Coronavirus, lockdown, stranded people:
The talk for the past 40 days
Coronavirus. Lockdown. Number of infected. Number of deaths. Stranded people. For more than 40 days, this column has concentrated on the subjects just mentioned and it seems it will continue. And most of the articles contributed by readers, patrons and well wishers have centred around COVID-19 and the associated developments. Not surprising for after the Spanish Flu of 1918, no other virus or disease has put the entire world in such a state of uncertainty. And according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus that causes COVID-19 may be here to stay and people will have to learn to live with it much like the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Not surprising that the many developments associated with the virus have elicited different responses from different State Governments and one point that immediately comes to mind is the process of bringing back stranded people to their home States. While the Government of Manipur has gone ahead and put forward its best foot possible to bring back people of Manipur stranded in different parts of the country, neighbouring Nagaland obviously thinks differently and has even gone to the extent of stating that those who opt not to return home at this point of time would receive a one time financial assistance of Rs 10,000. Don’t think the monetary assistance will be the deciding factor, but there is certain merit in the stand of the Government of Nagaland. Encouraging people to stay put wherever they are at this point of time goes well with the spirit of the National lockdown which is most likely to be extended for the 4th time after May 17. That the stand of the Government of Nagaland has not gone down well with the Naga Hoho is plain and the stand of the Naga Hoho too is understandable.
So even as the Government of Nagaland offered Rs 10,000 as incentive to its people to stay put wherever they are, came the report of some girls from the North East who were threatened and asked to leave Bengaluru. This was not the first time and there have been cases of natives of North East being singled out, taunted, called names and even spat upon in some cities of mainland India. This was one prominent point that the Naga Hoho stressed on to oppose the decision of the Nagaland Government. On the other hand, Nagaland also seems ill prepared to open the doors to its people from other parts of the country. Remember the one person who tested positive for COVID-19 there had to be taken to Assam for treatment some time back. Moreover, reports have also come in that the neighbouring State does not have the necessary tools to conduct tests to determine whether one is COVID-19 positive or not. This means that the necessary tests will have to be conducted at either Assam or Manipur and surely in such a situation it would be foolhardy to fling its doors open to thousands of Naga people who are outside Nagaland. This is about Nagaland and while Manipur seems better placed, in so far as the preparatory steps against COVID-19 is concerned, the Government at Imphal will need to acknowledge the good point in the decision of Nagaland. As things stand, it is not clear how well equipped are the different quarantine centres set up across the districts. The picturesque quarantine huts set up at Tungjoy at Senapati is no doubt welcome and pleasing but the same cannot be said for all the other quarantine centres. Moreover one should not forget that the virus is still out there and a single wrong step can put Manipur back on the map of COVID-19.