Hardship of lockdown must be met by mobilising govt and social efforts07 April 2021 Editorial Desk
Middle-aged Mahmud Hossain used to run a happy family of 4 living in a moderate flat with his bedroom air conditioned. As the lockdown last year severely affected his small business, he had to vacate the flat and send his family back to his village home in Dinajpur. Mother of three children, his wife was in all tears as they left the place. Like Mahmud Hossain there are many middle or lower middle class people who silently suffer at times of economic crises like the present pandemic but cannot ask for help. They even go unfed. Daily bread earners are definitely the hardest hit by the loss of their livelihoods, they are known as needy people and also ask for help when in distress. But middle or lower middle income people are shy to ask for help and go hungry in silence.
In developed countries like Sweden the society comes forward in aid of those who are likely to go hungry but are shy to ask for food. When stress situations arise, well-to-do people purchase food at restaurants and keep some packets reserved as 'hold' for needy people who come and eat those like any other customer. Swedish people say poverty does not exist in their country in the sense that lack of nutrition stunts children's growth. But for some reasons some people lose contact with social welfare agencies and suffer as a result. The society has arrangement to look and care for them.
In other countries there are instances of rich people leaving stacks of food on trucks at strategic points for needy people to collect to have their lunch or dinner. Responsible quarters have started pondering as to what the rich people in Bangladesh are doing to help the affected people in the pandemic situation. In the villages people come to the rescue of their neighbours, kith and kin during disaster situations like floods, storms and cyclones. But this practice is markedly less in cities and towns. During the last winter some generous people were found to establish wayside temporary stores of winter garment with option for well-to-do people to donate fresh or used clothes and for those in need to take garment and protect themselves from the wintry chill. Taking this cue it's possible to store lunch or dinner boxes at strategic points for hungry people to go and eat.
The point here is, we need to mobilise the society to mitigate the sufferings to those whose livelihoods have been thrown into uncertainty by the lockdown. The rich people who according to various surveys have become richer during the coronavirus induced lockdown can take the opportunity to be of some service to the poor who have become poorer. Otherwise the social equilibrium is bound to break down. Where are our world famous NGOs? They can lead such initiatives. According latest statistics, the rate of poverty doubled in just one year of economic turmoil caused by the pandemic.
People are asking for institutional support to affected people. But without support of the whole society such a gigantic problem would be difficult to overcome.