This pandemic has created two sets of people. One group says that only a total lockdown can tackle the growing surge of COVID, and other says that lockdown is not only useless but also creates problems, mostly economic, for the majority of the society. Only last year the whole of India’s migrant labourers suffered what was probably the worst case of mismanagement amid a pandemic. Several people were left on roads, without food, shelter, or any form of transportation. The migrant labour’s crisis, if not of the whole world, has become a primary image of national lockdown in India.
After the first wave of 2020, India had almost forgotten the norms of COVID, the situation turned subjectively normal. However, as the second wave started kicking in from the end of March 2021 and started breaking records throughout April, appeal and talks of a total lockdown were heard. This time around, there still has not been a national level total lockdown, only the states which were facing the crisis, established total or partial lockdown. Several states including Telangana at first did not stay in favor of a lockdown but had to follow suit when the High Courts intervened.
Mamta Banerjee announced lockdown-like measures the day she was sworn in as the CM of the state of West Bengal. Without any prior warning, she declared the stoppage of local trains in the state. Local trains are probably the cheapest and the most efficient system of transportation for many manual laborers and laymen. Shutting down local trains totally not only disrupts smooth transportation for the under-privileged it also hits them economically.
Another glitch in the system of partial lockdowns is that markets and essential items’ stores are allowed a window of few hours during the day. For an instance, grocery stores are to remain open from 7-10 am. People flock to the market during that very period creating chaos and with no way to ensure the protocols of COVID being followed, the crowding does more harm than good.
Kejriwal also imposed a sudden total lockdown of 6 days in Delhi during the last week of April, totally ignoring that the National Capital Region is a place of economic sustenance for uncountable migrant laborers from the states of UP and Bihar. People were dropped off at the borders via buses. No arrangements were made for them. Leaders from the opposition party slammed him for imposing a lockdown to hide his failure in combating the situation. Economic sustenance is one of the foremost reasons why Telangana’s CM KCR was against imposing lockdown in the state. He had stated that life in Telangana would go as usual following strict COVID protocols.
There are two schools of thought, one that thinks a lockdown may be useful because it can protect lives, and another that thinks that a lockdown would destroy livelihoods and thus lives.
Numerous cities and states have announced various curbs once again, and some elected leaders have warned of new lockdowns. However, after the first central government-imposed lockdown in March 2020 and its harsh fallouts, including its impact on the economy and stress on people’s finances, another lockdown may not be the way forward.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also indicated to the leaders of all the states in one of his recent addresses to the nation that lockdown should be imposed only as last measures and should not be the first tool up for grab in our bags.