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Corona Virus: A Lose-Lose Situation for Poor

When the Government of India (GoI) gave the call for the ‘Janta curfew’ or a nation-wide quarantine lockdown to urge people to stay at homes and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, it further reinstated for careful measures to control the spread of the virus and act collectively. But, can the poor households who are already fighting for a basic living, take remedies in this havoc?

Residents wear protective masks as they line up in the supermarket on February 12, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China
credits: DW

Ever since, the news of the spread of Corona Virus and its increasing consequences are been gearing up, a section of the society is being more and more cautious regarding its spread. These people who mostly constitute the higher income group citizens have been carefully examining the situation and are taking all the essential precautions as a ‘concerned citizen’; particularly confining them to the quarantine isolation. But once we step out of this tiny so called ‘privileged society’, we enter in the real India, an India of poor where people earn not to live a respectful life but merely to make the both ends meet. In this very version of the country, where taking precautions from the spread of virus itself is seen as a sign of ‘luxury’, can the seriousness of the alarming situation of the Corona outbreak be taken seriously?

In the reality, poor are being the biggest sufferers from the spread of Corona. Although the corporates and offices have announced the work from home for their officers and employees, but no such benefit exists for the laborers, domestic workers and the petty vendors, who have to step out of their respective quarters for work. They have to decide in two contrasting situations, whether to die from the lack of food or from any foreign virus, from which their under-nourished bodies lack the ability to fight. In this condition, mostly what they chose is the latter option.

It’s true that in the situation like of todays, it’s better to have some surplus of the essential items like wheat, grains and sanitization products. But when the chaos take over everyone’s mind, the ‘storing’ of products changes to their ‘hording’. While few buying the products in fairly large quantities, the demand-supply equilibrium gets disturbed considerably, thus resulting in the high prices. The poor whose work has been already been reduced owing to the reduction in workforce by the factories; have to now further be exploited because of the alarming prices.

In this Tuesday, March 3, 2020 photo, homeless people crowd a sidewalk in downtown Salem, Ore., where they have set up a makeshift camp. Experts say that the homeless, who often have health and substance-abuse problems, are exposed to the elements and do not have easy access to hygiene, are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Some cities are making provisions so the homeless who contract the virus have a place to recover without spreading the infection further. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)
credits: Andrew Selsky

It must be learned that the various health organizations, the World Health Organization (WHO) being the most prominent, has been realizing the guidelines to be followed regarding the pandemic. But none of their guidelines allude a remedy for the poor, who are sufferers. Even though few state governments of India, like of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and especially that of NCT Delhi have been recently come up with the plans of labor pension, free meals, double ration and subsidy over the medical expenses for the poor households for the poor, but still the results of the schemes are yet to borne results.

It must be mentioned that the government interference is of no use if the common public at large doesn’t sympathies with each-other. The shopkeepers and the customers, before hording the products must realize that for the every extra unnecessary unit of their purchase, a poor in some remote corner of the country or even world, may perish due to starvation, owing to lack of the food at the reasonable amount. It must further be considered that applying a drop of sanitizer on your hands alone would although save you from the virus, but it will be eradicated if you make sure that each and every individual is provided with one.

Aashish Kochhar is a student pursuing History from Jamia Millia Islamia.

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Written by Aashish Kochhar

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