Corona Crisis: Tale of Sona, Ram, Uttam and others

Gautam Kumar Das

Surprised into an indiscretion, Sona first left his roadside tea stall, then managed one bag of potato and another bag of onion and continued selling of that potato-onion for the months of March-April 2020, but he didn’t attract buyers. Sona, the roadside tea stall owner, thereafter, is seen to wander here and there on the months of May and June like a solitary wayfarer. Right now Sona starts his tea stall again, where both the tea-maker and the tea-takers (mostly labourers and auto rickshaw drivers) are seen without wearing a mask, perhaps raising a symbolic protest against social distancing and lock down.  These labour class including migrant labourers lashed out against the authorities of the state and central government on the issue of lock down and social distancing without creating any job or paying financial assistance to them.

Ram, a tailor by profession, is another example of local economy slowdown. Ram partnered with Robiul (a vegetable vendor from Krishnamohan) who studded his vegetables, greens and guava in front of the Ram’s tailoring shop as nobody has come to Ram to tailor shirts and trousers during the last five months. Previously, Ram was not only busy with his tailoring business on the months of August-September before the puja festival, but he was engaged with the dress-making by spinning his tailoring machine round the year.

Uttam, the coconut and green coconut vendor, vanished from the market place since 25 March, 2020, the day of the announcement of lock down centrally. Ranjan, friend of Uttam and a co-vendor informs that Uttam has to pay at least thousand rupees if he wants to come to Garfa market from a remote village stood under Magrahat Pocice Station. Even Uttam has to wake up from the bed as early as 3 am in the night to attend the market by 6 am in the morning after coconut and green coconut being collected from the coconut trees of the neighbouring households. Same inconvenience has happened to Dinu, a vendor of vegetables and greens, who is an inhabitant of HomraPalta village under Canning II Development Block. Dinu, by nature, an honest and well-being, always with asmiling face, and used to sell all of his vegetables within two to three hours for his well-maintained behaviour, yet not attend the market place due to disruptions of the Canning local train services.

In this situation, Nada has managed a machine rickshaw van for carrying his goods for sale from a village from Baruipur Block as he is accompanied by his wife and son, who have stalls of vegetables and greens in the same market place and they sell their goods side by side. There is no information about Siuli, a fish-selling woman, upon whom, her lame husband depends who lost his left legfelling from a high-rise building during painting its outside wall. Yet Bhagani, the fruit-seller, has managed to share with her sister in the rented hut at Mandal Para adjacent to the Garfa Police Station. In the changing scenario, Kesto has changed his ferrying goods, selling from the cockroach and rat-controlling pesticide packets to selling of mask and hand-sanitizers. Like that, several tales of reality of the common people for earning their breads are beyond descriptions. Those people, in fact, are with beggars descriptions citing the examples of slowing down of the local economy.

Disruptions of local economy is the outcome of unplanned decision of lock down taken by the central government with only four hours’ notice. Government has to freeze social and economic activity in all parts of the country to combat the pandemic situations, shuttering nonessential businesses and ordering the residents of the country including the labourers and vendors to stay home, stay safe for months. This order causes extreme disruptions of the economy with the failures of local trades in the towns and metropolis. Even a central minister admitted that the COVID-19 enforced lock down results a severe economic crisis and the longer-duration of it would lead to more and more crises rather than the corona virus pandemic.

Aug 28, 2020

 Gautam Kumar Das

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