The pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has been harsh on everyone. Crumbling economy, unemployment, shortage of essential items and insufficient health infrastructure have further increased woes for people.
While some people are finding it hard to make ends meet others are becoming easy targets of government apathy.
The pictures of workers walking back to their villages from the cities which left them to toil on their own speaks volume of government’s apathy & failure during the whole period of lockdown. It was only because of the efforts of citizens and groups that provided some relief.
— Kawalpreet Kaur (@kawalpreetdu) May 12, 2020
1. Government has been doing to and fro with respect to the inclusion of sanitary napkins in the list of essential items.
When the lockdown began, government had no clarity about the inclusion of sanitary napkins in essential items list. In the absence of clear directives, several companies manufacturing sanitary napkins shut down, leading to their shortage.
After concerns were raised on social media, Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani issued a clarification stating ‘sanitary napkins have been included in the essential items list’.
Taking note of growing concern regarding availability of Sanitary Napkins, Home Secretary to Government of India has issued clarification to Chief Secretaries of all the states regarding Sanitary Pads being an essential commodity. pic.twitter.com/V2mj4fHjW3
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 29, 2020
Recently, a petition filed in Bombay HC by two law students sought a direction to the government to declare sanitary napkin as an essential commodity and supply them on par with other essential commodities during the pandemic.
Responding to the petition, Union Ministry of Health & Welfare said that a decision to declare sanitary napkins as an essential commodity can be taken only after following the due process and understanding the current market scenario and demand and supply gap.
2. The Authority for Advance Ruling decided to levy a GST of 18% on all alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
Recently, a company manufacturing alcohol-based hand sanitisers sought clarity about whether or not products supplied by it will invite GST. Responding to the petition, AAR said:
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs had classified hand sanitisers as an essential commodity, but the GST law has a separate list of exempted goods.
3. Petrol and diesel prices were hiked to a record-high during lockdown.
As lockdown restrictions eased across the world and fuel demand started recovering, state-run fuel retailers increased the price of petrol and diesel in India, too.
While petrol was at a 19-month high, diesel was at lifetime high of ₹77.06 in Delhi.
4. Migrant workers were reportedly asked to pay their bus and train fares during lockdown.
Reports suggest that migrant workers travelling through the Shramik Special trains were asked to pay fares. For instance, those travelling from Barmer in Rajasthan to Bapudham Motihari in Bihar were apparently charged ₹675 per worker.
5. A 12-year-old boy was thrashed by cops while he was selling fruits & vegetables on a cart.
The incident happened in Bareilly, UP, when the boy was selling vegetables in the absence of his father.
Identified as Lal Swami, the 32-year-old went out to buy milk in the evening and was beaten by cops for violating lockdown. His wife alleged that Swami was among the crowd that the police lathi-charged. He was taken to a local hospital where doctors pronounced his death.
However, the police refuted these allegations.
7. Hearing a petition regarding transportation of migrant workers in May 2020, the Supreme Court observed that it was impossible for courts to monitor or stop their movement.
Making a comment on the Aurangabad train accident that killed 15 migrant workers sleeping on the railway tracks, the SC said:
How can anyone stop this when they sleep on railway tracks?
After facing severe criticism from several quarters to address the issue, the SC took suo-motu cognisance of migrant labourers’ plight and asked the central and state governments to provide adequate food, shelter and transport free of cost to the migrants.
8. Private hospitals in the country have been overcharging patients for the treatment of Covid-19.
This image from the Max Hospital in Delhi did rounds on social media, with people asking the government to subsidise the treatment for Covid-19.
Following this, recently some states like Rajasthan, Punjab and UP put a cap on treatment rates for private hospitals.
9. Dr. K Sudhakar, an anesthesiologist at a government hospital in Visakhapatnam was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits.
Later, the police also beat him up for abusing the state government reportedly in an inebriated state.
10. Several videos of cops overturning vegetable carts on the streets also surfaced on social media during lockdown.
Vegetables are among essential goods that can be sold during the lockdown but vendors have been targeted by authorities in many places.
The @meerutpolice , filmed here overturning vegetable carts in an area that is close to a hotspot in the city . Meerut is among UP’s worst affected districts for #COVID19 , but does that justify the behaviour on display ? An enquiry has been ordered in this matter … pic.twitter.com/Af8dqpt0zr
— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) May 11, 2020
ये वीडियो दिल्ली के रंजीत नगर इलाके का है,बुधवार का वीडियो बताया गया है,जिसमे एक कांस्टेबल राजबीर बिना वर्दी के ठेले पर लगा सामान गिरा रहा है, हाथ मे डंडा ले रखा है,जब ये वीडियो वायरल हुआ तो उसके बाद राजबीर को सस्पेंड कर दिया है#coronavirusindia #Lockdown21 pic.twitter.com/tNxfy8ckHJ
— Mukesh singh sengar मुकेश सिंह सेंगर (@mukeshmukeshs) March 26, 2020
All of this at a time when people need the government to understand their needs and show empathy.