Saturday, May 8, 2021

Protect livelihood

The crisis that we are facing this time in the world is nothing new to humans. We have seen health challenges in the past, and overcome them. Covid-19 is certainly not the first thing that has struck us humans in our journey on this planet. Just a look at the recent past, we have had challenges like AIDS and Ebola. They were not less threatening than the Covid-19 pandemic. But gradually the world found the ways and means to get past those terrible times. Now we are in the midst of the second Covid-19 wave, which has again halted education, strained the medical system, disrupted the economy and affected public and personal life. And with infections rising, many apprehend a tougher situation on the pandemic front at least for some time. Slowly lockdown or lockdown-like restrictions are being imposed to prevent the spread of the virus and different sectors are being impacted differently. The strategy being followed today unlike last year is to impose periodic and targeted lockdowns and set up containment zones only where there is growth of infection rates. Otherwise the government is letting life go its usual ways though with precautions being observed. The hope is that these containment measures and observance of precautions will contain the quick spread of the disease and control the death rate. But no matter how we explain the present crisis, and how we analyze the response to this crisis at the governmental and societal levels, one thing is clear: things will be worse before they get better. It means that we have more weeks ahead that would challenge our patience and test our capacity to hold the nerve. This is true not just for the government and the systems it has put in place. It is equally true for the civil society, and those in the society who are organized to work in such disastrous situations. Not just that, it applies to every household, and each individual. In the beginning of this crisis, last year around the same time, there was enough talk about the psychological impacts of the pandemic. Since people were confined to their places, and the routine activities were disrupted, it was bound to bring stress to mind. That was then thought of affecting the overall behaviour in the family. In fact we witnessed a steep rise in the cases of domestic violence. We even had our children affected because of the tense atmosphere in homes. Two main reasons were ascribed to this catastrophic impact at the level of families. One, loss of livelihood. Two, disruption in normal set of interactions and activities. To meet the first challenge many in our society came forward to help the needy. We can’t have an accurate estimate of the financial assistance rendered to the affected families, but an overall sense of things is enough to convey that people did contribute in this time of distress, and saved the society from a total collapse. The second impact was minimized by organizing counseling sessions, most of them held on line, and also through dissemination of relevant stuff into the larger pool of our society. These efforts did make an impact. Right now the crisis is bigger than the one we witnessed last year. It simply means that if we want to save a societal collapse, more needs to be done this time than before. Indeed we will have to face the disturbances for some more time, and we must prepare ourselves for that in every respect. The government should now take decisions that are refined and thought through. Unlike the earlier announcements of lockdown, we now have a bundle of information, data, and experience at our back. So any decisions taken by the government in this regard should benefit from the feedback of over a year of experience. Sure, it is a difficult time, and taking decisions is a tough task. But in all this, the adherence to the basic protection guidelines, wearing masks and maintaining distance, should be emphasized with renewed vigour.