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Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and  a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]

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Are the Quarantine centres being converted into hotspots?

IT News

Imphal, May 24:

According to social media posts, 102 returnees from UP and Uttarakhand presently undergoing mandatory quarantine at designated centre at Haoreibi College Boys and Girls Hostel are living under pathetic condition with no proper drinking water, dustbin or hygienic arrangements or food, and no government authority has visited this place so far. A press statement issued by Laishom Ibomcha Singh, Former Secretary (Law)& Ex- MLA today further states that the sum of Rs 200 for every inmate staying at these quarantine centres promised by the state government have yet to reach the inmates, and also adds that if any government authority fails to visit and inspect the said community Quarantine Centre by 2pm tomorrow, all the 102 inmates will return to their homes as per an ultimatum submitted to the Chief Minister. Terming the conduct of the state authorities as an abject negligence on the part of the state government, the former MLA cautioned that if the inmates carried out their threat due to the continued negligence of the state government without testing for the virus, it would prove catastrophic if any one of them happened to be Covid-19 positive, and would certainly cause a huge social unrest. Questioning the inequalities in facilities provided at different designated quarantine centres across the state and terming the same as discriminatory, the statement questioned the adequacy of Rs 200 for a day given the lack of facilities, food and water at the centre. Recalling the announcement of Rs 822.22 Crores by the centre on 20 May for Corona Management for Manipur state by Union DONER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, as well as an appeal for Rs 100 Crores from the centre by the State Health Minister to Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the statement questioned whether the fund has been actually transferred, adding that an utilization certificate would be required before further financial assistance can be availed by the state. Drawing immediate attention of the state government, the press release appealed the authorities to look into the discrepancies to make the sincere efforts of the state government of bringing back stranded Manipuri natives from different parts of the country a success.

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Preparing for the inevitable change

As the world is struggling to find a solution to the present pandemic which is not likely to subside anytime soon, the way of life we have been acccustomed to just a few months ago seem like a distant past, and the only effective means of preventing the dreaded scourge from spreading uncontrollably is to observe social distancing and maintain personal hygiene as of now.
This new social constraints have posed a very paradoxical problem for the society which is still struggling for a new order or system that follows and complements the natural laws and not based on anthropocentric views and beliefs which has contributed, if only in part, to the current crisis. There is an urgent and inevitable need for humans to change our old way of life, and change, in any form or magnitude has always been difficult and chaotic. The first or most basic step should be the acceptance that we are being forced to change our way of life and we need to embrace the truth. This acceptance and psychological preparedness will go a long way in making the transition or evolution smoother and better. We are indeed evolving as a society in the manner and system under which we have been living our lives. We are also evolving as individuals in that we are now required to be more responsible of our actions and behaviours, both socially and otherwise as our actions and habits will have a greater impact on others around us. We are already witnessing a change in how a few organisations and companies are conducting their business by reducing office goers and making employees work from home. Several big businesses plan to let much of their staff work from home permanently, even after the pandemic.
 Working from home could become the new normal — at least for some. Mark Zuckerberg said as many as 50% of Facebook (FB) employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. Twitter (TWTR)will allow some of its workforce to continue working from home “forever,” if they choose. French automaker PSA announced a “new era of agility,” in which its non-production staff will work remotely from now on. PSA, which makes Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall, said the new work-from-home plans will be implemented in the summer. Box (BOX) CEO Aaron Levie wrote in a blog post that the cloud-storage company’s nearly 2,000 employees are free to work “from anywhere” until the end of 2020. Online tutorial and academic websites are having a whale of a time right now, and there is a perceptible shift in a number of parents considering online and home education for their wards even after the present pandemic is over. These emerging changes are opportunities anyone can make use of.
However, government, both at the centre and the state should be pragmatic enough to grasp the moment and build a base for entrepreneurs in the state to enable first mover advantage in these emerging fields as these changes are swift and uncertain. But in the frantic rush, we need to make sure that a large number of people in the state are still  living in areas where basic infrastructures and facilities to enable them to enjoy the technological progress are still lacking. The leaders must do the needful without further delay if we are to step into the new world as equals.

Tending to the trivialities in time

The entire world is getting preoccupied with the battle against the raging Covid-19 pandemic which has been eluding a definite cure to this day despite the best efforts of the best minds and unlimited resources combined with cutting edge technology at the disposal of the experts.
With the battlefield expanding with each passing day, our little state has joined the fray and today, the rising sense of insecurity and concern amongst the public is getting more intense and vocal. On the other hand, there are reports of increasing pressure on the health workers due to the lack of manpower and equipments to handle the increasingly worsening situation in the state.
Till date more than 11,000 Manipuris who were stranded in various parts of the country have returned and are being quarantined at various designated centres for a mandatory 14 day period. About 40,000 more are estimated to be on the wait for their turn to return to the state. These are certainly trying times, both for the common public as well as the administration. And though certain oversights and loopholes are expected to emerge, there are more serious and deliberate sounding blunders committed which has come to light that reeks of opportunism and self-serving motives.
The state government, with all the pressing tasks at hand might be tempted to brush these ‘petty instances’ as insignificant and does not warrant immediate attention, but the fact of the matter remains that such ‘petty’ irregularities and opportunistic behavior by those in positions of power and influence or are close to one is seen as an act of disdain and disrespect for the common public, especially in these difficult times when the common people are looking up to the leaders for succour and reassurance. And when such petty mattes are left unattended, it can culminate into an issue which could spiral out of control sooner than anyone can expect.
There also remains the unfortunate practice of elected representatives to portray themselves as the provider of favours to the people when in actuality, it is their sworn duty, a position they begged for with folded hands and pleadings from the very people they are ruling over rather than serving. The need of the hour which should be considered as important if not more, as keeping the people safe from the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic is to provide a sense of fairness and empathy of the uncertainties and psychological challenges of the common public. Addressing any grievance, however trivial it might seem at the very onset should help in preventing issues from blowing up and adding to the crisis. Drawing up and implementing a uniform procedures and system across the state will ensure greater transparency and speedy operations and will also go a long way in assuaging the concerns of the public especially in rural and remote areas where the feeling of inequality in providing the basic requirements and other assistances by the state authorities still runs strong.
The mark of a true leader is to display the ability to rise over petty politics and individual concerns and commit to the good of the people. This is the perfect opportunity to shine, and the people are expectant.

Counting on our collective responsibilities

The count is increasing from a trickle to a steady flow and the trend is more than likely to increase in the coming days with thousands more coming back from various places across the country most of which are already the most affected zones of Covid-19 pandemic.  Many in the state are getting vocal of their growing concern for the efficiency and stringency of the quarantine centres being set up in different places to accommodate the thousands who are returning home.
The concern seem legitimate given the reports of mismanagements and lack of coordination in a number of these designated quarantine centres ranging from wining and dining by outsiders inside these centres to reports of quarantined persons roaming outside the designated centres. There are also repeated reports of returnees who are made to wait for hours and shuffling between centres before assigning one to them. Reports of inadequate facilities are also getting to a frequent event. These unfolding unfortunate events points to a flaw in the overall system of managing and running the centres and also an evident lack of coordination by the authorities.
The state government and those entrusted with the administration of these centres must immediately draw up and implement a standard procedure and practice for all the centres across the state including diet and hygiene. While the task is admittedly challenging and humans make mistakes even with the best laid plans, this is one time anything less than perfection will mean the difference between life and death. It would, however, be irresponsible on our part to dump everything on the state government and wash our hands off. Everybody in the state is in this fight as much as any government official or frontline health workers and any lack of cooperation or disregard of social protocol will certainly put everybody’s efforts to waste. We should not hesitate to remind anyone who does not follow protocol of the dangers and risks to their lives and others. And for those who are quarantined at the designated centres across the state, it would prove more productive if their stay is considered a social responsibility rather than a favour to the society and bear the insignificant hiccups in management or facilities which are bound to happen from time to time. One other dilemma the public is facing during the present lockdown is that of the state security forces imposing penalty or ‘fine’ on ‘curfew violators’ while shops are allowed to remain open for specific period. The habit of bunching up even during waiting in queues is another issue we need to address ourselves.
These social norms are implemented for the benefit of the public in that these social obligations may become  habit over time and will definitely help save lives- our own and that of others. We need to have this concept clear. Meanwhile, shops, petrol pumps and other public utility places should enforce social norms on the customers without which their service should be denied. Cooperation, coordination and a mindful approach can certainly save us from the scourge of Covid-19 pandemic.