Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 44 lakh persons with over three lakh fatalities. India has 82000 persons infected, with 2700 fatalities. In the North East, after taking 41 days to reach 100 cases, the positive cases have doubled beyond 200 in just four days with sharp rise of cases in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created panic throughout the world with many countries locked down for months, rendering millions of persons jobless and leading to massive recession in the economy. The world witnessed panic buying, lack of medical facilities, protective gear and general helplessness. There are many important lessons to be learnt by Arunachal and the North East from the pandemic.
One major lesson is about self sufficiency in essential goods. There was panic buying and hoarding of essential food items. To be self sufficient, there is a need to set up robust agri-horticulture and food industries in the state. There was also complete lack of meat, fish and eggs, which are required for protein intake to boost immunity. The lock down revealed that even for poultry, meat, fish, eggs we are dependent on other states. There is a need to set up and support local fish farms, poultry projects, dairy farms.
There was lack of protective equipment like PPEs, sanitizers, masks, disinfectants and test kits in the entire nation. In fact, many countries, including India imported these items from China where the virus had originated. Therefore, there is a need to boost and support domestic manufacturing in the nation so that dependency on other nations is reduced. Similarly, there is a need to set up and support manufacturing units in the North East and Arunachal. There are miniscule industries in Arunachal and the North East.
Another important aspect was inadequacies in our health infrastructure. Before the pandemic, there was no ICU or ventilators in the entire state. With the threat of the disease, few ICUs with ventilators have been urgently established. However, these critical health facilities need to be improved at a rapid pace to reduce mass dependency on medical facilities outside the state.
One important lesson is the total dependence on migrants for many menial but important professions. Arunachalese are totally dependent on non-natives for construction, mechanics, welders, electricians, plumbers etc. Majority of shop keepers, whole sellers, tailors etc are non-natives. Many workers in farms are non-natives. Taking a case where these migrants also decide to leave the state, Arunachal would come to a stop. Imagine a scenario wherein we cannot repair vehicles, repair tyres, construct houses, stitch clothes. Native Arunachalese need to get skilled and adopt these important professions. Government policies and public awareness are required to push our youth to take up these professions. The Covid-19 pandemic is a big lesson for entire humanity, especially for the North East and Arunachal, to be self reliant and self sufficient. Are we ready to learn? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)