The Indian government on Friday announced the extension of its current nationwide lockdown by another two weeks. The previous two nationwide lockdowns were announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But on Friday, the Ministry of Home Affairs chose to issue a notification announcing the extension of the 40-day lockdown by another two weeks.
The move did not go down well with journalists and commentators on social media as they slammed the government for choosing to look the other way on the plight of ordinary citizens.
Remember this tweet. The government is broke, industry has imploded. Lockdown 3.0 is the final blow to the India story & the Indian economy
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) May 1, 2020
So almost after 40 days of lockdown, it can safely be concluded that our govt & MHA have no other strategy other than this! We assumed that lockdown was meant for preparations for post May 3. But there is no such thing.
— Mahesh Langa (@LangaMahesh) May 1, 2020
So Lockdown 3.0 till 18/5. Will anything be done to deal with the desperation & destination of Migrant workers & other poor who have been without jobs & money for 6 weeks already. Direct money transfers? Or will millions be left to die of eventual starvation?
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) May 1, 2020
Even known supporters of the BJP government slammed the decision to extend the lockdown.
The lockdown has been a great success but it had served its purpose. Its extension, in absence of any antibody testing, is without any scientific basis.
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) May 1, 2020
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram had on Friday asked the government to announce its exit strategy after the current lockdown ended on 3 May. Instead, the government decided to extend the curb by another 14 days.
The current lockdown is beginning to pose unspeakable hardship to India’s population by robbing them of their dignity. Several journalists took to Twitter to share heartrending stories of human dignity taking a hit amidst the lockdown as they struggled to arrange for two square meals.
A woman rang the doorbell this morning & asked us for help- rice and dal. Milk for her child. After getting it, with folded hands & tears in her eyes she said- “Maine kabhi maanga nahin hai. Pehli baar hai. Bahut dikkat hai”. The lockdown is robbing citizens of their dignity.
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) April 30, 2020
I have never seen a single beggar in the relatively new area where I stay outside of Noida. Today for the first time I saw a couple of families standing outside the gate asking for money to buy groceries. Poor become poorer while the Parliament & PM’s house become more lavish.
— Stuti (@StuteeMishra) April 30, 2020
The adverse impact of the lockdown isn’t just confined to average middle-class, whose earnings have taken a hit due to companies and offices remaining shut for six weeks. Even the relatively affluent members of the society are now beginning to feel the pinch. They have their own woes to share.
One resident of a posh housing society in Noida said requesting anonymity, “The lockdown coincided with the arrival of summer. Our ACs that hadn’t been functional since last summer desperately needed servicing and refilling of gas. But the management of our housing society has banned the entry of even the local AC repair workers. We have small children in the family and have been forced to suffer in this scorching heat.”
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Another resident of a neighbouring society in Noida said that TV served as the only source of entertainment for his family members in this ‘trying time.’ But, he said, the only TV set in his house has stopped working as the recent storm adversely impacted the ‘Tata Sky dish.’ “That TV came pretty handy since we could keep the children preoccupied for the most part of the day. But, even that’s gone. We have no option but to wait until whenever the lockdown is lifted. Hope we survive the stress till then,” he said, wishing to remain anonymous.
Manoranjan Ghosh, who’s been rendered homeless due to the lockdown in Kolkata, told London’s Guardian newspaper, “I bought food and used up all my savings in the first two or three days of the lockdown. Then I sold my mobile phone to a vegetable seller to be able to sustain myself for a few more days. But now I have no money.”
Ghosh added, “I worked well and lived with dignity. Suddenly I have turned homeless and been made a beggar.”
Meanwhile, there are reports that the group of ministers headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will meet on Saturday to work out the lockdown exit strategy. Citizens will be counting days once again hoping that the Centre’s Narendra Modi government finally realises the impact of the prolonged lockdown on the country’s population and decides to lift the current restrictions soon.