ECI

Respected Election Commission,

It has been a week since the assembly elections were declared in 5 states and today also marks the last day of holding virtual rallies.

In this past week new COVID-19 cases in these election going states have at least doubled:

StateNew cases on 8th Jan 2022New cases on 8th Jan 2022% Increase
Uttar Pradesh6401147352.31 Times
Punjab177359393.35 Times
Goa178937282.08 Times
Manipur761552.08 Times
Uttrakhand61030055 Times

In view of the stark rise in the Covid numbers will you continue to ban physical rallies??

If yes, then how will you punish the guilty?

With an abysmal rural net penetration of 37.74% how will the candidates reach the voters?

Wouldn’t this hamper the holding of free and fair election?

Some experts have said that the elections were to be blamed for Pandemic’s second wave last year. In Tamil Nadu state your office was publicly rebuked by a court for not taking action earlier to stop big public rallies there.

“Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19,” the Madras high court had said.

You have the powers under Section 153 THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT, 1951:-

“Extention of time for completion of election.—It shall be competent for the Election Commission for reasons which it considers sufficient, to extend the time for the completion of any election by making necessary amendments in the notification issued by it under section 30 or sub-section (1) of section 39.] to eof  can be exercised only after an election schedule has been notified.”

Under Article 324 of our Constitution you can inform the government of inability to hold polls looking at the rising Covid numbers.

Sir, these are extraordinary times – times that no one living has ever seen or imagined in their lifetimes.

As a citizen of this country, I urge and plead you to reconsider your decision to hold these elections atleast for the time being till this third wave ebbs. I would rather see people queuing up to vote for candidates of their choice than standing in the lines to have their loved ones cremated. I would rather see voters selecting their representative than having to select whether to bury their loves on banks of Ganga or to let them float away in her water.

Regards,

Deepak Sukhadia

Lost Generation

Just the other day I was inquiring about the well being of the family of our office help. Luckily for him and his family they remained unscathed by this recent Corona Wave. However as a father of 2 young boys aged three and five, he was worried in respect to their education. Online classes were something his kids were too young to attend on their own considering he and his wife were working parents and they lacked resources to buy smart phones for them.

What we are looking at is a Lost Generation!! Generations getting lost at both at the starting point as well at the end of the Indian School System.

This pandemic with it has not only bought death and illness but also unparalleled economic misery. Millions have lost their jobs, earnings and have been pushed to poverty. As per a World Bank study the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021.This has a direct bearing on the education of our children.

We are looking at a delay in admission in primary section by at least a year or two as not many parents can afford smart phones for their children for online classes. Even if they do, how many have the inclination and wherewithal to monitor their child’s progress? At such a weak base we are looking at children with issues in future.

Moreover for students who are aiming for a good college- these online classes and economic hardships for some will putting a spanner in their future plans. Getting admitted in college below a student’s potential for lack of affordability of coaching classes / Fees is going to reflect on their Job opportunities and economic status their entire life.

Then there is an entire section of children who have been stopped going to school for lack of funds, to supplement family income or even become breadwinners. Will it be ever possible to get them back to the education system??

There are no easy solutions and not a comfortable path forward. With an imminent third wave in future, this academic year too will be sacrificed at the altar of the pandemic. I just hope I am proved wrong in the future and the future of our children remained unscarred by COVID-19.

Bye Bye 2020

Queen Elizabeth once said, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.

Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase, meaning “horrible year” and being a major fan of the Series – The Crown, I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity of quoting her majesty – as I feel the same about 2020.

2020 has been one hell of a horrible year for mankind. A virus has taught us how insignificant and ignorant we have been. Irrespective of the advances by the scientific community they have been a step behind the forces of Mother Nature. COVID-19 – A virus that put the world at a standstill: A scenario we never envisioned in our wildest dreams.

But aren’t we all glad this year is finally getting over and with the hope of getting ourselves vaccinated soon enough. YES!! Irrespective what the naysayers may say I am going to get myself vaccinated as soon as I can lay my hands / bum whichever way it’s going to be administered on.

Before this year ends lets pray for the ones we have lost or whose life have been scarred by this deadly disease. Loss of family, friends, jobs and incomes wrecked all of us emotionally.

On the flip side let us thank God for making us sail thru this year alive!! We will heal at our own pace, for that is the human spirit – To Fall, To Stumble and To Rise Again. We will be the living embodiment of the Pandemic tales that we shall regale our future generations with.

Lets us drown the unpleasant memories of 2020 in the festive spirits of our choice and usher in a promising 2021!!

God Bless us all !!

IMMUNITY

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Dear Doctor,

I am taking the following for COVID prevention.

Yoga + Walk + Lemon Water + Turmeric powder in water + chayvanprash + Kachha Garlic + Kachha Ginger + Almond Kabuli + Anzeer Kabuli + Khurmani + Kali mirch + Laung in the mouth + Gargles of hot water and salt  + Drinking hot water only full day + Tulsi Batti ( Patanjali )+ Giloi batti ( Patanjali ) + Neem  Batti ( Patanjali ) + Arsenic Albs Homeopethic Medicine 5 drops in two spoons of water 5 days a month + Camphor 1M tablets plus HCQ plus azithral plus ivermectin.

Please suggest if I should take anything more.

Doctor’s Reply :: बस कर पगले, वरना तु अमर हो जाएगा !

Well above is a whatsapp forwarded message and in the real world the patient is me and the Doctor is my wife, who is now sick and tired of trying on any new medicine to boast immunity!!

So कोरोना काण्ड हुआ and it had me shit scared with waves of varied feelings hitting me one after another. पहले थोड़ा defiant होने का ढोंग करा और उदयपुर में positive cases आने के बाद वोह ढोंग भी हवा हो गया. फिर डरना चालू करा तो बेहतर recover rate रेट और vaccine की खबर सुन कर फिर थोड़े चौड़े घुमने लगे ही थे और शहर में कोरोना विस्फोट हो गया. 3 महीने के बाद इसी अच्छी-बुरी खबर के साथ जीना सिख रहे हैं.

The one thing that remained unchanged was the need to boost immunity, but again immunity doesn’t hadownload (16)ve a barometer by which it can measured. To measure when one needs it and when one needs to discontinue the supplements. Well I for one ensured most of my family members lived by the maxim: Better Safe than Sorry!!

Thus the need to boost immunity started with me calling up my Ayurvedic medicine sources luckily for me and unluckily for my members who became unwilling guinea pigs on this quest of boosting immunity, one of our neighbours runs an Ayurvedic Medicine Store.

download (17)So the first dose of immunity started in the month of March with some immunity syrups. Then came Rajiv Bajaj’s famous whatsapp messages about the benefits of Homeopathy and thus we all took the CAMPHORA – 1.

Because of the lockdown the immunity syrups were in short supply and I needed the daily immunity boosters thus came the homemade bitter powder: a concoction of God knows how many dry spices to be taken once a day.

I wanted more so I pestered and pestered my neighbor and who suggested some kind of Chaywanprash, the taste of which I have abhorred since my school days. But क्या करें, कोरोना के लिए वोह भी खाया and finally he had to tell me, बस भैया इससे ज्यादा किसी और चीज़ की ज़रुरत नहीं है!!

Besides the above there was lukewarm water, allopathic self-medication for even a slight deviance from the normal, less intake of cold-substances, washing hands, sanitizer, baths etc. etc…

Anything to keep this Corona at an arms’s distance or like they say 2 गज दूर.

सोच रहा हूँ की अब भी कुछ गड़बड़ हो गयी तो किसी आश्रम में शरण ले लूँगा !!

GO CORONA GO !!

MIGRATION

migrant-workers-agencies

On 24th March 2020 at 8PM our Prime Minister Respected Narendra Modi ji announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days that was to take effect in the next 4 hours i.e. 12PM. This was done in order to combat the deadly Corona Virus.

Since the disease was first detected in India we all were anticipating it, however in absence of any clear guidelines most of us went about our daily routines and subsequent to the above announcement entire country came to a standstill with a notice period of 4 hours.

The mayhem that followed was unprecedented, with workplaces shut and with that the sources of livelihood for the marginalised. They had no one to fall back to and this started a mass migration to their home states. This migration was something that continues to surpass to the migration that happened in 1947 i.e. The Partition.

FACT :

  • According to one World Bank estimate approximately 40 million people will be migrating from their workplaces to home states. While during Partition 12 million estimated people crossed borders in both directions.
  • As of 16th May 2020 Indian Railways has operated 1,074 Shramik Special trains ferrying more than 14 lakh workers. While during partition between August and November 1947 around 673 refugee trains transported 28 lakh people.
  • As per a recent survey of 18,000 households across 10 states in India since the lockdown, they have found that most of the above have lost 60% of their Income in April 2020, 20% have already run out of money and supplies and a further 60% will run out in next 2 weeks.
  • The lockdown most definitely has not flattened the curve and nor has it reduced the growth but we have been able to buy some time to fight the disease.
  • Lockdown 4 has resumed most of the economic activity with questionable availability of manpower. However there is simply no other way but to resume economic activity and learn to live with the virus because we got to be ‘AATMANIRBHAR’

HINDSIGHT:

Cambridge Dictionary defines Hindsight as: The ability to understand an event or situation only after it has happened.

In view of the above facts we can now in hindsight state the following:

  • Due to this virus other countries has started imposing lockdown much before ours. Government had some idea what had happened in other countries and what needed to be done to make lockdown less painful. It should have done a better anticipatory analysis.
  • The Government could have allowed the trains/buses to run to ferry labour/people to their home states after announcing the lockdown. Lakhs could have been saved of the hardships of the ardours journey home.
  • Now when Lakhs are returning home thru the Shramik Special Trains, there are more virus carriers than what would have been if they were bought back home in March itself and yes this should in no way disqualify them from going back home.

How many generations will it take to wipe out the suffering of millions of our migratory fellow citizens? To the lives lost, to the dreams erased and to find answers to questions that could never find a voice.

Economic Lockdown

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It has been more than 45 days of Lockdown and we are nowhere near reaching a plateau, on the contrary we are now witnessing an upward trend. To put it in perspective ; the day the Janta Curfew was announced there were 403 COVID+ cases in India and now that number stands at 53000 and counting.

The economy has crumbled. The last modified lockdown has started opening up the economy but we still have a long way to go. The livelihoods are lost; the lives are being lost because the doctors are too scared to treat patients; millions are on the roads trying to reach their birthplaces.

After the man-made tragedy like that of Demonetisation and GST, the Central Government is still walking in dark alleys of lockdown and Corona to find a foothold.

To see how this government has tried to navigate the first two catastrophes, we need to see how they behaved in them. Below is the no of notifications/ clarifications that the government issued during their implementation:

This government has had many meetings with the Finance Ministry but yet to announce a stimulus package. Between the clapping, the Lighting of the Lamp and the showering of petals; we are still awaiting an economic relief. In absence of which some of the SME’s, MSME’s and others will shut shop forever. If the government cant work one out, take the help of experts for in difficult times its OK to ask for help.

For some who will question the intent of this article I would like to say:

Yes I am a Congressman and the role of opposition is to ask questions.

Yes my hardships are nowhere near what most of my other countrymen are facing.

Yes I am willing to stand united as one but that doesn’t stop me from questioning an elected government.

As a Citizen of this country questioning an elected Government doesn’t equate with questioning my Country.

In the end request you to Stay Safe, maintain Social/Physical distancing, boost your immunity and Pray to God to give us strength to Passover these troubled times.

Lockdown Diary

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For starters we all deserve a pat on our back for staying indoors and surviving the first stretch of the lock-down. If not for the foolhardiness of some, things would have been better. However we are still in much- much better position as compared to most of the so called developed countries of the world.

There a few things that I have realized over this period:

  • How important it is to have a hobby – the ones that you can enjoy doing from the comfort of your home, without anyone’s company.
  • The people you call, message and try getting in touch with are the people that matter. Henceforth whenever you have to choose, you know who to hold on to.
  • The neighbors are and will remain our first source of contact in case of an emergency. If we can’t be pals with them at least be cordial.
  • I have survived till date in 2 pair of shorts & T-Shirt and a pair of nightwear. I can also do away with processed food.
  • Those of us who are gloating over the fact that our needs have become less and we can live with these curtailed wants are absolutely wrong. There is a term in Mewari “मशानों का वैराग्य”, all the above feeling is just that. All this back to basics bullshit is till the time lockdown remains. We are once again going to jump head on into this materialistic world with much more fervor.
  • The political leadership will always have the best interest in their mind in times of crisis irrespective of cast, creed and region. We also need to get above these narrow boundaries.
  • There is a saying, “Hands that serve are holier than the ones that pray”. To all the religious leaders – we have enough places of worship what we need more are the Temples of Healing i.e. the hospitals.
  • There are some genuine people who are doing their job and helping the needy. If they want then they must do their publicity, for the others please spare the theatrics.
  • Our elected representatives, who have not stayed in their constituency to monitor the aid-work, have a lot to answer for in the next elections.
  • For other political workers – not everyone needs to be on the field, you can contribute by staying indoors and stop the spread.

This virus that has shaken the world has its origin in China and they have lot to answer for and pay for.

Corona & Financial Aid

 

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The mighty Corona Virus is on a war path devastating everything that it touches moving from city to city, country to country leaving behind mayhem both in terms of human loss and economic meltdown. However I am sure that it is matter of time that we will surmount this devil with our resilience, scientific progress and more importantly by community outreach or rather lack of it, thru social distancing.

Places of worship closed, travel restrictions, closed airports, countries on lockdown etc. governments across the globe are taking whatever it takes to curtail its spread. On an individual level we also need to keep the social distancing, to flatten the curve of its spread and while all of us do this it will have a massive hit on the economy.

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For starters the tourism, airline and hospitality have taken a massive blow and there is no immediate relief in sight. It is only matter of time that the effect will be seen across industries. There will be some who will be able to take this hit while for some it will cripple them. Some will grow back but for some it will be a death knell financially.

While the government is able to pay its employees in spite of shutdowns same cannot be said about private enterprises. Thus I request the government whether of the Local Bodies, State or the Central level to ease out the financial burden of its citizens to help them cope up with this crisis.

Here are few of my suggestions to tide over this Economic Tsunami:

  • The Local Administrative Bodies i.e the Municipal Bodies and Zila Parishads defer the collection of taxes for at least a quarter.
  • There should be no late fees charges for the deposit or filing of returns for GST or Income Tax. However the government should pass on these benefits to small business owners like shopkeepers, SME etc.
  • Hospitality Industry should be given Tax Rebate and concessions for 2 Financial Years.
  • To ensure that no hoarding takes place of essential food items, medicines and items of daily necessities.
  • The citizens should be given the option to pay their bills of essential utilities in installments.
  • New academic sessions will be starting soon and this entails a major outflow for a middle class family and keeping this in mind the education department should take some steps to ease this burden.
  • Worst hit are going to be daily wage earners; government should ensure opening affordable, subsidized kitchens to ensure proper nutrition to them.
  • Loan servicing and Interest for SME’s, Home Loans should be kept in abeyance with no penal action.
  • CSR funds should be mandatorily be used to fight COVID-19 and ease out financial discomfort.

These are some recommendations, I am sure there are better suggestions and views to fight and shield us against CORONA!!

PS: Last but not the least: – No sitting government should be destabilized and no No Confidence Motion moved against them. Let them handle the CORONA and not waste time in safeguarding their law makers.