India lockdown
India lockdown
In My View

Lockdown and the economy worry people the most

P.C. Punnen

P.C. Punnen

We are in a very serious situation, something unheard of after we became an independent country. We have to decide what is more vital- our economic situation or the lives.of our citizens. There is no way we can fix the problem. Our economy has been in doldrums for a while now. We are in for serious trouble and we have found no way of solving it, an economic problem, say a number of economists. "The longer the complete shutdown, the trickier the task of revival-- much like a comatose human being", says a Times editorial. It must be a good and clear warning of things to come.

The problem began in China. As a neighbouring country we too had the problem. It has spread to all parts of the world and it is now a pandemic. It is feared that it will take lakhs of lives.

China is weathering this pandemic .How it began and how the disease has spread are matters that we can't say for sure. We have taken steps to prevent the spread of the disease. How successful it is, is another matter. How it will pan out, we can't say because more than anything else, it needs the support of the masses who are ignorant of the gravity of the situation. Or they understand the enormity of the situation too late. That said let us see the actions of our leaders because that's an important thing.

Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala's chief minister, has said let the Prime Minister say what is to be done, then we will announce our position. The other chief ministers have almost said the same thing but some have said the lockdown should continue. Orissa chief minister has announced he would continue the lockdown till next month end.

The lockdown announced by PM Modi is supposed to end next week. Modi made the announcement without seeking the advice of the chief ministers. It was a one man show as his previous ban on currency notes which didn't yield anything .The BJP said forgetting the fact that he hadn't consulted anyone among them on the issue, of demonetisation. It was aimed at putting an end to black money mostly stashed away in foreign banks. He had promised Rs 15 lakhs each for all the downtrodden of India. He had talked about India's budget aiming at reaching trillions. Not that he didn't do anything; he had the guts to announce the scrapping of Talaq, talaq , talaq which was against Muslim women. The Congress and even the Left parties ignored it. The Congress has ruled the country for a long time but has done nothing about this practice.

One suspects that the opposition parties played a game by putting the responsibilty entirely on Narendra Modi for the lockdown. That is Indian politics. The winner takes it all. The loser blames everybody except him or her. We have to accept that.Now we come to the serious problems we are facing. As days go by this will be a big setback to Narendra Modi if not to the BJP. The people won't be happy with what the government has done regarding the election promises. Come Saturday and India will have to take a tough decision. Modi has sought the opinion of all chief ministers though he hadn't consulted them when the lockdown was announced. And most of the chief ministers have proved they know Indian politics too well .Let that pass. Let us wait for Modi's decision. Modi, as his opponents say, if not publicly at least privately, is a hard taskmaster and a crowd puller. But this time our chief ministers will outsmart him, it appears.

Can India continue the lockdown? India has, as I said, no easy solutions for the problems it faces. If we continue the lockdown the country's economy will suffer badly. If we remove the lockdown, we will be asking for more trouble, more deaths, more unrest by people who hunt for jobs and people who seek better jobs. Our religious leaders and newspaper owners will become his ardent critics. One is reminded of Shakepeare's play where Brutus is facing a double whammy by his former supporters. In short, we wait for Modi's decison, for the country has to take a decision either favouring the growth of India's businessmen or India's masses. No doubt we are in a fix.

It's worth noting that we Christians haven't done anything worth talking about to face the crisis and help to save the poor. They are following our masses: no permanent friend or permanent enemy. The ones who spend lakhs to build or rebuild a church, the ones who spent thousands to celebrate their weddings, or on their relative's funerals ought to give donations to the PM or the CM, I would say.

But that won't be done. It speaks volumes about them and their hypocrisy.

Another thing worth mentioning is India buckling under pressure to the US. Trump threatened "action" against India last week on the issue of India banning the export of a medicine. What was the medicine? The medicine long ago used against the spread of Malaria.

This reminds one of Indira Gandhi. When we were at war with Pakistan in December 71 the then President of US threatened her of stern action and sent a carrier task force of the Seventh Fleet, Task Force 74 (TF74). But Indira Gandhi didn't budge. Within a short time Bangladesh was born and Indira Gandhi was widely praised by Vajpayee. What caused India's victory was India signing a treaty with Russia, and it was Haksar who gave her the idea.As we enter the last phase of the lockdown --- according to Modi's last month's announcement -- we notice that the situation in the country and abroad are worsening leaving Modi to take a starker decision. And it is that gives the opposition a chance to score double whammies.


The facts and views expressed are that of the author