In times of a pandemic with a majority of economies being capitalistic in nature, is it time to rethink the existing economic structure, thus affecting both socially and politically?
Ravi, a vegetable seller on the streets of Delhi panics, fears that his family of four would starve to death, well-aware that essential services are available, the real question for him is, can he afford it? In a similar case of the namesake, Ravi, an employee of an international MNC overlooks the silence in his city from his 18th-floor balcony, the real question for him is, how to spend his free time.
A global recession seems inevitable owing to the large-scale nationwide shutdowns all over the globe. The economies are experiencing serious shocks and close-downs. As Angel Gurría, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Secretary-General, says, “Even if you don’t get a worldwide recession, you’re going to get either no growth or negative growth in many of the economies of the world, including some of the larger ones, and therefore you’re going to get not only low growth this year, but also it’s going to take longer to pick up in the future.” With a majority of economies being capitalistic in nature, is it time to rethink the existing economic structure, thus affecting both socially and politically?
The announcement of a nationwide lockdown brought about massive hysteria and panic thus exaggerating the existing lockdown situation. Panic buying or buying large amounts of commodities in advance expecting a shortage or crisis in the near future. A 20% upsurge is estimated in buying domestic items and food items. It is sad that it takes a global pandemic to question the public healthcare system.
The pandemic has given some people the leverage and privilege of working from home, with hot-shot MNC jobs with several benefits. While the poor of India walk miles and miles without any public transport in the aspiration of reaching their homes, safely. Migrant workers, daily-wage earners and businesses have been severely affected with individuals left in the dark about their coming future. Shruti Gupta, daughter of a businessman says, “My dad seems pretty worried about the crisis that’s going to have its repercussions on us. Even though it’s going to affect us as much as many others, we do have our daily needs but we are not getting money out of anywhere for now.”
The stark division in class is apparent, more so, due to the pandemic. The inflation rate of necessary items like sanitiser and masks are sky-rocketing. Apparently, single Dettol hand sanitiser would easily cost over INR 160! However, it should also be pointed out that the government (both centre and state) have put a cap on the price of essential items like sanitizers and masks.
In times of crisis, surely the laws of economics remain an exception, however, it is crucial to understand and introspect the ingrained capitalism in profiting and pandering to the rich while the poor suffer, drastically. COVID-19 is a gross reminder of the dark inequality plaguing the world.
Prabhanu Kumar Das, a critique of capitalism and a politics student, says, “With the spread of coronavirus as a global pandemic, we can clearly see the difference in how capitalist and socialist countries are handling the situation, with countries such as Italy, UK, or the USA facing the brunt. The harm of capitalisation and privatisation of basic human needs such as medicine and healthcare has been shown during this pandemic. While the approaches of communist and socialist governments such as Kerala in India, or Cuba sending doctors to Italy even after Italy supported the American embargo on Cuba shows the difference between capitalist and communist/socialist nations.”
As the elite receive the first tests, the first results, get to do repeated tests, where does the remaining world go? Why such disparity in basic healthcare and a pandemic which affects everyone? Remember, the rich are tired of sitting at home, while the poor walk miles and miles without any respite!
Feature Image Credits: The Week