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The Financial Express

Now, it is lockdown  

| Updated: April 07, 2021 21:40:06


Now, it is lockdown   

By all means enforcement of lockdown is a tricky issue. A complete lockdown is simply impossible for understandable reasons. So during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it was euphemistically called a 'general holiday' that had to be extended several times. Will the week-long ongoing lockdown differ from the earlier stay-at-home type or be stricter? The practice of identification, contact tracing, testing and quarantining hardly received any attention for arresting the spread of the disease at that time. Now accomplishing any such task proves impossible because for long people have thrown caution into the wind and defied most health protocols recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). If this is the main stumbling-block on the way of bringing under control the infection and death, the other problem concerns people with small means who depend on their daily wages or income. No, in Bangladesh some ultra-rights groups like those in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have not brought out rallies protesting home confinement; instead the poor have suffered silently.

If the lockdown becomes protracted, not only the poor but lower middle class and even middle class people will also bear the brunt because people could not recover from the earlier losses suffered. Counting on generosity of the better placed in society and charity organisations is unlikely to be very reasonable because all have diminished their funds and got little time to replenish those. As for the rich and superrich who had their wealth ballooned during the pandemic could really come forward to help the needy but for the proverbial lack of generosity on their parts. There are not many Warren Buffets and Bill Gates even in America. If the wealthy people do not come forward in a worst case scenario, the government alone will not be able to take care of the hapless people.

This time the situation is set against the foreground of the arrival of Ramzan --the month of siam for the Muslims the world over. The holy occasion has hardly ever deterred traders of profiteering motive from fleecing consumers immediately before and during this month. Reports on the market situation are conflicting. A segment of the media claims that the wholesale markets have adequate stocks of the commodities in high demand and reduced prices because of price fall of those items in the international market. Whilst another section points out the usual market volatility during this time around.

When many people's survival is at stake, particularly working-class people living in urban centres, any price escalation will prove to be a double blow to them. Their mass exodus towards village homes only confirms their apprehension. The holy month offers the well-off people an opportunity to share with the poor only a part of their fortune. This is ordained from the religious point of view as also from the humanitarian point of view. Already left to bled, the world will be grievously wounded by the fresh spate of virus infection. Bangladesh weathered the first wave of the pandemic quite admirably, let it do so during its second edition as well. This will call for all-out cooperation between the government, the people and the international community.  

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