Views & Reviews
The Other Virus
The total lockdown of India by GOI for the next three weeks is in continuation of the lockdown ordered by the State Govt. of Nagaland is the best way to isolate and mitigate the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic. It is indeed frightening to know what the death rates in Italy, Spain and the meteoric spread of the disease in USA are at the moment. Unless the Nagaland Govt. puts its best effort to arrest the spread of the disease, once it is allowed, it will be almost impossible for the State Govt. to overcome it for the fact that Nagaland is ill equipped. Yet, the lock down alone will not mitigate the spread of the virus unless tests are conducted, detected, quarantined and whoever is suffering from the infection is timely treated. May God save Nagaland from the onslaught so that the Health Department is not proved worthless. I believe the Health Department has become practical rather than theoretical. In the midst of the State Govt. fighting against the onslaught of the terrible pandemic of COVID-19, the general public have to face the other virus which is no other than the price rise of the commodities created by those greedy and unscrupulous traders. Within the few days of the lockdown, some of the shop owners unilaterally and illegally enhanced the rates of the commodities and against which some sensitive public organisations promptly reacted to it including Western Sumi Hoho (WSH). If the State administration at all develops lethargy to effectively control the price rise, I would rather support the WSH’s warning that it will not remain a spectator but to retaliate to the reckless anti people activities of those greedy traders. The DMC, KMC and the ZTC too had taken some corrective measures against the defaulters. The three weeks lockdown is going to be a pretty long period. The GOI and the Govt. of Nagaland have assured the people that there is no shortage of essential commodities and therefore it is neither to worry about food shortage nor to go for panic purchase of food stuff.
Nevertheless, in this type of situation, there are always opportunists who will not fail to take undue advantage on the gullible public and resort to make bumper sale at exorbitant rates fuelled by two factors. Firstly, in absence of competition during this period, those unscrupulous traders have chance to impose their will on the consumers, and secondly, the unbridled traders will resort to hoarding of any item under which circumstance the rate will be raised in the name of artificial scarcity.
Not only during this period of the peculiar situation but some of the unscrupulous traders have the habit of doing business against the general interest of the public anytime one gets the opportunity. Naturally it is easy to push up the rate of any commodity in absence of possible reprisal from the administration, and once a rate is raised, it becomes almost impossible to bring that enhanced rate down to its rational level. The rates of the items so increased illegally by now will therefore remain stationary even after normalcy returns. Then that raised rate of an item becomes catalytic in spiking the rates of other items. Such illegal manipulation is not usually done collectively but by any individual trader whose spark is enough to change the market scenario. Such price manipulations are illegal and it is the other virus against the public welfare. The worst victim becomes the people in BPL (Below Poverty Line) in the face of price rise.
These illegal practices are rampant in Nagaland over the years and not only during the ongoing lockdown period by which the consumers are made to be the undeserved victims. The rates of several commodities are found cheaper in Imphal than in Kohima despite the higher freight charges for obvious reasons that Dimapur is just 74 km away from Kohima as against the 216 km distance between Dimapur and Imphal. The only reason is that there are altruists in Govt. working for the common man in Manipur whereas in Nagaland the Govt. hardly bothers for the plight of the low income people. Perhaps 10% of the population in Nagaland will not hesitate to buy rice @ Rs.1000/- per kg under compelling circumstance, whereas, the other 90% definitely lacked that buying power. This being my layman’s analysis, it is most imperative that the authorities, while trying to arrest the spread of COVID-19, the same effort be spared to control any manipulator from illegally taxing the fragile economy of the general public.
Both the DMC and the KMC are found to have taken actions against some of the defaulters who always look for any opportunity and will never miss the chance to exploit the common man. However, those nodal authorities are expected to remain vigil, meticulous and prompt in detecting any defaulter taking undue advantage of the situation during lockdown. The concerned authorities must not soft paddle with such manipulators but take befitting action against the anti-people elements. How long the general public and particularly the poorer section of the citizens are made to suffer in the hands of those predators. If the present day Govt. stands for the people as promised, take advantage of this situation and make a humble beginning for reformative measures henceforth.