Pressing reset

Paper: II

For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Context of News:

  • As India moves in to 21 day lockdown starting 24/03/2020 midnight .This past week or so, ever since the global lockdown to impede the spread of COVID-19 was initiated, a possibility has been making itself felt: Of a return to various platforms for solace and a sense of community.
  • Even as some people let their anxieties sharpen their prejudices, the uncertainty of the corona crisis, the prospect of staying indoors for days on end, may also be triggering empathy and compassion on social media. The virus has completely dismantled normalcy.
  • As covid-19 takes a firm grip over India, the central and state authorities are working in overdrive to try and curb the spread. As per latest government data, covid-19 has affected over 562 people in the country, killing ten.The Indian Centre for Medical Research (ICMR) has maintained that the virus is still in phase 2 of transmission, which means there is no evidence of local transmission yet.

What is a lockdown?

  • A lockdown is an emergency protocol that prevents people from leaving a given area. A full lockdown will mean you must stay where you are and not exit or enter a building or the given area.
  • This scenario usually allows for essential supplies, grocery stores, pharmacies and banks to continue to serve the people. All non-essential activities remain shut for the entire period.
  • India, at the moment, is not under complete lockdown. However, severe travel restrictions have been imposed on some states, and public places have been shut. Rail, intercity bus services have been suspended throughout the country.

How to cope up with Lockdown?

  • Eat:
  • Cooking in the time of quarantine has become a thing. With ingredients getting sold out, or people going into lockdown mode, many are inventing and sharing inventive recipes through social media platforms.
  • Watch:
  • This is the perfect time to binge-watch all our favourite shows. It’s good to take a mental break from all the news about the pandemic. Some may call it escapism, but switching off can be good for your mental health.
  • Read:
  • The lockdown is a great time to catch up on reading. Books open up whole new worlds, and change the way you explore different spaces, books not only provide you knowledge but it provides you new dimension of life.

Why Lock down is necessary?

  • The way we conduct ourselves in these 21 days will be critical in our fight against the corona virus. A 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 25. As PM underlined, stringent social distancing and staying within the Lakshman Rekha of our homes is the only prevention against the coronavirus, the only way to break its transmission cycle.
  • This virus is explosive when it comes to expansion. It took 67 days for the number of corona-affected persons to reach one lakh. The number of infected doubled in just 11 days and the virus infected another one lakh in merely four days.

Short term measures taken by Government:

  • Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced a slew of measures that could soften the blow of a 21-day lockdown. The deadline for filing of income taxes for the financial year 2018-19 has been extended, as has the last date for filing GST returns.
  • Sitharaman also announced that the threshold for taking companies through the insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore. This will prevent creditors from taking small and medium-sized companies, who may be facing temporary cash flow management issues due to the lockdown.
  • The Centre has also advised state governments to transfer funds to construction workers from the cess fund collected by the labour welfare boards. As PM Modi said, “21 days is a long period”. It’s now up to the authorities and the people to own and implement his message — to ensure that not just supply chains, but also social trust, isn’t broken.

Way Forward:

  • You are not alone in this long battle of lockdown as long as you have social media. Of course, there will be reason to continue to be suspicious of it — because the nature of the beast will not change no matter how many lives are disrupted. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time till everyone returns to the old ways. But till then, there is a tantalising possibility of using the space for its original purpose: To tell people that they have more in common with each other than they know.
  • There will be social and economic consequences and there will be tough challenges. But, this not the right time to speak about our hardship. We should help our frontline workers, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, expressed gratitude to safai karamcharis and praised the private sector and civil society.
  • A reworked social compact ,more compassionate will be necessary to confront the challenges posed by the lockdown. It is now up to civil society, government agencies, the healthcare and corporate sectors to take their cues from the PM’s speech and ensure that the burden of fighting the pandemic does not fall too heavily on those at the margins, the migrant and daily wage labourers, the rickshaw pullers and others for whom these 21 days could prove to be the toughest. The Centre and state governments will need to work together, setting aside their political differences, to ensure that there is no shortage of essential commodities and the supply chains are not broken.

Under threat of corona virus, diseases of racism and intolerance

Paper: II

For Mains: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Context of News:

  • Amidst such national health emergency crisis, the North-eastern people have come under sharp attack across different parts of the country due to their “Chinese looking” features. The latest incident has been reported from New Delhi’s Vijay Nagar area, wherein a student from Manipur was spat on by an unidentified man on Janata Curfew Day.
  • As India inches towards a possibly more intense phase of the corona virus pandemic, a related and sadly predictable phase of a disease of another sort may be kicking in — there have been reports that people from the Northeast are being scapegoat, and professionals at the frontline of the battle are being discriminated against, or are being given empty accolades instead of material help.

Reasons for Rising Intolerance among Communities:

  • There is a feeling that extremist religious ideologies and violent forces on the right have overshadowed the idea of a liberal, tolerant society envisioned by India’s founding fathers. A new Hindu assertiveness and so-called cleansing of Western cultural influences is steadily gaining ground, whereby intolerant forces, propped up by the political class, are determined to put rationalists and liberals in their place.
  • Denial of basic human needs such as education, employment etc. If combined with the literature review conducted we can see that survival needs fulfilment is the innate requirement of all human beings and its denial causes people to become frustrated and unhappy. When feelings of dissatisfaction build up, people stop thinking rationally and become emotional. These negative emotions are vent out in the form of anger at others.
  • Lack of proper role by teachers in developing and grooming their students. The children start schools at a tender age of 4 years to 5 years and spend nearly a third of their day with teachers for 12 years of their lives. This is the period when the character, habits and personality of the students are forming for the better or worse.
  • Support of extremist political parties which promote use of weapons to resolve all issues. This is common in countries like Pakistan due to weak law and order situation and corrupt systems.
  • Distance from religion and wrong interpretation of certain religion. Religion provides humans with guidelines to survive and makes humans fear a superior power. The fear prevents people from hurtful acts to themselves or to others. Furthermore, a lot of intolerance in the country is being propagated in the name of religion.

Impact of Hatred/Intolerance towards other communities:

  • Discrimination has direct consequences on those people and groups being discriminated against, but it has also indirect and deep consequences on society as a whole. A society where discrimination is allowed or tolerated is a society where people are deprived from freely exercising their full potential for themselves and for society.
  • Rising hate against other communities can led to massive impoverishes plaguing our nation which can seriously damage the pace of growth going forward and prevent us from realising our potential.
  • Economic growth will be impacted if “rising intolerance, social instability, hate-crimes, violence against women, moral policing, caste and religion based violence and many other sorts of intolerance are rampant across the country,” are not contained to ensure social harmony.

Way Forward:

  • The trigger may be new but the fault lines, and the intolerance that they frame, are old. The popularity of whitening creams exposes the racism that underpins large sections of society, for instance, and in several cities, perceptions of purity has lead to such unacceptable and inhumane treatment towards other community.
  • We (in India) cannot simultaneously sell ourselves to the world as a land of pluralism, tolerance and Gandhianism, while promoting intolerance, communal hatred and minority insecurity within the country. It is time that India realise that, we cannot promote ‘Make in India’ abroad while condoning the propagation of ‘Hate in India’ at home.
  • Assistance should be given to the universities in deciding the course of action they can take for grooming and churning out empowered youth that help create communities which are resistant to extremism and are capable of protecting the rights of the weak members of the society (who are vulnerable to being misled).
  • Encourage extra-curricular activities such as debates, speeches and sports competitions among varsities to promote tolerance of opposing views and cooperation within the different sects of our society. It will provide the guidelines to the experts to streamline the institutions. It will remind students the value of living in their own country that respects individual liberty, freedom of expression and religious belief, and the rule of law.
  • There needs to be constant, sustained, legal and political struggle against the myriad fascist organizations and groups who thrive under the current regime. Dealing with pandemics does not only consist of isolating and treating the sick. That is the job of specialists. The pain of social disruption often surpasses the effect of the disease itself, as families lose loved ones, breadwinners lose livelihoods, structural relations collapse and general insecurity sets in. These scars can only be healed by a society that holds together, instead of seeking scapegoats to vent its anxieties on.