Tackling Corona: Think Local, Act Local

Coronavirus climate change image

First of all, I want to salute the front line health workers who have done a heroic job and have risked their life. No words or compensation can ever adequately express our gratitude. In the last analysis the reward of having done a good job is to have done it!

Capitalism and Corona

We are not the first one to say that Corona represents ‘Nature’s’ reaction/revenge on the ravaging actions against nature by Man in the last two hundred years.

And if you actually see, it is a very mild and rational reaction. What is it doing? Affecting millions of people and killing a few old people. Now old age is a human phenomenon. In nature, that is, in plant and animal kingdom, there is no such comparable phenomenon. And contrary to popular understanding, among humans also it is relatively recent – starting roughly since mid 19th century. So old people have become ‘naturally’ more vulnerable only in the last two hundred years!

So it is only ‘natural’ that the overwhelming majority of people who died were old people. Yet very few old people died. Less than one percent of the old people in the world have died due to Corona. The number looks huge because human population is also ‘unnaturally’ huge! They are also dying in a nice manner – by dying through pneumonia which is akin to dying by drowning – one of the least painful deaths. By and large the young are spared.

Corona is spreading like wild fire mainly due to travel and large gatherings. Both of them increased in a big way in the 20th century. Nature is calling a halt to all this irrational practices. Thus, as we said above, it is mainly reacting to excesses carried out by Man. That is all.

Tackling Corona

The pandemic offers a great opportunity to move towards local self sufficiency and restoring ecology. All the dreams of ‘Gram Swarajya’ or ‘Transition Town’ can be realised if we put our mind and efforts to it. This article will explore this idea.

Tackling Corona has two aspects:

1. Helping the affected people

2. Preventing its spread.

The approach will be quarantine for individual patient and family and for prevention it will be a well thought out and regulated long term lock out.

Helping the affected people is very well thought out and is implemented wherever there are enough resources. So we will not dwell on it and concentrate on prevention. Prevention will also decrease the spread and reduce the load on the health system.

Preventing the spread of Corona

There are mainly two ways that Corona spreads: travel and large gathering. The purpose of lock down is precisely to prevent this. Why did the lock down not succeed? In our opinion the reasons were:

1. They were not planned with consultation and consent of all the stakeholders.
2. They were not planned with a view to change the system. It was hoped that after the lock out Corona will go away and things will be back to ‘normal’ although many voices cried out that there will be a new ‘normal’.

We will now present our view of the new ‘normal’.

In our view Corona represents the trigger of the collapse of the present capitalist/industrial society. The collapse began with the 2008 financial melt down which started the longest recession in the history of capitalism. As it happens with dying systems, the ruling class adopted the attitude of ‘loot and run’ and began an era of huge and irrational expansion and spending. This increased global warming, ecological destruction accompanied by extreme climate events and people’s protests. At the same time the very basis of industrial society, the minerals – fossil fuels and metals – depleted at an alarming rate – so much so that by 2030 most of them will not be viable for extraction economically.

So the new normal will not be back to the old ways even though most people think that way. If we don’t consciously build an alternative then we will continue to face Corona like situation till everybody is exhausted and gives up. We already see the signs of it.

So what will the new ‘normal’ look like?

In our view we should aim at a local lock down for three years and during that period organise the local community towards a self sufficient local economy and rebuilding the community. First we will outline what should be done and then we will discuss how to do it.

First what is local? It can be a panchyat, a small town or part of a big city. We will mainly think about the a small town. It will have same problems of a city but it would be manageable.

The lock out has, as we said above, two aims: prevent travel and prevent gatherings. If we consult
all the stakeholders and evolve a consensus it will not be difficult to implement. Then we should implement the programme of local sufficiency and rebuilding the community. There are several models of it available. We have also produced two booklets and a book of stories on it which can be useful to start with. They are: 1. CUBA: Road to a fossil fuel free society, 2. Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein: A Call for Local Action in the Wake of Global Emergency and 3.Vijutopias. PDF copies are available freely from the author.

How to start

We should start with a ‘war room’ kind of a group. It will have the head of the local government, health secretary and head of the police department. They should issue a statement stating the seriousness of the situation and ask the people to be ready for a lockout. They should also assure that no one will be ejected out of their house and no one will starve. Then they should form a people’s lock out committee. It should have representatives of trade unions, industry, shopkeepers, transport workers, religious leaders and leading NGOs of the town.

The committee should prepare a comprehensive lock out programme and a timeline of implementing with enough scope for adjustments in particular cases. A typical programme may look like this:

1. There will be a lock down for 3 months starting from one week from now.

2. The lock down will consist of a. travel restrictions b. restrictions on gatherings, It will also ensure security of food and shelter to all.

3. Travel: All public transport will stop. There will be no buses or trains for passengers. Those who want to go to their home towns/villages should leave within a week. Similarly those who want to come to town for long stay should arrive within a week. Only single riding bicycles can move within the town for necessary purposes. Most of them will be delivery persons from shops to homes. Only ambulances and a few emergency vehicles will get petrol.

4. People should not hoard. The administration will run community kitchens/bakeries etc. so no one need to starve. Home deliveries of essential medicines and groceries will be arranged on a weekly basis.

5. All educational institutions will close. Also all cinema hall, temples, churches, mosques, Gurudwaras etc. will close. Only the priest with a couple of assistants will open it once a day and perform minimum rituals and keep the place clean. People are requested to pray/perform rituals at home.

6. For marriages, births, deaths etc. no more than 7 members of the family should gather in an isolated place and the priest should come their and perform the rituals while taking adequate precautions for Corona.

Long Term Programme

1. The lock down will immediately start a programme of local food security. It will start a programme of production of perishables such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, poultry and fish within the town. It will provide full time/part time employment to all those who are out of work and ready to work in this field. It can be workers who have lost jobs, retired people, women and even school children.

2. All imports and exports will be minimized. They will be handled at one point on the border of the town and at the railway platform. No outside person will enter the town. Local delivery persons/carts will carry them to the local destination.

3, Grains will be stored in ware houses or large buildings such as cinema houses or ‘function’ places and it will be ensured that every one who needs will get it.

Concluding Remarks

This is just a tentative outline and in a real situation people will come up with better plans. As the town moves towards self sufficiency and as Corona is brought under control local restrictions on travel and gathering can be slowly reduced but contact with outside world would remain minimal. As more towns adopt such a policy in a three year period, like the ‘special period’ in Cuba we should be in a happier situation.


T. Vijayendra (1943 – ) was born in Mysore, grew up in Indore and went to IIT Kharagpur to get a B. Tech. in Electronics (1966). After a year’s stint at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, he got drawn into the whirlwind times of the late 60s.

Since then, he has always been some kind of political-social activist. His brief for himself is the education of Left wing cadres and so he almost exclusively publishes in the Left wing journal Frontier, published from Kolkata. For the last ten years, he has been active in the field of ‘Peak Oil’ and is a founder member of Peak Oil India and Ecologise. Since 2015 he has been involved in Ecologise! Camps and in 2016 he initiated Ecologise Hyderabad. He divides his time between an organic farm at the foothills of Western Ghats, watching birds, writing fiction and Hyderabad. Vijayendra has been a ‘dedicated’ cyclist all his life, meaning, he neither took a driving license nor did he ever drive a fossil fuel-based vehicle.

He has published a book dealing with resource depletion, three books of essays, two collections of short stories, a novella, an autobiography, a piece of children’s science fiction about the history of the bicycle and several booklets. His booklet, Kabira Khada Bazar Mein: Call for Local Action in the Wake of Global Emergency (2019, https://archive.org/details/kabira-khada-bazaar-mein) has been translated into Kannada, Bengali and Marathi and is the basic text for the emerging Transition Networks in these language regions. His latest book is ‘Vijutopias: Dreams for Local Futures (2020).

Email: [email protected]



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