Home Sweet Home vis-a-vis the Lockdown Exodus

Paojakhup Guite *

 Trains from Chennai with 1140 on board Shramik Special train reach Jiribam on May 13 2020
Trains from Chennai with 1140 on board Shramik Special train reach Jiribam on May 13 2020 :: Pix - TSE

The global infamous COVID-19 has gripped humanity with two extraordinary sufferings: while some people suffer from the ordeals of the pandemic, others the orders of the lockdowns. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic disease, which is caused by a novel coronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2).

The lockdowns spawned by the pandemic have back-to-back been imposed thrice. The orders and ordeals have stretched out to over forty days and forty nights in toto, leaving us to our fate.

Humankind does not have the immunity or antibodies or antigens so as to practically endure through the pestilence and hunger marathon. Nor can we starve, excepting a divine intervention. We are not prophets, but merely believers, if not atheists or agnostics.

The lockdown in its third phase has wreaked mind havoc. The first two too were of great existential threats both in and out-stomach half-filled, at best for some hapless people, and social life brought to a screeching halt in general. Changing its paradigm, Lockdown 3.0 has shifted its affects.

That, now it has sensitised human mind to one emotional romanticizing that is, developing a sense of familial love, especially to those who are being stranded or have stayed outside their home. Similarly, family members back home are no less eager for reintegration with their stranded kith and kin. Fingers crossed, they are now being taken home by country roads! This is the sweetness of home.

Fear and Fare: Beyond Politics

Fear overwhelmed the psychosis. Up till Lockdown 3.0, we saw no sign of progress. The pandemic outbreak containment curve continues to rise exponentially on a daily basis unabatedly. Till date, the recovery rate has reached 31.74%.

However, this gives no rest to the people either, and their mind raged with sleepless night. The fatality rate stands at 3.2 %( Acc. to the Union Home Ministry report). Their home-sickness was at its apogee.

The Central Government stands by its aggrieved citizens across the country. It provides an enabling environment. The State Governments with the Centre work in unison cutting across political lines. Logistic supports are being arranged across the country. Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre failed to assure the returnees of their logistic charges and fares while made announcement.

They drew flaks from the Opposition parties. The Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi took advantage of this loophole to render her Good Samaritan works to the returnees by giving them financial supports.

Immediately, in retaliation the Centre calibrated its decision and came up with another sort of helping hand to contribute 85% of the returnees’ fare expenses. In this way, fortunately or unfortunately the returnees fell victim to politicisation on issues of train fares.

The fare friction is fair. This shows a sign of a mature democracy. This backlash between the BJP and Congress cannot be construed as a political vendetta. India exhibits its maturity in democracy in this hour of global health crisis. For a governance to be efficient, effective and robust in democracy, Opposition has a humongous task. By doing so, Opposition keeps government in the right track.

That’s why Opposition is also sometimes known as Shadow Cabinet (Britain). Therefore, with these proactive steps of both the Government and the Opposition, the stranded passengers have the chance to travel with a smile on their faces. Their fear psychosis is all gone and hoping to hitch a ride back to their home town.

Home and House

Human beings are pilgrims for the family, or home for that matter. We leave home for a certain prospect in the hope that we could bring back some sort of blessings which are beneficial to the family members. Since pre-historic times, human beings practised hunting of animals and gathering of food items. Ever since they had a sedentary life, they started to enjoy the fruit of their hard labour at home.

Similarly, in modern times, we leave our home for outside to explore new worlds other than hunting and gathering alike. We enjoy these showers of blessings with our family members. Apart from our family members, we can also share our blessings to the needy and near & dear ones. Thus, the adage, “Charity begins at home”, meaning that a person’s first responsibility is for the needs of their own family and friends.

In the simplest term, home can be defined as family members, while house means the physical structure or platform wherein we stay.

But, this time situations are weird. Our minds are reined in more by suspicions than expectations. To reach home is their expectations and we should not be hesitant to welcome them with open arms.

Fate and Faith

In this uncertain period of COVID-19 outbreak, the poor are always at the receiving end and seem to be nearing their fate. But, they have the faith that they do not abjectly surrender to this seeming fate, not to die hunger.

Vulnerable to fate are not only the poor, but humanity as a whole. The deadly novel coronavirus does not caste us. Nor does it cast its eyes on humanity based on the rich, poor or creed.

The common fate all human beings have is death (God forbids!). This mortal human body might be disposed of in any form with or without certain cultural rites and rituals. Disposal could be through burial or cremation or any other forms. To perform this rite, we need home. COVID-19 has taken a toll of lives where family members are not allowed to participate in the funeral.

Only medical doctors, paramedics and few select people participate in the funeral. This is the very pain humanity feels, because no decent funeral can take place according to one’s customary rite. This acts as an alarm in the people’s mind to rush towards home so that we can reunite with our family members both awesome and oddsome times.

Global to Local

Early 1990s, India was proud of the rising high tide of globalisation. This was considered a breakthrough as far as its economy was concerned. It tried to join the elite club of global powers. At the turn of the 21st century, globalisation brought with it huge impacts to India in myriad ways. Economy was growing in leaps and bounds. Exports were sky-rocketed.

Industries, factories and various multi-national companies (MNC) were mushrooming in the country. Service sector made a significant headway, thus employment rate was encouraging. Migration pattern changed. In-Migration within the country was at its record high. Rural seasonal labours migrate to towns and cities and eke out their living.

However, upon the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, growth trajectories and migration pattern have become otherwise. Globalisation is back to her village. A huge chunk of migrant workers have taken every risk to reach their natal villages by hook or by crook. Hundreds trudge along the road with pit stops en route. The Centre is mulling over prioritisation of indigenous goods.

Swadeshi politics has always been a cherished dream of the current dispensation at the Centre. Modiji and his stooge Amith Shahji are working hard to make the country self-reliant and be more vocal about (being) local. A Rs. 20 lakh crore is just a beginning of this venture.

Therefore, while a mass exodus is happening proper care has to be taken. The receiving states should not be hesitant to accept them, because this is unavoidable circumstance happening out of their love affairs with their home.

Destination accommodations have to be well managed with strict protocols. Home quarantine won’t do. A minimum of 14-day community quarantine has to be undertaken by the Government. Before we receive them, we wish them a happy and safe journey.

Bon voyage and Godspeed!

* Paojakhup Guite wrote this article for Imphal Times and The Sangai Express
The writer is a resident of Saihenjang, CCpur
This article was webcasted on May 17 2020.

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