Ramesh, a delivery boy with Zomato, received a call from the school where his three children are studying. The school that restricted its academic activities to mere online classes due to COVID, demanded for payment of fee. He lost his job a few days ago due to the COVID-related restrictions imposed on the food delivery apps, and therefore is not able to pay the fee. Despite being jobless, he is reluctant to shift his children to a government-run school, as he is not ready to compromise on the quality of education his wards receive.
Bansal, a science teacher in the same school where Ramesh’s children study, hasn’t received his salaries for the last three months. Whenever he requests the payment of his salary dues, the school authorities reject his pleas. “Unless parents pay, we can’t clear your salary dues, no matter what,” the authorities told him bluntly. And, they even advised him to look for another job.
Velu, the paralyzed landlord of Ramesh and Bansal, pressurizes them for settling their rental dues, and refuses to hear any of their excuses in that regard. As rents are his only source of income, his financial condition turned bad. Hence, he is neither able to buy his medicines nor is he able to pay electricity bills.
As the economic distress triggered by the COVID crisis kept spreading throughout the society, the government tried to calm the fears by simply stating that no firm, school, landlord, etc. can fire any of its employees or force its beneficiaries for payment.
Despite all this talk of humanity, very few people could manifest it in their daily lives. The pharmacist refuses to sell life-saving medicines to Velu on credit. Velu refuses to let his tenants postpone the payment of rent till the return of normalcy. The school authorities refuse to pay the salary dues to one of their most loyal and hard-working teachers on the pretext of non-functioning of school. And, the food delivery apps, which lost their business due to COVID restrictions, layoff their employees.Embed from Getty Images
The fact is, we are living in a society where we must generate revenue to sustain ourselves and the people, despite their generous talk, are not able to manifest that generosity in reality due to various constraints.
The governments, though aware of the wide-spread economic distress, are not able to do much to mitigate the suffering of the people. They also have their own problems. Systemic flaws, wide-spread corruption and poor tax compliance on the part of the rich made them face cash crunch. Unable to face this sudden catastrophe, they tried to play down the crisis.
This corona era is not only about how many of us eventually succumb to hunger or disease. It is also a testament to our resilience. The future generations will judge us based on how well we fight the invisible enemy called coronavirus by helping and supporting each other in this hour of crisis. There are numerous examples where people extended a helping hand to their fellow humans. But we can always do better.