Combating Covid 19: As India Moves From Janatha Curfew to Complete Close Down, What About Medi-Care and Food For People?
After today’s complete close down, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab have announced complete close down, while Odisha, some other states partial close down till 31st March, and indefinite close down of all districts from where Covid 19 cases are reported. All train and metro services and inter-state buses in many states are closed down till 31st March. Vast majority of the millions of migrant workers returned to their homes. Almost all construction work, small and medium industries, malls, shops and other sectors are closed down. As a result almost 90% of the workers in these sectors and their families have become penniless. But unlike his counterparts from other countries, the prime minister Modi, who addressed the people for 30 minutes on 19th March, while calling for janatha Curfew and not to panic, did not announce any economic package for atleast providing food and medi-care including extensive medical checks to find the extend of Corona virus spread among the people. Except very few states, other state governments also have not come forward to do so.
It is a matter of common knowledge that after the imposition of the neoliberal policies in 1991, if the cutting down of welfare policies including rations were started, after Modi rule started in 2014 whatever such welfare measures remained were also drastically cut down. The budget allotment for MNREGA was further cut in this budget.
Unemployment had already reached a 45 year old record. In this situation, more than 50% of the 1.34 billion people will be facing a horrific situation if immediate ration and medi-care are not provided.
CPI(ML) Red Star demands that the central and state governments should announce an immediate relief package for the economically backward sections of people, the landless and house-less people urgently. The managements and the contractors under whom they were working should be asked to pay them wages for coming few months. All the families of low income groups should be allowed delayed payment of bills of essential services. The angan-vadies and the primary schools should be asked to continue food distribution even though they are closed.
We appeal to all the political parties, trade unions and other mass organizations, and all progressive forces to take initiative to put pressure on the central and state governments to take immediate measures wherever such initiative is not taken already by the government agencies. If such an initiative is not taken urgently, more people will die due to starvation, or due to suicides, than due to Covid 19.
K N Ramachandran
CPI(ML) Red Star
22nd March, 2020