Unenviable world record for India Free hand to business sharks

    23-Apr-2021
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A world record it is and there is nothing to indicate that it will stop here. India is certainly living up to the earlier prognosis, when the attention of the world was tuned onto Wuhan in China and Italy, that it would be mayhem if and once the virus lands in the country. A 24 hour jump of 3,18,835 positive cases and with this have come many stories of hospitals running out of beds, running out of oxygen supply, of unaccounted fatalities and many more heart rending stories of the sick and dying left to fend for themselves. This is how the spread of the virus in the second wave is unfolding across the country and Manipur too is now witnessing a slow but gradual return to the days when the number of positive cases on a single day was reported in the three digit figures. As in the first spell of the virus, the State Government has gone ahead and ordered the closure of the three Ima Keithels for ten days and ordered that shops at Paona Keithel and Thangal Keithel should open on rotational basis. Nothing wrong with the steps of the Government but again as in the past, some business sharks have emerged this time too and suddenly prices of all essential items have jumped considerably. Order the closure of the three Ima Keithels and order that shops at Paona Keithel and Thangal Keithel open on rotational basis and one wonders whether there is a link between the prices of the essential commodities and the closure of the three Ima Keithels. This is where the hands of some business sharks become apparently very visible. And to think that this is the reality when there is as yet no official lockdown and the picture becomes more grim. The Government should have foreseen such an ugly development. Along with the order to close the three Ima Keithels, the Government too should have taken the needed steps to fix the prices of essential commodities. Not that this would effectively put a check on the rising prices of goods, but at least the consumers will know how much they are being over charged or cheated of.
The present situation is something which should have been foreseen. As repeatedly said many times in this column the lull in the number of new cases some time back did not mean that the virus has been reined in. This is where it would be interesting to see if the State Government had  taken up any steps to tackle the likely situation that would unfold here. How well equipped are the hospitals ? How about oxygen supply ? Has the Government done anything positive to stock up on the oxygen supply in anticipation of the worst ? This question is important given that many hospitals spread across the country are reported to be falling short on oxygen supply. How about hospital beds ? Will the existing capacity at RIMS, JNIMS and the district hospitals be enough to accommodate the patients ? Granted, not all those who test positive would need to be hospitalised or be on ventilator, but one cannot take any chances. The Government should be ready for any eventuality. This is the bottomline. With the number of people testing positive for the virus increasing and nearing the three figure mark,  one can expect more restrictions but along with placing restrictions on the movement of the people, it would do well for the Government too to put in place a mechanism to check the arbitrary rise in prices of essential commodities. The poor have already suffered enough and they should not be bled by the sharks who are out there to capitalise on the misery of the people.