India’s 1.3 billion people to remain under lockdown till May 3, adding to their misery

Ensuring Socio-economic Justice

Crescent International

Sha'ban 21, 1441 2020-04-15

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

The three-week lockdown imposed on India’s 1.3 billion people on March 24 to contain the spread of COVID-19 has been extended to May 3.

The Modi regime announced the extension on April 14 just before it was due to expire, to maintain ‘social distancing’ and prevent spread of the virus among its teeming masses.

“Social distancing”, as Arudhati Roy observed, is “easy to understand for a society so steeped in the practice of caste”, but Modi’s lockdown orders created exactly the opposite effect.

Hundreds of millions of poor people and daily wage earners were left without means of livelihood to survive.

With virtually all businesses shut down, these unfortunate millions started to trek home from the cities.

In some instances, they had to walk hundreds of miles.

The sea of humanity—men, women and children—tightly crammed against each other, were on the march, making a mockery of social distancing.

Not since the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in August 1947 had such huge numbers been on the march.

Some people died on the way.

Others were attacked by police—yes, the notoriously corrupt and brutal police with the ubiquitous bamboo stick in hand that they use first before asking a question—and prevented from crossing state boundaries.

These hungry and thirsty migrant workers were then herded into makeshift holding pens in appallingly unsanitary conditions where spread of the disease was a certainty.

In extending the lockdown, Modi said: “From the economic angle, we have paid a big price.”

This is the case everywhere in the world but what plans do Modi and his henchmen have to alleviate the suffering of ordinary people?

Apart from platitudes, nothing.

Despite stating that “the lives of the people of India are far more valuable,” it is a strange way to show concern by abandoning them or locking them up.

After all, hundreds of millions of migrant workers from India’s rural hinterland have been abandoned in major cities—Mumbai, Delhi and others—to fend for themselves.

India also has an appallingly poor healthcare system.

It spends only 1.3% of GDP on health services.

This figure has remained static for a decade putting India 187th out of 194 countries according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while accounting for a full 20% of the global healthcare burden.

While those with money can access good healthcare facilities, for the overwhelming majority, such facilities are beyond their reach.

Modi admitted that India has a poor “health infrastructure” but offered the lame excuse of “limited resources”.

Whatever happened to India’s boast of economic miracle and rapid growth?

It can launch satellites into space but cannot feed an estimated 400 million desperately poor people that crawl in the streets like insects and have no roof over their heads.

Benefits of economic progress are confined to a limited number of people—the middle class.

For the rest—the hundreds of millions of desperately poor—economic progress might as well be on a different planet.

As of today (April 15 at 14:06 GMT), the total infections in India were reported to be 11,555 with some 396 deaths, according to worldometer.info.

Some experts have said India has not conducted enough tests (less than 245,000 in a population of 1.3 billion, according to worldometer.info) and that the true number of infections is much higher.

With some of the most crowded cities on the planet, there are fears that numbers could skyrocket and overwhelm the shaky healthcare system.

Far from showing empathy for the suffering masses, Modi—and by extension, India—couldn’t cares less for the hundreds of millions of poor.

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