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Cruel Behaviour

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After the unavoidable nationwide lockdown, the Government has addressed the fallout on the economy with two major initiatives – the Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and the Rs 3.74 lakh crore added liquidity provided to the banking system by the RBI through a slew of measures. This comes on the back of similar anti-recession measures by other countries such as the US. The G20 has also pledged $5 trillion to combat the repercussions of the Corona Virus crisis. India and the world seem on course to emerge fighting fit after the virus has been, hopefully, subdued.

It may be noted that the corporate world began rattling the government’s doors the moment the lockdown began, for concessions and such like. Investors and speculators were quick to stampede out of the stock market to protect their ‘investments’. On the other hand, however, all these businesses were quick to lay- off workers and, at the very bottom of the economic pyramid, daily wagers were left to their own devices. This reveals the ugly side of business in India, where its nature is purely exploitative. It is not just about making profits, an entirely legitimate objective, but about the lack of humanity. With all the relaxed credit and packages provided by government, employers did not have even that iota of humanity within them to jointly and sector-wise make arrangements for those on whose shoulders their businesses have been built.

This task too has been left to the government. The daily wagers and migrant workers, denied work, financial support, boarding and lodging, have taken matters into their own hands – setting off on foot to their homes, some as much as a thousand kilometres away, since transportation of all kinds has also been shutdown. Have no doubt, having built the massive cities of concrete around the country, they have the strength to achieve even this, accompanied by their wives and children. The various state governments are waking up to this unfortunate consequence and some statements have come from chief ministers in this regard. Action has reportedly been initiated with transport being provided, but it is still not enough. It is hoped that, first, these ‘caravans’ are provided food and shelter on an immediate basis and, then, with all the necessary medical precautions taken, sent on to their native places. Uttarakhand, too, should set up a protocol in this regard so that incoming and outgoing migrants are treated in the proper manner. Otherwise, it will have all been for nothing.