A few days left

Just a few more days are left for the 21-day nationwide lockdown to combat Covid-19 to end. Given India’s size and complexity, it has been a success. Images from across the country show that essential products are available and essential services continue to be provided. Sure, there have been lapses and gaps, but these are entirely understandable, given the enormity of getting 1.3 billion people to follow a lockdown. This newspaper has consistently supported the need for a lockdown as the only way to help India flatten the curve. But there are areas, based on the experience of the past week, that will need work.
One, the exodus of migrant workers showed that India’s most vulnerable and poor segments of society had been hit hard by the economic disruption caused by the lockdown. The fact that arrangements to provide income, shelter and food weren’t put in place for migrant workers deepened the sense of crisis. This caused a human tragedy with thousands of migrants walking home, hundreds of kilometres away, undermining the entire logic of the lockdown and enhancing the risk of people in rural areas getting infected. It is clear that if the lockdown has to be sustainable, the government will have to ensure economic sustenance for India’s poor. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a relief package for the most vulnerable that revolves around cash and food, but more will likely be needed. Though everyone in general may support the move, still there are several lacunae which need to be corrected. In Arunachal too, the government will have to take more initiatives to make life better for the people. It has had enough time to plan, and hopefully by now it must have come up with a proper mechanism to deal with the situation if the lockdown is extended.