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Life Or Livelihood?

Life Or Livelihood?

The manner in which the all-pervading pandemic has taken its toll on humanity is indicative of the fact that henceforth things will never be the same again. While narrations abound of nature’s ‘rejuvenation’ during the pandemic times with the human beings having been taught a lesson or two about living in harmony with it, there is a now lot of uncertainty about their lives and livelihoods.

Although the government has tried obfuscating the problem with extraneous information, people have come to realize that matters are way beyond its control now. For one the fight against the unknown assailant demands perseverance. It is only through a series of tests and trials that the government can arrive at a sure shot method to contain and mitigate the virulent effects of Coronavirus.

Meanwhile the search for the antidote will continue undeterred. Moreover, the country is not a Goliath of economic muscle and might. COVID-19 has further battered its economy beyond recognition. Hampered by restrictions, business and commercial activities are yet to take off full-steam after the lockdown. Jobs are thus hard to come by. Lay-offs and ‘desertions’ by the migrant workers has contributed hugely to the economic misery experienced.

For that matter, a return home for the thousands of migrants from cities and towns too has not been a favourable proposition with many of them staring at joblessness in their home states. Just as much as the exodus of the migrants is a cause of concern for states effectively employing them, the return of the natives is not without its share of worries for their parent states as well.

And their gainful employment forms the crux of the problems! Every aspect of life has thus been disagreeably touched by the invisible blight. With the virus having obliterated any chance of an early respite from the miserable situation, it could well herald an unpleasant scenario where the society will soon see a sudden spurt in criminal activities.

In Goa too it is pretty much the same scenario!

The Santa Cruz shootout last month, although alleged to be a fallout of a rivalry between two gangs, is a precursor of the worsening situation that will soon have the state in a vice-like grip. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted crime and illicit economies. Besides thefts and robberies, online crime and illegal markets have thrived.

Initially during the pandemic, crimes rates in Goa had shown an appreciable drop. While the stay-home mantra generally prevented break-ins and burglaries, the severities of the restrictions imposed during the lockdown on the other hand presented a galore of opportunities for tricksters to ply their trade.

Unemployment will breed crime and with avenues already existing for a novice’s foray into the world of crime, it is not only the coronavirus that the state will have to contend with. With effective measures in place for managing the pandemic - and with professionals handling it - the government could well turn its attention to equally pressing matters that cannot be ignored any longer.

It would be wrong to say that the state is not affected by the ‘home-coming’ of  Goemkars who migrated to other parts of the country, and abroad, for better career prospects. It has, and to the extent of denting its economy further! Creation of jobs should assume significance from now on. And for that to happen, the state has to devise ways to reopen its economy. With easing of restrictions on almost all business sectors, this is possible.

Magnifying a few as income-grossers while looking at the others through a microscope of distrust, the state cannot expect to achieve much by way of economic rejuvenation. At the same time, the government needs to build up a stronger resistance to public and political criticism and decide that if it is to concern itself with the lives and livelihoods of its people, some unorthodox methods are to be adopted.

Enough of awareness has been brought about among the public about COVID and the harmful implications of violating the safety measures prescribed to combat it.

But a quick glance around the markets and other public places in the state dispels any notion of the state being in the grips of a deadly pandemic. Always teeming with people, stay-home diktat appears to be falling on deaf-ears. 

How long can the government continue with the ‘marshalling’ of its errant citizens and penalize them for their demeanours with respect to the pandemic when they are adamant on doing what pleases them! With such an attitude in evidence, it does appear that the people are well capable of taking care of themselves.

The public reaction to the high spike in the daily report of infections thus appears to be a contrived emotion to the grim scenario where in fact a bit of prudence on their part would have drastically impeded the lethal rampage of the virus. With such a mindset, it is difficult to perceive any good coming of the concerted efforts by the government to save the lives of its people during the pandemic.

But yes, save livelihoods, it can - and it should!

The health scare brought about by the coronavirus has snowballed into a fiscal catastrophe of devastating proportions. Yet, there are objections from various quarters whenever attempts are made to consider any economic revival in the times of the pandemic.  

Brooding and complaining over the inevitable conditions brought about by the government’s efforts to neutralize the effects of the potent virus needs to be shunned at all costs. But then that has always been the extent of public appreciation! It is a situation that will soon change – that is what the whole world is fighting for! Let us learn to safeguard ourselves against the microscopic villain; the government will find ways to revive the economy!

(Published on 24th August 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 35)