This thread by poet-comedian Varun Grover on privilege during lockdown sparks debate

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Varun Grover shared an incident how a couple refused to pay the full sum to a vegetable seller recently, and his tweets started a serious conversation online. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

As India considers its next step as the 21-day national lockdown nears its end, poet and comedian Varun Grover's Twitter thread on how people have failed to realise their privilege sparked a debate.

Grover took to Twitter to share an incident he witnessed recently while buying vegetables. He spoke of how one couple tried to pay less than the amount quoted by the seller. According to Grover, the couple bought vegetables worth Rs 315, but paid only pay Rs 300 and had walked away "with a casual wave of hand". It was only after the vegetable seller protested that the couple agreed to pay. But they still paid five rupees less.

Grover pointed out that vegetable prices in his city haven't risen.

Although the seller didn't protest after getting Rs 10, Grover said he told the couple that they should be ashamed of themselves. He said that they stormed off after a brief argument.

Grover said that while the seller didn't object, it was about much more. "I understand - probably those five rupees mean nothing for both the parties in this case but decency, respect, and fairness is a social contract that should get stronger in times of distress," he tweeted.

He criticised the urban elite for letting their feeling of persecution trump all other emotions and for believing that they were entitled to decide how the less privileged lived as well:

The thread started a conversation with people discussing the lack of empathy shown by many. People also criticised the couple Grover had mentioned and pointed out the double standards of the urban elite.

Here's how people reacted:

Across India, local vendors and grocery shops have had been tasked with ensuring people don't run out of supplies while trying to slow the spread of the disease.

As far as the availability of food is concerned, the country has more than adequate stock. Also, thanks to a surplus monsoon, a bumper rabi crop is on its way. However, getting the food to plates could prove to be a problem, with a majorly disrupted supply chain, Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis shut, and inter-state movement of goods restricted.

The extent of the distress the country might have to feel will depend on how soon and how effectively the links between field and table are restored.