Small time repairs should also come under essential services- Nitin Saxena

New Delhi: The Indian government has failed to upgrade the list of essential services through an amendment in the 50-yzear-old Essential Services and Maintenance Act (ESMA).

Till date the government is leaning on the antique belief that food, hospitals, fuel pumps and transport are the only essential services that should not be disrupted in times of pandemics or State imposed curfew .


Nitin Saxena, Editor VSP News

India has seen the landscape of essential services changing significantly and efforts should have been to enlist a few more services under ESMA which was enacted 55 years ago.  The basic problem being faced by the urban population is the household gadgets repair-work that ruffles the smooth functioning of a house.  Anita Chamoli told this reporter that her washing machine had conked off and she had become a domestic laundry as no mechanic was available.

Venting out similar angst against the government, 20-year old collegiate Rupa Mathews lamented on the closure of  the roadside mobile repair shops. “ My world has come to a standstill.  I am without my mobile.  The display screen is black.  Its like living in hell without a phone,” she explained.

Many car owners also spelled discomfort on the closure of the mechanics shops.  “its disgusting that my car has been parked at home for the last almost a month and has  ‘starting’ problem.”

The ESMA  was enacted in 1968 to empower the government to enforce the regular services in certain sectors which including banking, railways, foodgrain retailers, hospital etc and also included stringent measures to thwart any strikes in these sectors during the emergent situation like epidemics, curfews.

But with this fresh emergent situation like lockdown which has never happened in Indian history the ESMA list needs to be modified keeping in mind the new list of essentials in today’s household. 

Refrigerator,  washing machine , gas stove,  RO’s , geyer etc.  have become necessitie , so much so, that  glitches in any of these machines can create problems and lead to frightful meanderings  in the house only.

“It is beyond comprehension what a household undergoes with pending repair work and its occupants live in disarray,” said Rakesh Malhotra, a businessman having a shop in the walled city.

The echoes of ‘we have to live with this pandemic and it is the new normal’, should have made the government sit up and visualised how the situation would be during the prolonged lockdown.  With a ban on opening of markets, small time wants which pop up as an emergency should have been chalked out on paper diligently. But it forget to see the small picture and concentrated on the big picture.

The politicians who have been advocating amendments in several acts have neglected this act for reform.   As the talk on impending third wave of covid gets hotter, It is high time for the government to rethink about the amendments in the ESMA.   Maybe the bad governance tag goes away

Nitin Saxena
Nitin Saxena is a Senior Journalist who dabbled into Films and Academics before coming back to Journalim as a Columnist and Communication consultant

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