In the media discussions on the novel coronavirus numbers and testing, on public health mismanagement, on the suffering of migrant workers and on the unplanned lockdown, one issue has missed the headlines — the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act Programme, better known by the acronym MGNREGA.
Perhaps the most tragic and disheartening aspect of India’s battle against the novel Coronavirus pandemic has been the fate of migrant workers – those stranded in another state, suddenly without a job, a livelihood or even a roof above. It was clear from moment one that migrant workers had to go home. This was an economic and emotional necessity. They needed to feel secure in their native villages and with their families. Since a lockdown was announced with only four hours’ notice, this was not done. And a summer’s sordid tragedy began to play itself out. It was so avoidable. MPs were given 48 hours to fly home from Delhi – but guest workers, at the bottom of the pyramid, were given only four hours!
Cyclone Amphan is simply the biggest natural disaster seen in this lifetime for many. It is believed to be the most devastating cyclone to hit Bengal since 1737, almost 300 years ago and well before the Battle of Plassey. The damage the cyclone inflicted upon Kolkata has been well recorded. Human lives have been lost and families and communities disrupted. Property has been destroyed. Key infrastructure has been crippled. Tall, proud trees, decades or even a century old, have been uprooted brutally.
Already battling the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), West Bengal has been battered by Cyclone Amphan. While preparatory arrangements and evacuations of five lakh people by the state government ensured that the loss of life was minimised, the devastation suffered by families and the damage to public and private properties as well as the ecology of Bengal has been incalculable. The cyclone is a national calamity. In this hour of pain and tragedy, Bengal seeks everyone’s cooperation. All stakeholders, state and central, have to come together to provide relief and solace to those who are suffering.
The BJP government at the Centre owes the country many answers on its handling of the pandemic
Earlier this week, all of us woke up to a nightmare – to the horrific news of 17, at last count, migrant workers being run over by a goods train in Aurangabad. They were walking home, hundreds of miles, from Maharashtra to their villages in Madhya Pradesh. Exhausted, they had dropped to sleep on the tracks and hadn’t heard the train coming.
At 10:10 am on April 20, a cargo plane landed in Kolkata carrying government officials from Delhi. These were the Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs), allegedly sent on a monitoring mission to assess the COVID-19 situation in seven districts of Bengal. On paper, that would appear to be an above board, routine public health exercise. In reality, it was part of a sinister political move.
r since the COVID-19 crisis acquired a serious dimension, many of the discussions and efforts have been on a unified, coordinated strategy against the pandemic and much of the political scoring has been left for another day.
society. The implications will be far-reaching and some of them are still beyond our comprehension. But some practices we have either adopted or avoided in the past few days will become part of this new normal.
The COVID-19 crisis is a genuine national crisis. Why do I use the adjective “genuine”? This is because most “national” crises in our country emotionally affect all of India but physically or tangibly affect only a part of it. A case in point could be a cyclone, an earthquake, an insurgency or even a war. The COVID-19 pandemic is different. It has affected every single state. From Kashmir to Kerala, the Northeast to the western coast, every local administration has been galvanised.