TODAY -

Easing curbs as cases spiral
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: January 22, 2022 -



BY allowing shops in the commercial hubs of Thangal and Paona bazar to operate on all days except Sunday, the government of Manipur seems to be sending out the message that ensuring continuation of livelihood activities is more important than according importance to the threat posed to public health amid the rapidly increasing cases of Covid-19.

With exception of the government employees, who have been receiving monthly salary without any deduction even if almost all the departments operated with half the capacity of the employees and sluggish official procedures when imposition of lockdowns and curfews or minor containment measures were perceived as the best means to break the chain of virus transmission in between April 2000 and October 2021, it was the commoners in lakhs who were hit the hardest as a consequence of the intermittent derailment of normal trade and commerce activities in the state.

As majority of the population is bereft of regular income, running small businesses and working as daily wagers have been the primary sources of livelihood and mainstay of the state's economy.

The sheer number of street vendors in the main commercial hub and flea markets in the twin capital city testifies that there are thousands struggling every day to make both ends meet.

Thus, the government's decision to do away with the roster system and extend the operating hours of commercial establishments might be on the premise that disrupting normal chores wouldn't go down well with the general population, especially since the assembly election is just round the corner.

While the decision appears to be in sync with the Union government's stand that the pandemic situation cannot be a reason for halting sustenance of life and livelihood, under no circumstance should the prevailing pandemic situation be relegated as further deterioration of the health crisis will eventually force the authorities to adopt draconian measures to prevent collapse of the health system.

With the state's sample testing and vaccination rates nothing to write about in-spite of the increasing number of vectors, one could only hope that the policy to exempt livelihood activities from the Covid-19 preventive measures is not misinterpreted by the public as cessation of the threat perception.

With momentum of campaign for the ensuing assembly elections certain to pick up pace as and when the political parties announce their respective candidates, there is strong possibility that all the safety protocols would be flouted resulting in worsening of the situation.

Regardless of the Election Commission of India advising governments of Punjab and Manipur, which have lowest vaccination rate among the poll-bound states, to take up special measures to accelerate the inoculation exercise before the polls, there is no way that the state could reach anywhere near the target as more than half of the eligible citizens are not showing any enthusiasm to take the jabs.

On its part, the ECI stressed on improvement in the vaccination to consider relaxation on rallies and campaigns, but deferment of the polls is most unlikely as was evident when by-elections and assembly elections in some states were held despite warnings by health experts.



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