India’s Covid-19 lockdowns have become like a game in which almost every fortnight, Indians impatiently wait for the Ministry of Home Affairs to announce new lockdown guidelines that dictate their lives during the pandemic. Leaving each announcement for the last minute, citizens are left to fend for themselves and unpack the complex guidelines over the next few days. To make the process even more gruelling, the Modi government leaves all the heavy lifting for the state governments, expecting them to execute orders depending on the extent of the outbreak in their respective territories.
However, if there’s one rule that has been crystal clear and consistent in its execution throughout the country, it is the night curfew.
The latest edition of ‘Lockdown 5.0’, called Unlock 1.0, has enforced a night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am. This move has offered some respite from the earlier curfew that was imposed from 7 pm to 7 am. Among all the research currently being conducted on the coronavirus, I suggest one should be dedicated to prove to the Centre that the virality of coronavirus remains the same be it night or day.
Futility of night curfew
Needless to say, imposing a curfew at night is futile.
It might be easy for the Modi government to assume that a night-long shutdown wouldn’t have a dire impact on the economy, given the ignorance with which they shut the entire country for over two months. This isn’t to defend India’s bustling night-life, or the lack thereof, but there are many Indians whose jobs demand the commitment of a night-shift. Take for instance, journalists, who work round-the-clock because the news never sleeps. Call center executives, too, are up till the wee hours of the morning.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
Before Covid struck, trucks and other goods carriers ruled the highways at night. But with the advent of the curfew, many logistics companies and transporters have complained of movement restrictions. Chirag Katira of Shree Nasik Goods Transport Co Pvt Ltd said, “The transport industry is already working in low capacity. There are hardly 150 drivers available for every 1000 trucks…Further, because of the 7 pm to 7 am curfew, the double shift work has also come to a halt. A lot of challenges are already there. With these new rules, the working capacity of trucks which is 50% at present will further decrease.”
Some also argue that these curfews will encourage corruption due to confusions on the ground level. Moreover, truck drivers heavily rely on dhabas and other eateries on the highway which will have to be shut during the curfew. Many transporters also struggle with the availability of truck drivers, as many have gone back home to their respective villages.
In order to provide economic relief and ‘unlock’ India the way the government has promised, it must do away with this pointless night curfew. If not, the backbone of the country’s economy that relies on logistics and transport companies will be heavily compromised. Or is the government relying on the worn-out Bollywood logic of raat gayi, baat gayi?
Only nights are not unsafe
Imposing a night curfew is also giving into the age-old traditions of believing that ‘bad’ things happen at night.
It would be foolish to expect a change in the behaviour of this deadly virus at night. The only creature that drastically changes their behaviour at night are men. No woman in India is alien to the threat of harassment, rape and kidnapping at night. Bollywood movies also warn women who roam around at night with graphic yet hard-hitting dialogues like, “Akeli ladki khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai.” Then, there are problematic advisories issued by the police that emphasize the night as a dangerous time of day, which if followed could end up putting women in more danger than otherwise.
It would be juvenile to believe that sexual harassment is reserved for night time. Women aren’t spared any mercy either in the dark of the night or in the brightness of the day.
The credit for inventing the idea of night curfews could actually be given to Indian parents. Even before coronavirus came along, almost every girl in an Indian household was already living the lockdown way of life. With the night curfew, each Indian invariably has now been forced to experience an Indian girl’s lifestyle.
Views are personal.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.