GUWAHATI: Emergence of a new strain of the COVID-19 has played a spoilsport during the festival season this year, and the usual exuberance that marks this time of the year is missing. A waltz through the Beltola Market in Assam’s Guwahati on New Year’s Eve will show that many people are out and about procuring materials for the midnight feast, but a discussion with the vendors revealed a darker aspect to the proceedings.
If last year the anti-CAA agitation played a spoilsport, this year it was the COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown that caused immense losses to the economy and job-cuts.
The sellers of fish at the market have lamented that business is down this year. Some say that this is because “the economy is down.” Notably, the Indian Economy, which has entered a ‘technical recession’ for the first time in its history (a technical recession is when a country faces a back-to-back decline for two consecutive quarters in the GDP).
Saidul Ali, selling several varieties of fish by the streetside, says that “sales are down this year compared to earlier years.” “Even though I have kept the price constant, the sales are down. Last year we the anti-CAA agitation which was at its peak in December, but we still recorded decent sales,” he said.
Another seller, Malam Khan, complains that sales are down because “people are not having enough money to spend on luxuries.” “Prices are higher in the wholesale market, but the sales are down,” he added.
Papu Garo, a man selling pork in a makeshift bamboo stall, also revealed that sales are down. “Last year, the sales were good, but this year, the sales are down,” he informed.
Assam’s tryst with the killer virus happened on March 31, when a returnee from outside the state tested positive for Covid-19 in Silchar. Although the economy seems to be limping back to normal due to the rise in the recovery rate, people are still apprehensive.
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