Indian Lockdown Leaves The Poor Out In The Cold

Nirendra Dev

Political decisions can often be ruthless and are rarely sympathetic. But in times of an emergency, such categorizations may defy logic. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to shut down India was such an emergency decision.

Modi gave just a four-hour notice to India's 1.3 billion people to shut down all public activities and stay inside their homes for 21 days, starting from midnight of March 24, to help fight the spread of coronavirus. Police are on the streets to implement the complete shutdown of India.

The decisive step came as positive cases of infection reached 536, with 10 deaths. The government aims to arrest "community spread" of the virus among densely populated towns and cities where the spread of the virus could spell disaster.

Anyone breaking the three-week lockdown by just coming out of their homes could be punished up to two years in jail. The stringent measures, let us hope, will check the spread of the disease.

However, there are some nagging questions. India officially has 1.77 million homeless people. They sleep on the sidewalks or in rail or bus stations. Where will they go to home quarantine themselves? How will the state check the spread of the virus among them?

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