The decision to extend the Jan Anushaasan Pakhwada (Public Discipline Fortnight) of the Rajasthan government is going to be tricky one to make, considering the key stake holders, the most troubled being the daily wage earners on one hand and the health care workers on the other.
How many more Jan Anushaasan Pakhwada (aka Lockdowns) we will need to witness depends on the rationale behind this decision as the time comes.
A survey was conducted by UdaipurTimes team led by Akhyar Ahmed today, where stratified sampling was done and readers were asked their opinion. The stratified sampling consisted of daily wage earners, auto drivers, thela wallahs, retail merchants (Dhan Mandi, Loha Bazaar, Sabzi Mandi, Bapu Bazar, etc.), professionals, doctors, teachers, housewives, students, factory owners, government employees, etc.
We thank the readers for their overwhelming response and based on the analysis of the responses, the public perspective (based on the survey) presents the general views on possible options in the coming days:
Respondents are aware of the danger of the pandemic and the way it has hit back after a slight easing… an easing that was actually a false negative. The opening up of the markets and public freedom was taken for granted. With the administration and health department continuously requesting for social distancing norms to be followed, neither the public nor the government per se were bothered. Election rallies, political rallies, social gatherings, tourism, overflow of people in public and tourist areas, unwarranted movement in the market, all of this led to the onslaught that we witnessed in the last two months, which probably have been the most fearful for the general public and most overwhelming for the health care personnel in their lifetime.
All of this, coupled with the economic fallout of the lockdown – business closed, markets not being able to function, daily wage earners once again in the docks, EMI pressure, no respite on the government utility bills (expect the nominal water bill being deffered), no respite from banks has led to daily livelihood screaming for breathing space, in a manner similar to serious patients screaming for oxygen. The government is ensuring that its revenues are in place, while the income sources of the general public have been strangled substantially.
In retrospective, the decision to apply the break on markets and public movement, first in phases and then altogether, now seems to have been the most logical decision at that point of time. The phase before the lockdown was imposed, witnessed a spurt in cases in Udaipur. The positivity rate moved from 15% to 28% and during the lockdown we have seen daily cases reaching an astonishing 1500+, with positivity rates as high as 38%, one of the highest in India.
Hospitals were overwhelmed with admissions of serious patients, the health care infrastructure took a sound beating, oxygen supply was insufficient, there was chaos all over, medicines were being black marketed, oxygen cylinders were in short supply, and deaths were causing the shamshan and kabristans to choke. During the holy month of Ramzaan, the Bohra Kabristan in Khanjipeer for example, saw as many as 148 graves dug, most due to the fatal COVID onslaught.
All of this could have been in much higher numbers had the lockdown not been imposed. In the last 10 days, we have seen the positive effect of the lockdown causing the numbers to fall – not to acceptable figures, but showing a positive trend. Deaths are decreasing, the hospitals and health care infra is showing signs of recovery, hospital admission cases are reducing to an extent, oxygen supply has been augmented – with corporate, government and public support.
As we look towards the government to take a rational decision, the ideal scenario would be to give an open hand to the district administration and they should take the call. Certain permissions, which invite public gatherings, should be strictly banned across the state. However, the district administration now should once again begin working with the health department and police department to permit a gradual release of the lockdown. A formula should be enabled looking at the demographics of the district(s). Markets and business should be allowed to function, albeit under the strict vigilance of the police and administration. Strict penalties for non-compliance, immediate seizing of shops for non-compliance, increasing the fines for non-compliance (social distancing, not wearing masks, etc.) should be adopted for the coming months.
Strict and in spirit Police patrolling should take place in the inner streets, in the markets, at tourist spots and at places where overcrowding is expected. These are the places where people are the most careless and not at cross roads or traffic signals, where they anyways expect police to be present.
The administration needs to ensure that political rallies are banned and social gatherings are disallowed for another few months. The country has already paid a price for political ambitions.