Let us begin a new life: ASUK (Part II)

The lifting of lockdown while evidence suggests that community spread is occurring in the country, shows that the government has adopted the idea.

The proscribed umbrella organisation Alliance For Socialist Unity, Kangleipak (ASUK) has expressed concerns over the present condition of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Indian nation and the state of Manipur.
A statement signed by chairman Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) N Oken and president Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) Ksh Laba Meitei stated that some Indian leaders and intellectuals have started proposing about ‘herd immunity’ upon realizing that the pandemic cannot be easily stopped.

‘Herd Immunity’ suggests keeping the elderly protected while allowing the rest of the population to get infected by the virus so that even if 1 percent of the population dies out from infection, the remaining 60 – 70 percent of the population will become immune and the pandemic will no longer spread further, it said. The idea is strongly advocated by former principal of Vellore Christian Medical College Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil. It seems that the Indian government is starting to consider the idea and beginning to realise that the lockdown was rather an extreme step, ASUK said.

The lifting of lockdown while evidence suggests that community spread is occurring in the country, shows that the government has adopted the idea, it stated. However, Dr Shekhar Mande and others have extremely opposed the idea of ‘herd immunity’ and stated that it is highly dangerous. It added.

Coming to Manipur, there are a total of 385 cases at the time of filing this statement though no one has died from the diseases so far. However, there is a rapid rise in the number of positive cases in the state. What can be considered as truly fortunate is that there have been no cases of community spread occurring in the state so far, the release said. All the confirmed cases are returnees and around 36,000 Manipuris have arrived back to the state so far. Till June 12, more than 22,000 returnees have been tested while 385 are confirmed positive for the virus. If the remaining 14,000 returnees are tested, there is a speculation that around 350 may be found positive and at the maximum, the total numbers of positive cases may reach up to 735, the release mentioned. 

“Considering these figures, we can safely assume that the magnitude of the pandemic is within limits and under control in the state,” ASUK said. Though many have been tested positive, they are also continually being discharged from the hospitals on a daily basis after being cured and tested negative for the virus, the release mentioned. Till June 12, a total of 73 persons were tested negative and released for home quarantine, it added. Many others who have left for home from quarantine centres are being tested negative. Since more than a thousand have been tested on a daily basis, the returnees who have already arrived back in the state will be completely tested in around 15 days, the release added.

What needs to be done at the moment is take up all necessary measures to prevent the infiltration of the virus into the state. If silent carriers are not allowed to secretly enter the state and those tested positive are not allowed to come out the quarantine centres, then the people need no longer be apprehensive of the pandemic. Those stranded outside must be urgently brought back into the state, otherwise the chances of them getting infected becomes higher, the release added.  

The need of the hour is to hold a serious debate on the possibility of facing an economic depression due to the pandemic, the release mentioned. Experts have opined that it will be worse than the economic depression of 1929 which lasted for more than 10 years, the release mentioned.  

The World Bank has predicted that the per capita GDP of each person in the world will be reduced by 6.2 percent. The total revenue of the entire European Union got reduced to 3.5 percent during the first three months of 2020 and it has been predicted that it will be worse ahead.  As per OXFAM, the income of the poor sections in the entire world will be reduced to 20 percent, adding more numbers to the 434 million poor people and reaching up to 932 million people, it added.  

Jared Bernstein who is a senior fellow at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities of USA said that the present situation of the economy will be worse than the great recession of 2008 and the magnitude will be twice than before. The rate of unemployment following the great depression of 1929 reached up to 25 percent but as per economist Dante DeAntonio, the rate of unemployment will be 10-20 times higher than the job loss which occurred during March.

As per a report released by International Labor Organization (ILO) of UNO on April 9, a total of 1.2 billion people who are working in the informal sector will lose their jobs or face extended working hours without an increase in payments, the release stated.

Director of ILO, Guy Ryder stated that for those who are informal workers and involved in small businesses, the coronavirus pandemic will cause an unimaginable catastrophe to them, the release mentioned.

First Published:June 15, 2020, 12:51 p.m.

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