The combined population of Mumbai and Delhi is more than 5 crores. While one is the country's capital the other is our financial capital. Unless both the governments and people take urgent steps to control the rise in Corona cases, one of the two cities can spell doom for the country.
Life is slowly returning to normal in most parts of the country. Shops have opened. Vehicles are back on the road in many cities. But, far from improving, the situation is worsening in two major cities, Mumbai and Delhi. Hundreds of new Corona cases are being recorded every day in these two, causing a big worry. There is a fear in some quarters that they might become Wuhans of India.
In other cities, however, the story is little different. Offices have opened and business establishments are back to work. Attendance is low in offices and shops are not getting the usual crowd. But they are moving faster towards normalcy. Of course, it will take time. In overall assessment it appears that the common people have been hit harder. Labourers are without jobs and having a most difficult time.
Businessmen are worried too. The scenes in markets in Delhi, Mumbai, Patna and Lucknow are far from encouraging. Shops are open but there are not many customers. One businessman says that only ten per cent customers have turned up so far. Limited orders are being given. The usual atmosphere is missing. There is a wait and watch. The wait may be longer if the current situation continues.
The recovery rate has almost touched 50 per cent but there is a big spike in number of of new cases. It has averaged 10,000 per day now.The challenges have, therefore, increased. A slow down is expected after reaching the peak. Opinion is divided on the issue. Some say that the peak will come at the end of this month. To some others July end is the peak period. Slow-down will begin after that. At present people are not earning much. Once the earning improves, the demand will grow and the scenario in the markets will change.
The worst part of the story is that even educated ones are not following the guidelines. They are moving freely without masks. The situation is worse in cities like Delhi and Maharashtra but proper attention is not being paid. The number of corona patients in Maharashtra has crossed 80,000-mark. The number is rising every day. But a large number of people can be seen on Marine Drive in the morning without masks. They are behaving the way they used to behave during the normal time, as if nothing new has happened. Hundreds of Mumbaikars are seen walking closely,not maintaining the mandatory one metre distance.
These two metros play major roles and are important for different reasons. One is the capital of the country, the other is the financial capital. Delhi has embassies and High Commissions of more than two hundred countries. Thousands of diplomats also live there. Apart from this, more than ten thousand Japanese, Chinese and South Koreans live in Gurugram adjacent to Delhi. So we have to defeat Corana in Delhi and its surrounding cities. For this, it is very important that the Central and State Governments work together. During this crisis, we have to work hand in hand and not play the blame game.
There is no doubt that the situation has worsened in the country due to the Tablighi Jamaat first and then the migrant laborers.Many of them were Corona positive and they spread the disease far and wide. More than labourers, the irresponsible Tablighi Jamaat members have created problems for Delhiites. Strict action should be taken against those found guilty. In the meantime, we have to work out a new strategy which can change the situation rapidly. The recovery rate has improved but the number of cases are going up.Worse is the condition in Mumbai.
The government has to do something different there because Mumbai largely contributes to our income. It matters a lot for our economy.As much as 70 percent of the companies listed in Mumbai Stock Exchange have their head offices in Mumbai. Many top industrialists of the country also live in coastal city. Maharashtra,as is well-known, is the most industrialised state in the country. Maharashtra makes the largest contribution to the GDP. It has largely taken advantage of the opening up of the economy in the nineties. Is it a small matter that the size of Maharashtra's SGDP is more than that of Pakistan?
I am stressing on Delhi and Mumbai because together they constitute mini-India. There are around five crore people living in these two cities. The number will go up if the floating population is also taken into account. So, special attention has to be paid to them. This is possible. What is required is a strong discipline and zero tolerance for violation of guidelines. If people in Delhi and Mumbai have to go out of their homes in special circumstances, they should never forget to wear masks and maintain distance. That will send a strong message to people in other parts because many look to them for guidance.
Attention has to be also paid to one more area. There are people in these cities who are deliberately painting a bad picture. Condition may not be ideal in hospitals though all hospitals are not in a bad shape. But people are uploading pictures of only those hospitals where there is much to be desired, where patients have complaints. Videos of hospitals are going viral. Inquiry should be conducted and action should be taken against wrong-doers.
The government should also take action against private hospitals which are refusing to treat Corona patients and are overcharging. There are newspaper reports to these effects. Profit is the motive behind any business. Hospitals are set up after spending crores of rupees. Most of them have taken loans which have to be repaid. Free treatment of all may not be possible in the present condition. But poor can be excluded or certain Corona patients can be treated on a no-profit-no-loss basis so that the situation in Metros like Delhi and Mumbai improves fast in the interest of the country.
(The writer is a Senior Editor, columnist and former MP)