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When lockdown is withdrawn


With the current countrywide lockdown,  which was declared to prevent the Covid pandemic, being slated to end on 14th of this month,  policy making circles have already started deliberations on how things are to be run after that.  The prime minister himself, during the video conferencing session with chief ministers, was not prepared to state clearly whether the lockdown will end or not as scheduled  on 14th.  At the same time he indicated that depending on the local situation in each state,  lock down could be withdrawn in phases.  Even before the Centre announced the lockdown,  in Kerala it had started at a moderate scale.   Although lockdown does cause big disruptions in daily life and economic activity,  the world has come to accept it as the most effective means of defending against Covid.

The reason why developed countries like Italy, Spain,  Britain and America look stumped before the pandemic is that they all were late to enter this path of prevention. And the US president,  who had at one point even scoffed at the idea of lockdown and said that restrictions should be lifted before Easter,  had eventually to change his word,  clearly out of the realization that Covid was not as simple a matter as thought.  That also means the defensive course we took in India  is being proved right.  As for Kerala,  it has become even a model for the country.  Compared to other states,  we have been able to move ahead  thanks to the prudent steps taken with a clear vision of what is to come.  Certainly those who gave intellectual and administrative lead in this deserve kudos.

Perhaps the biggest impact of the lockdown was felt in the industrial and production sector which in turn will give a lethal blow to the economy.   Therefore,  the economic scene post-lockdown is a matter to be managed with great care.  It would be an ardous task to take our economy back to the earlier stage,  especially when the unorganised sector and enterprises would find it hard to stand erect once again.   The jolt suffered by the economy and production, however constitutes only one aspect of the situation.  There are scores of environmental activists and scientists who rejoice at the fact that it would at the same time create positive results for the environment and ecology.   The days of lockdown are also marked by phenomena such as:  aerial routes became empty for the first time since man's invention of aeroplane,  roads without smoke-spewing vehicles,  seas and canals where vessels ceased plying and days without smoke pipes emitting spurious gases.   It is natural that the standstill condition would greatly help in stabilising the environment.  The lockdown is also leading mankind to a new life style in his being able to do many things that he could not do otherwise.  These are times when man learned that he can avoid many of the extravagances once thought unavoidable.  Thus the pandemic has been able to lead man to a new way of life.  And if it is possible for man to carry on with the positive elements of it in post-lockdown era too,  that would be of immense value to humankind itself.

What the prime minister talked about was withdrawing lockdown in phases. An immediate relapse to the earlier state would be insane.  On the other hand,  reducing lockdown restrictions gradually in each area would do good for disease prevention as also for the subsequent living pattern. If people surge in a stream en masse back to the old order,  as if from an instantly unlocked dam,   that is sure to create formidable complications.  For that very reason, the withdrawal of lockdown is a step to be gone through with as much caution as enforcing lockdown.

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