My dear friend Paul Morland asked me this question.
Here is my attempt to answer it.
Imagine village people or people living in India’s slums having fever or a cough. Do you think anyone of them would go and see a doctor? For sure not. Even now in times of the Corona crisis. They will simply stay at home and wait until it’s over. One way or the other. And this holds true for at least 700-800 million people in incredible India.
So what will happen?
The virus will spread and go wild.
The shutdown won’t really help.
Because there is hardly any social distancing in the way people are living in the villages and slums, there is hardly any understanding or possibility to wash hands and there is no medical infrastructure to test and separate.
So the ones who carry the virus will be close to those who don’t.
The virus has already reached the slums of Bombay.
The huge trek of millions of migrant workers returning to their villages will help to get the virus into the villages.
Many small, small shops are closing and going out of business.
The fragile Indian middle class will decline in numbers and many will drop back into poverty.
For day labour even less work will be available.
Vegetable and fruit prices will go up. There are hardly any buyers for the crops which is just being harvested.
People will die.
And they will not even know why.
They will silently waste away.
Hunger will once again become part of daily life for many.
And I only hope that government will intensify their support for the poorest with actions like gas for free and waiving rents off.
The near future doesn’t look bright for the poor in India.
The good news is, that the number of people becoming immune is rising as fast as the number of those who are infected.
The photo below was taken by Asha Gond in Janwaar.
It shows the paradox.
In a country where testing is very, very limited, where medical services are not really wide spread and the hospitals are only equipped with minimum machinery and know-how the ONLY option is precaution! Serious precaution.