ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Abrupt Planning, Looming Hunger

Policy short-sightedness makes millions face the trade-off between the pandemic and starvation deaths.

Two weeks into the nationwide lockdown, we are faced with an inescapable trade-off between averting death from the COVID-19 and death from starvation. Photographs and media footages of hundreds and thousands of remigrating labourers walking their way back to their (rural) habitats in the most hazardous conditions or of destitute queuing up at the rain basera (common shelter) or community kitchens, speak volumes about the desperation of hunger sweeping across a large swathe of the Indian population. Is it only a matter of time that this widespread hunger will transgress into mass starvation?

The predicament of these millions, however, is not a specific fallout of the lockdown situation. It is a structural malaise that has been perpetually swept under the rugs of denial, political rhetoric and promises. The current systemic freeze has only amplified the manifestation of the plight, not to mention the exacerbation of its rate. While one may argue that the “lockdown” is the only viable means of combating the contagion, especially in urban India with its intense congestion, one cannot miss out the fact that by implementing “social distancing” as a “curfew,” the government has actually abetted bringing in more difficulties than it could resolve. For instance, the very mention of the word curfew, and more importantly the adoption of the classical curfew model of keeping essential services open for specific durations in certain states, has entitled the state administrations to take recourse to repressive measures for enforcing the quarantine. In the process, the supply of essentials, has further been disrupted.

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Updated On : 23rd Dec, 2020

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