File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image: Northeast Now
File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The grim, gloomy, nay, pitch black COVID-19 landscape in Assam today might have been several times healthier had the Centre been endowed with political and administrative sagacity anchored on commitment to welfare of the teeming crores.

Unfortunately for Assam and for that matter for the whole of India, the Centre by announcing the first lockdown with just three to four hours notice on March 24 made the mightiest of blunder.

India is a nation of 1.3 billion people and a notice of 3 to 4 hours before midnight is neither sufficient nor convenient for people to make way even to their home districts within the same State.

This makes it clear as daylight that the god-fathers at the Centre were not, are not and perhaps may never be aware of the sorry plight of the multitude reeling on a daily basis amidst acute economic hardship even during normal times.

In Assam the pandemic scenario was clearly under control till the Centre took the suicidal decision of flinging open the flood gates to facilitate the movement of stranded people from one end of the country to another.

This exodus in lakhs statistically proved to be accelerating transmission of COVID-19 to Assam from states which had by then already become corona hotspots.

At the ground level it turned out to be an action of pulling down all barriers for unobstructed spread of the killer virus with galloping momentum in Assam.

As of now, the damage caused on the novel coronavirus landscape appears to be not only beyond control but could also possibly be irreparable.

The chain of lockdowns, followed by some relaxations, re-imposition of total lockdown, clamping of total curfew again, non-stop hike in thousands of COVID-19 positive cases in a routine manner in Assam, is a clear pointer as to how directionless, idealess and confused the government has turned out to be while the sufferings of the people know no bound on account of the by now clearly proven utter failure of the Centre in the fight against the pandemic.

The situation has been further compounded and worsened by by some confused orders issued by the Assam Government.

If the Centre and the Assam government had some degree of political acumen and pro-commoner economic wisdom, this State would have been much better placed economically as well as in respect of the fight against the pandemic.

In the first place the Centre announced the lockdown at a hugely wrong moment.

Around the time in early February when US President Donald Trump came to India to sell defence items worth multi-billion dollars, the Government of India should have banned international flights and all maritime activities and sea voyage to India.

This should have been followed by an announcement with three to four weeks notice that lockdown across the whole country would come into force with effect from an appointed date.

This would have given the people to move to their states in a systematic manner although the rush would have been huge.

This would have clearly prevented the gushing flood of COVID-19 to Assam as had happened in May-June.

Alas, that was not to be.

Around the time, COVID-19 began its explosive aggression to assume the shape of a pandemic in the country, the Centre acted like a catalyst for the spread of the virus by launching its programme of sending lakhs of migrant workers and others stranded in various parts of the country to their home states, including Assam.

What followed was the arrival of lakhs in Assam from various parts of the country which in turn led to out-break of novel coronavirus in the state in pandemic form.

No ultra rightist government anywhere in the world can have an iota of the pulse of the workers/labour class.

For an ultra rightist a worker is just another tool of production for the economic growth of the wealthy employer class.

But when the lockdown brought all economic activities to a grinding halt and squeezed the national coffer which had already been sliding downwards under an increasing economic slowdown for almost a year even prior to the advent of the killer virus, it dawned upon the Delhi God-fathers that revival of the economy must begin forthwith.

The central heavyweights also realized that for economic activities to take off, the tool called labour force must be available.

With the economy nose-giving towards its nadir, the central heavyweights had no option other than facilitating crores of migrant workers (a term used by the Centre) to reach home.

It may be noted that till then tens of thousands of workers stranded in different parts of the country were compelled to pass their days sans daily requirement of food, water and other essentials.

The situation was further worsened by their lack of income.

As pointed out earlier, squeezed between the devil and the deep sea, the Centre had no option but to decide on injecting some life to the shattered economy by resumption of economic activities.

And thus, to get the wheels of the economy rolling, the central big wigs took the decision of transporting lakhs of workers free of cost in thousands of trains across the length and breadth of India.

Considering the decision from the employer-employee angle, the move was motivated by the ultra rightist government’s keen interest for the economic growth of the employer class that needs its tools, including the labour calss, in place to get going.

As pointed out earlier, till this migration took place the COVID-19 scenario in Assam was fairly under control and not at all alarming.

But in the wake of the migration, the COVID-19 landscape in Assam began changing for the worse by leaps and bounds.

Today, while the number of new positive cases rise even by over a thousand a day on certain days, the total COVID-19 positive is rapidly closing towards the 30,000 mark.

At this rate, mathematically speaking, sometime in September Assam is likely to witness one lakh COVID-19 positive cases.

Had the Centre and the Assam government some measure of economic wisdom in the national sense (considering that the multitude in India live a bare hand-to-mouth existence) and some knowledge of the unbearable hardship suffered by the labour class despite shedding tons of toil and sweat, the grim scenario that rules the roost in the state today would not have emerged.

Today, Assam is suffering because of ultra rightist attitude and policy adopted by the Centre and the ‘Yes Sir’ approach of the Dispur Sultans.

The outcome being that today novel coronavirus is seemingly knocking at the doorstep of every home while the economy continues with its nose-diving plunge to the rock bottom.


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