Learning to live with COVID-19 : Huge impact on all
The toll is heavy and the toll should be understood beyond the number of deaths and those infected and the large scale human migration that the country has seen right after the first chapter of the Nationwide lockdown that came into force from March 25. Normalcy is yet to be restored and as many experts have put it, mankind will have to learn to live with COVID-19, the virus that causes coronavirus. Manipur has not seen huge human migration at the scale which was seen in the metros of the country, but thousands of people have started coming back from other parts of the country where they were working and studying. And it stands that positive cases of COVID-19 have been rising in direct proportion to the number of people coming back and this was something which was expected. The full impact of the lockdown will become clearer in the days to come and with petty businesses having petered out, the real ugly picture of the global pandemic will become more and more clear. Literally the lockdown must have rendered many auto-drivers, taxi drivers out of work with no earning avenue. The same fate would have befallen the numerous roadside tea stalls, the small hotels in the leiraks and leikais, the labourers, the masons, and those engaged in so many small time trades. Ironic it is, but at the same time one cannot help but note that a number of sharks could have also made a killing. Cigarettes and tobacco products are obviously not among the items included in the priority list, but the same are available in the market, all for a steep price. Even cigarettes from Myanmar are available at nearly 100 times its original price. The outrageous hike in prices of cigarettes and tobacco products has obviously not deterred the smokers for the said products continue to be sold.
A drastic hit on the lifestyle of the people, a huge blow on the economic activities of the people and not yet said as vocally but which should have drawn equal attention of the people is the education of the young students. Significant to note that the State Level Curriculum and Syllabus Committee has mooted the idea of slashing the academic period for the 2020-2021 session and while this idea is understandable, it stands that when one talks about the plight of the students, equal thoughts ought to be given to the plight of teachers, particularly teachers of private schools. As things stand, the pay of most of the private school teachers is nothing to write home about. As commented many times in this column, the poor pay of private school teachers may be directly linked to the private tuition culture prevalent in the State, particularly in Imphal. Not uncommon to see young students packed off to as many as two/three tuition classes in a day, particularly after they reach the Class IX stage. With schools closed since March, many have voiced their concern that private school teachers may not get paid during the closure period. This is something which everyone should have a second look. Many, if not all, take school fees quarterly and some even half yearly. Moreover, many of the teachers have been working in the same school for years and would it be really fair to do away with their pay at this point of time ? Do teachers get enhanced pay if there is a good collection of school fees ? Just some questions, but extremely important for all not to forget the teachers who teach the young children in private schools.