The four hard-hit areas that Sikkim must rebuild ASAP

4 E’s For Us to Mull (Part Two) Mankind continues to make desperate and hitherto unsuccessful attempts to wriggle out of the ever-intensifying vortex of the never before imagined Covid-19 pandemic. The hope of a cure appears at times, faintly, on the horizon. However, we are going to be reeling under it for a long […] The post The four hard-hit areas that Sikkim must rebuild ASAP appeared first on The Sikkim Chronicle - Sikkim News.

The four hard-hit areas that Sikkim must rebuild ASAP

4 E’s For Us to Mull

(Part Two)

Mankind continues to make desperate and hitherto unsuccessful attempts to wriggle out of the ever-intensifying vortex of the never before imagined Covid-19 pandemic. The hope of a cure appears at times, faintly, on the horizon. However, we are going to be reeling under it for a long time due to the unprecedented impact it will leave on different areas of our life.

Out of the four Es, that Sikkim has to ponder hard, I touched upon the first two – the Economy and Education in a previous article. As I prepare to write about the next two, I can’t help mentioning the findings of the Buddy4Study.com student survey. Over 75% of students reported a severe impact on their education under the lockdown. Only 7% of students said that their studies had not been adversely impacted. And the interplay between economic status and education is so striking. It is the students from the Economically Weaker Section who are at the receiving end of its adverse impact. The survey shows that they have been unable to take advantage of online learning due to a lack of e-learning know-how and a lack of laptops, tablets, smartphone and the internet.

Let me now move onto my next two Es.

Entrepreneurship and Employment: 

In recent times, the most and perhaps only promising income-generating alternative for government-job-dependent Sikkim had been entrepreneurship. In the last number of decades, entrepreneurial activities were gathering force. Many local entrepreneurs were setting a new trend of preferring private business rather than treading the age-old-path of landing a government job. Many highly talented Sikkimese youth had returned to Sikkim from different parts of India and even abroad and had seen the opportunity to make a fortune. Sikkim’s income landscape was changing slowly but surely. The number of brave hearts to take the less travelled path was on the rise. And then this pandemic happened. 

The harsh reality is that these young ventures do not have the financial backup to survive this protracted lockdown. A month-long lockdown is brutal enough to strangle many of these entrepreneurship babies in the cradle. I am in touch with some agri-entrepreneurs who run fisheries, piggeries and poultry farms. To go through a month with zero sales is fatal for them. It is a big loss for farm-keepers to keep rearing their livestock beyond their “slaughter weight”. A poultry farmer told me that his chickens had weighed nearly four kg each (an ideal selling weight) but are now losing weight due to a lack of feed. Pig and trout feed are also expensive. And there are other enterprises besides this agri-entrepreneurship. There is the employment of many workers associated with these enterprises. Also, the employment of many under private sectors are under tremendous threat as their employers may not (be able to) pay their salaries. Needless to mention, employment opportunities, in general, will be doomed for some years.

The Covid-19 pandemic may not touch human life in Sikkim but livelihoods have been severely impacted. I hope the government will come up with a special relief package to inject new life into these dying enterprises. Top-notch economists globally say that one of the first things the governments must do to reboot a slumping economy is to lend their industry a hand.

Sikkim needs to do all it takes to keep them going. With these enterprises gone, entrepreneurial enthusiasm and vision may die which would be a colossal loss for us.

Emotional issues: Phobic reactions will be a new normal in our post-lockdown social interactions. Sneezing, coughing, handshaking, hugging apart, there will be some serious changes in our socializing caused by a general nervousness among some of us. The fear of contracting the virus will be ruling the roost in many a mind. The freedom and ease of movement which we previously enjoyed will degenerate into nervousness, more so in the case of seniors and people with co-morbidities. An escalated sense of insecurity and suspicion will restrict our tendencies to social engagement.

Here the government can hardly do anything to change reality. However, putting in place a trustworthy mechanism to disseminate right and helpful information about infection and dispelling rumours will be key to fighting the possible paranoia that will grip us for some time. NGOs, media and educational institutes have a huge role to play here. Individual people have to be adequately ‘educated’ to re-orient themselves towards fostering a meaningful sense of social fellowship.  

The healthcare department now must come up with a strategy to help those with pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and OCD. Experts think that isolation (in the lockdown) could cause re-lapses of clinical depression. Some studies on the impacts of quarantine suggest that it could trigger confusion, stress, anger and even insomnia. Imagine the impact of constant ‘health alerts, news of infection spreading, deaths, economic crisis’ hitting people’s minds 24×7.

Simply put, life will be different. We need to prepare ourselves to tackle a drastically changed reality. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic may not touch human life in Sikkim but livelihoods have been severely impacted. I hope the government will come up with a special relief package to inject new life into these dying enterprises. Top-notch economists globally say that one of the first things the governments must do to reboot a slumping economy is to lend their industry a hand.”

By Jiwan Rai. The author can be contacted at – jiwanr@gmail.com

Views/Opinions expressed in the article or write up is purely of the author or writer and not of the Sikkim Chronicle. For any queries or contradictions, the author can be contacted at his/her email id.

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