These are tough times. The sheer level of uncertainty over the novel coronavirus can make your head spin. What do you do? You would like to trust the government that there are no active corona cases in Nepal. But then you think about the paucity of tests here and come to the inevitable conclusion that there must be at least a few undetected cases. This thought makes you a touch panicky. If, tomorrow, a few cases suddenly crop up, won’t there be an absolute pandemonium in the market? In that case, won’t daily necessities like LP gas, edibles and even soaps to wash your hands quickly disappear from shop-shelves?
Better to hoard these essentials when you can still get them relatively easily. You have a family to look after, don’t you? Why take chances then? But if everybody started thinking along these lines, one thing is certain: most of the stocks of these essentials will go to their highest bidders while those of lesser means will have to make do with the little morsels left behind. The tendency to hoard during a crisis, while natural, is also selfish.
Even today, besides the now indispensable facemasks and sanitizers, there does not seem to be an acute shortage of any other daily necessity. Although there was an initial panic when the virus first started spreading around the world, it quickly subsided. People can see that most things they need are easily available. India has vowed to continue with its exports to Nepal, and all our major border points are still open. Even if some private petrol pumps have hung up ‘No petrol’ signs, you can easily get some fuel at one of the government-run pumps.
Do everything to keep you and your family safe from the dreaded virus. But there as yet is no need to panic about your next meal. Perhaps if people see the government folks are out there monitoring for artificial shortages, and punishing those responsible, they will be assured more. A crisis of this magnitude can be tackled only if the government, the businesses, the citizens, the civil society, the media—all act as responsible social actors.