would be wrong. Therefore, the practice of Social distancing might have to be practiced for at least few more years.
The fake news these days are equally harmful as the corona virus itself. It has to be a duty of the people to verify the news in the social media before acting upon it. The testosterone inciting fake messages often lead to violence and public disorders, which should be avoided. Providing the virus a title depicting its caste, race, religion, region would further to social disharmony.
Public transport will be a risky venture until and unless we are sure that everyone on the trip has been tested, which seems to be a huge challenge for the Government.
The winner of the game would be the country which would invent the cure for the disease, but there are chances that it may use the medicine as a tool to recover the losses faced by it by the pandemic! The role of international organizations may prove essential in making the medicine supplies available throughout the world.
During the course of time, there is a possibility that the virus may change or modify itself in various countries/regions. Therefore, “one medicine fits all” formula would become doubtful.
Further, there could be chances that the terrorist outfits would store this virus and could use it for terror attacks.
What could be the way ahead:
India has to identify itself that it is not the same as it was there during the time of 2nd world war. India can now no longer be immune to any cross-border conspiracy. Probably, this attitude of India would have triggered itself to lock the ports and borders and quarantine the visitors a bit earlier.
Doctor to population ratio needs to be relooked in India which is very poor. Further, this ratio is very pathetic in few states of India as compared to others. This does not mean that the backward states only would suffer; the unattended cases may carry the virus to other parts of the country too. India has to devise a uniform ratio thorough-out the country and ensure sufficient medical facilities. There is no logical reason why India has such few number of seats in medical sciences! If it is intentionally kept low for the purpose of maintaining a “seat demand” so that huge bribes could be earned for providing admissions, it has to be checked by the Government.
India has to acknowledge the modern warfare of cyber and biological attacks and invest upon researches and capacity building which should be at par with the investments being done in defense sector.
Meanwhile, till the things gets sorted out, it would be a huge challenge for the administration to maintain law and order.
As we saw the lightning speed of the spread of this virus, we are sure that the slightest of leniency in the fight against it would rewind the whole scenario. The future of the country lies upon the shoulders of its people. The lock-down period had forced the people to either sit idle or perform bare minimum activities from home. But now, the time is arriving where the people need to re-roll the economic wheel of the country while striking a balance with the health of it. The days ahead have more challenges than being locked up at homes. Let us face it and fight this COVID-19 away!
*The writer is a political and social analyst based in Patna, Bihar. He has been writing columns for various online publications.