After a month of fasting and self-restraint Muslims in Bangladesh, as those in the rest of the world, will celebrate the holy Eid-ul-Fitr. Traditionally the biggest religious festival in the country the Eid has come with a different flavor this time because of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic attack which compelled the country to be under lockdown since March 26.
The lockdown has been enforced by the government to ensure social distancing with a view to preventing rapid spread of the highly contagious virus. It has brought the economy to a standstill and disoriented all productive sectors, virtually stopping money from changing hands that would have otherwise taken place through productive activities.
The pandemic has affected all categories of people. However, people of the low-income bracket who relied on small jobs, monthly or day-to-day income are the hardest hit in the society. The day laborers, rickshaw pullers, transport workers, garment workers, wayside shopkeepers, masons, carpenters, domestic helps all suddenly found themselves deprived of regular income on which they relied.
The government has allocated stimulus packages of nearly Taka 1 trillion to bail out different sectors of the economy and also expanded the social safety net program to address the problems of the hardest hit people. But still many people remained not covered by such programs and are passing their days in serious hardships.
Some rich people have also started extending hands of support to their near and dear ones. Different Dhaka-based societies have organized distribution of rice, pulses and potatoes to needy people of their localities in various districts to protect people from hunger. Yet all initiatives taken together fall far short of the gap that has been created by the all-pervasive economic ruin let loose by the pandemic and the lockdown.
The situation calls for all people who have money in excess of meeting their basic demands to share food with their neighbors who cannot ask for help but are going hungry. The Bangladesh society which has at times of crises in the past demonstrated this generosity will, hopefully, not fail this time too. The message of Eid-ul-Fitr is also to share wealth with the poor and celebrate together. Let the present Eid be one of humanitarian appeal.
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