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Making Sense Of Tamil Nadu’s Stricter Lockdown

Looks like the second corona wave has deluged Tamil Nadu in unprecedented ways. Agreed, TN Chief Minister MK Stalin has proactively taken the views of all the stakeholders concerned in several meetings. After nearly 15 days of a regulated lockdown, when shops remained open from 6 am to 10 am, a sudden decision on Saturday, May 22 to impose very strict lockdown, and yet allow shops to remain open till 9 pm on both Saturday and Sunday sent the people into a feeding frenzy. Within minutes, commercial neighbourhoods were inundated with pushing, shoving and elbowing crowds, wanting to stock up, sending black marketing up ….the lowly Lauki or Bottle Gourd cost Rs 70 a kilo, Snake Gourd Rs 80, as for other exotic veggies, the middle class would rather do without these. It is hard to judge such decisions by the ensuing fallout. The parable of the blind men trying to decipher an existentialist truth is so very apt. The bigger the round table, the more varied the solutions. Probably, the government’s view that at one stroke traders would liquidate most of the inventory, and allow the people to stock up for a week’s strict lockdown was the logic behind this. Unfortunately, this decision could make matters worse in an already frightening situation. Instead, the TN authorities would have done lasting service by opening up neighbourhood vaccination centers/ camps, demanded that the state’s vaccine needs were met by the Centre, and dangled the carrot of incentives for those who rushed to get the jab. Stricter lockdowns only spread a sense of panic and defiance. The blind men are still figuring out this elephant.