An Unforeseeable Calamity: The COVID-19

Arup Majumder

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARSCoV) (WHO 2020). An epidemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19) has spread rapidly since December 8, 2019 in China (Paules, Marston, Fauci 2020).  The most recently discovered coronavirus causes the infectious, coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Person-to person contact is thought to be the main method of transmission of the virus according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People infected with COVID-19, let out tiny droplets containing the virus, on breathing out or coughing. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people can catch this disease by touching those objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick as the disease is contagious (National Health Mission 2020).

One the otherhand, lockdown is an emergency protocol that prevents people from leaving a given area. A full lockdown will mean people must stay where they are and not exit or enter a building or the given area. This scenario usually allows for essential supplies, grocery stores, pharmacies and banks to continue to serve the people. All non-essential activities remain shut for the entire period. India, at the moment, is not under complete lockdown. However, severe travel restrictions have been imposed (ET Online 2020).

According to Lav Agarwa, Joint Secretary (Health), India, said to a newspaper on 11th April 2020, “Lockdown and containment measures are important to fight Covid-19. If we had not taken any measures then we might have had two lakh cases at this time” (India Today Web Desk 2020).  But, according to Prof. Partho Sarothi Ray who engaged with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to study the coronavirus and formulate policies to tackle the pandemic as a scientist, said that the 21-day lockdown might help increase our ignorance about the virus if it is not used for enhanced testing (Banerjee 2020).  Also he doesn't think lockdown is useful unless you use the opportunity to test suspected people. Lockdown makes infected people remain at home. As a result, families are infected. If symptoms persist, they will go to doctors. But in 65 per cent of the cases the symptom is missing. When the lockdown ends these people would come out and infect old and vulnerable people, leading to resurgence of the virus (Banerjee 2020). 

However, the ongoing current scary scenario of COVID-19 has left an anxious impression not only in India, but across the globe. In this situation, the professionals related to the essential services, are trying their best to fight this pandemic. In this wake of horror the common masses are under house arrest. To keep the economy afresh, the economists are putting their utmost efforts. In a recent report of Anandabazar, 2020, the renowned economist Prof. Abhirup Sarkar (2020) had claimed to hand over some amount to the weaker sections. On the other hand, the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen opines that, when a particular group is finding ways to fight against the pandemic, another mass is busy finding their daily rice.  Thus, likewise arrangements should be made. Even, Dr. Abhijit Banerjee thinks alike.  The lockdown would be meaningless if people steps outside for food. Dr. Banerjee’s wife, Esther Duflo, also states that providing food is essential for preventing this infection. Those who opine that fighting the pandemic is the only motto for now whereas national economy should be focused later, aren't fully right, as stated by Economist Koushik Bosu. In order to make the lockdown successful, some amounts should be handed over to the weaker sections. Their needs must be fulfilled.  Total cooperation with the administration in lockdown is the sole criteria now. In order to meet this, measures should be taken. Dr. Abhijit Banerjee advises in this current situation (Aajkaal 2020). But, that cannot be the only possible solution. At this hour the common man must be brought back to the mainstream.

The sense of responsibility and awareness about social distancing that should have been within the citizens is still far. The running of businesses, the unnecessary wandering, disobeying the law must be stopped. The people from far off places are travelling regularly. A small example can be cited in this regard, a florist, who sells in different places, eventually comes in contact with others. As a matter of fact the fear of infection persists. But people cannot be barred from earning. Just, like that, the farmers are affected too. In spite of having enough products, they are unable to market at the right price.  Thus plenty of vegetables are being destroyed in the hope of the coming production. On the other hand, there appeared a vegetable crisis in the cities, even if the supplies are available, the prices are high.

In this way, the small scale businesses are being disturbed. As of now, the burning question is how to quick-fix this crisis? A possible solution may be, the transportation of the essential commodities from the cities to the village and the food materials from village to the cities. Our state has taken effective measures in reaching out to the weaker sections offering medicines, food and so on. But the problem is not being solved. The medical stores aren’t equipped with the necessary medicines in different areas due to the poor communication system. In our opinion, things can be activated by building some special communication systems.

If we consider the picture of Bengal, the farmer can sell their products, they can also transfer their agricultural production according to the needs from one Krishi Mandi to another. This will also benefit the farmers. Also the farmers should have different safety measures. On the other side of the coin, the urban dwellers will become aware if the responsibility to make people socially aware is vested in the hands of the educators and other government employees.

Apart from this, area wise awareness programmes on COVID-19 should be implemented. Infected places should be identified effectively. The dwellers should be tested thoroughly and carefully diagnosed. The marked area should be immediately turned off, and government aid will be provided righteously. The places which are not likely to be infected can be enabled for the daily chores of the common masses. Most importantly, the movements of the people should be carefully guarded and their daily work should be boundary specific. There will not be any free association between two blocks and government employees will be at their service. There will be specific health screening arrangements in the areas.

The system is infrastructure based and requires appropriate infrastructure. So, the government needs to plan ahead. Only by providing food and medical supplies, no nation can be sustained for days. This will weaken the economic infrastructure which will be a disaster in the coming days. It has to be kept in mind that above half the nation depends on agriculture and it contributes much of the region's economy. Looking at the statistics of various media, it can be said that the rural areas of India are unaffected from this COVID-19 virus. But with the relaxation of the lockdown, the people trapped outside will be back in the villages thereafter the possibility of disease transmission cannot be neglected. If the farmers are affected by the mortal disease, a new crisis of food may arise which will bring a nationwide economic breakdown. So, this should be handled safely.

Beside Social Isolation, a geographical isolation should be created based on the victims of the pandemic and the isolated areas should be divided into various grades. And the areas should be stimulated according to the grades divided. Also, workers from different strata should be trained accordingly to aware the individuals of the isolated area.

One more thing should be reconsidered, that for this lock down, the geographical isolation area should be divided into three types. Looking at the number of patients in different areas,     
i.       Hotspot area,
ii.       High population density area
iii.      Low population density area

The lockdown process should be strictly obeyed in the hotspot areas as well as in the high population density areas too. Lockdown should be continued in a conscious way because the present situation of Delhi and Maharashtra can show the importance of the matter.

On 11th April, 2020, Bengal Hon’ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced many notable far sighted thoughts to be shaped into reality, thus creating an unprecedented history in the world. Hopefully we will overcome this dire situation. What will come next is the financial meltdown internationally as well as nationwide. To meet that crisis there should be no flaws in the agricultural system. Only agriculture can save us from the huge economic crisis. As a result the farmers have to be looked after and encouraged for their work.

We will be benefited in two ways. Firstly, some job opportunities can be offered in the current inactive period so the rural sections will be financially benefited. Secondly, the economic collapse, post COVID-19 period can be prevented.

Apart from agriculture, emphasis should also be given on small industries and businesses. People from self-reliant groups have to look for different money making businesses in industries, which will benefit the people from non-agricultural categories.

For this project, certain block offices in the rural areas and municipality offices in the urban areas should be given the charge, through which the situation can be handled. Special emphasis must be given the small scale business viz- poultry farming, fishing, handicraft industry etc in the rural areas.

On the other hand, the urban areas should focus on the food items, textiles and so on. And for these activities, arrangement for repayable loans and small interest loans should be taken care of. Our true emphasis on these subjects can stop the rapid economic down growth.

Further questions can be raised whether to solely prioritise the economy or health. To be a better living organism in the days to come, apart from health and economy, education is necessary. Jaime Saavedra (2020), points out in the World Bank Blog that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing more than 1.6 billion children and youth to be out of school in 161 countries. This is close to 80% of the world’s enrolled students.  The continuity of education especially in this period, leaves impact on the students of various levels. To fulfil this, the Bengal government has come up with innovative systems, but it has its limitations. To fulfill this, the local channels in the local cable and also by the help of a unified central plan, uninterrupted education should be provided. It would even be better if the respective teachers from a particular area should be appointed to teach the students, from grassroots level to primary and secondary level, through the local channel in a local cable. Even college and university should also be brought under this. Thus this will enable the teaching learning process.

On the other hand, research work should be carried on. The university must not be in a hotspot area and the researcher must not dwell there. Residential system should be arranged for the researchers for the progress of research. An epidemic should not in any way historically block the progress of the nation. This effort gives us a historic fight even in the face of adversity.

Above all, one of the things that should be monitored is black-market. Also for a healthy normal and dynamic wellbeing of a society, retail and wholesale products should not be sold at higher rates. Surveillance is required. The easiest method is to start a temporary service, where the common masses can file their complaints. The authorities concerned should be aware that the complaints get resolved within moments. If the present society is outfitted a little, not only can we conquer this battle but also can be saved from this economic recession. Only then we can offer a helping hand in these hard times.

No compromises can be made in the country's economy, health or education in the near future amidst dealing with the current ongoing mess. Various studies have shown, a country had mostly suffered when its primary economic sources is affected. 

Thus there is no denying fact, the effect of COVID-19 will directly hit our future economy. And this will not be limited to food insecurity but will prevent the overall development. Even this can higher the suicide rates too, according to various studies (Zhang J, Ma J, Jia C, et al. 2020).

The present scenario makes me think that as long as new COVID-19 cases continue emerging, the rapid rise and fall of the graphic curve will continue. The possible solution to fight this can be cited from a common, real life experience.  In order to collect all the fishes in a pond, we need to net the entire pond, and by doing this we can collect each and every fish. 

The fight with COVID-19 is nevertheless different. To begin with, screening each and every citizen should be the top most priority. In a nation of 134 crores, the idea may seem absurd yet it is the only effective solution. The screening of all the individuals should be done by the government within 7 days in a specific lockdown area. The health workers should be trained accordingly and effectively. This should be conducted just like the elections are conducted. Yes, we all know that an exercise of this extent would have a population that is 5 times more than the country-wide election.

 Lockdown is a must. There's no doubt of it. But lockdown can never be a long term plan. Lockdown can be continued only if proper measures are taken to combat the economic downfall. Because, you cannot feed each and every citizen without letting them work. Donation, charity funds can work only up to a certain limit. If the limit exceeds, there will be another disaster far greater than the COVID-19, the economic recession.

Therefore, the centre government, the state government, policy maker, scientists as well as economists should join their hands and come forward for the nations to overcome the imminent crisis.


World Health Organization.(2020): “Coronavirus”, viewed on 12 April 2020, https: //

Paules CI, Marston HD and Fauci AS. (2020): “Coronavirus infections-more than just the common cold”, JAMA. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.0757. [PubMed: 31971553].

National Health Mission (2020): “Detail Question and Answers on COVID-19 for Public”, viewed on 12 April 2020,

India Today Web Desk (2020): “Without lockdown, India would have 2 lakh Covid-19 cases by now: Health ministry”, viewed on 12 April 2020,

ET Online (2020): “What a coronavirus lockdown looks likes, and what you can do & what you can't”, viewed on 25 March 2020,

Banerjee, Rabi (2020): “India needs more testing, not lockdown”, Viewed on 12 April 2020,

Jsaavedra, Jaime (2020): “Educational challenges and opportunities of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandaemic”, viewed on 30 March 2020,

Sarkar, Abhirup (2020): “Adbhut akta durbhikkho egiye asche, gorib manuser hate taka dite hobe akhoni” (in bangla), [A strange famine is approaching, some amount should be handed over to the poor immediately], Anandabazer Patrika, Viewed on 7 April 2020,

Aajkaal (2020): “Khete dilei safol hobe lockdown (in bangla)” [providing meal will fruitful the lockdown], viewed on 12 April 2020,

Zhang J, Ma J, Jia C, et al. (2020): “Economic growth and suicide rate changes: a case in China from 1982 to 2005,” Eur Psychiatry. Vol. 25, No.3, pp159–163.

Dr. Arup Majumder, Former Research Associate, School of Languages and Linguistics, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. And Vice- President Mobile Pathshala, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

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May 14, 2020

Dr. Arup Majumder arupmajumder.ra@

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