Internally perilous, externally menacing
ALL religions have voluminous chapters preaching about addressing concerns of the most vulnerable with Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him” summing up importance of serving those who are facing dire situations. Regardless of such golden thoughts, outbreak of coronavirus, lockdown that governments across the world are enforcing to contain the disease and consequent sealing of the borders to prevent import have been encapsulating or isolating every community. The prevailing situation has also exposed the yawning gap and gravity of the suffering between the haves and have-nots with the latter left to live at the mercy of the government’s benevolence and efficiency of the administrators. Moreover, the lockdown protocols limit the option for reaching out and helping the hapless citizens. As preventing movement of people, who unfortunately are carriers of the virus, has been scientifically proven as the best option to limit the transmission of the disease so as to provide enough time to researchers for producing the most effective vaccines and the health authorities in upgrading the health infrastructure, virus-hit nations have been resorting to aggressive measures regardless of the containment exercise causing serious inconveniences to the masses. On account of rate of virus infections showing no signs of recession in many countries, ensuring livelihood sources to the citizens are no more the priority of the governments for the need of the hour is to save as many lives as possible. Though maximum numbers of the virus’ victims are the elderly ones, the lockdown has undoubtedly left the younger people isolated and in wretched situation for they neither have the means to earn nor could those who left their homes in search of greener pastures return to their loved ones.
In view of the unpredictable nature of the disease and steady spike in the number of infections in different parts of India coupled with remote chances of normality in the near future, many regional governments have started process to bring home the stranded natives to their home states with Manipur too making hectic efforts to ensure safe return of thousands of students and part-time job holders. It needs no reminding that quite a good number of Manipuri students and workers have been stranded in different states in the wake of the adverse effect caused by deadly coronavirus. Though officials of the government of Manipur have been communicating with their counterparts in different states for safety of the natives or bringing them back home, keeping in view of the deadly effect of coronavirus, it is unlikely that transportation of these hapless students/workers would be a smooth affair. Nevertheless, no harm would be done if the government gives its best in bringing back the distressed natives. Along with helping return of the state’s natives, the government needs to focus on beefing up preventive measures along the porous Indo-Myanmar border belt as incidences of seizing Myanmar-origin cigarettes are clear evidences about smuggling activities thriving despite the lockdown and claims of sealing the borders. As arrival, if any, of the stranded natives would definitely take a heavy toll on the state’s resources and medical fraternity, the government can’t afford to let the guards down along the international boundary for there is high possibility of profit-centric traders of Manipur importing the deadly coronavirus from their Myanmar counter-parts and further spreading the disease in the state. Whoever is involved in the cross-border smuggling of goods can’t be expected to take the conventional routes. Rather, they would try to outwit the border guards and will not confide about their health status to the health authorities till the last moment by which time they might have already transmitted the disease.