By: T S Haokip
“There is no economic task force; medical infrastructure is pathetic; the Government has failed to act timely,” are few of the many statements the Government is bombarded with as India fights the highly contagious Covid-19. But over time, it has become clearly visible that while we, the public scrutinized the Government’s actions and inactions and criticized the measures adopted by the Govt. to control the spread of covid-19, there are many instances which show the picture otherwise. Though the Govt. is faced with the gruelling task of steering the economy and keeping the virus at bay, it has fared exceedingly well by implementing a well balanced action plans with indomitable spirit. After all the state Governments have declared lockdowns and semi-lockdowns till 31st of March, the Prime Minister has now declared #NationalLockdown for the next 21 days starting from 25th of March 2020. As rightly said by the PM, there is no alternate options but to #StayHome and #StaySafe. Except for the medical infrastructures, which too is expected to show positive developments after the allocation of Rs. 15000 Crore, the Govt. has done most of what is possible in its hand.
Many people have rightly pointed out our inordinate delay in fighting corona virus; especially our dealings with in-bound foreign travellers- both Indians and foreigners. That concern no longer exists and we are now in a stage beyond pointing fingers and throwing accusations. The Government has made necessary advisories and has initiated social distancing and personal hygiene initiatives. What about the public? Have we done our part? For, the fight against Corona is surely not the Government’s alone. We have equal, if not greater roles to play. There are concerns raised by many people regarding the availability of essential items for the common men and also the plight of those daily-wage labourers during the lock-down. While the Government in general and state Governments in particular have assured the public of ensuring the availability of essential goods and services, the concern for labourers and wage earners will require collective efforts from the state as well as civil based organisations and ‘religious and charitable institutes’.
It is understandable the hesitation and fear to face lockdown, more so isolation and self-quarantine. But the same way we expect our Government to shut offices and schools and save stranded Indians overseas, it is obligatory on our part at the least, to quarantine ourselves- to stay home and to stay safe. Most importantly, to contained the virus in the unfortunate event of us getting the infection. Media is flooded by a story of an infected boy from Kolkata who visited many places after testing positive with covid-19. Then, there are instances of people fleeing from hospital isolation-wards. We can witness the fear and anxiety people attached with ‘isolation’.
There are lots of initiatives that can be taken, especially by the more known personalities- to not just educate people about the necessity of ‘isolation’ and ‘public distancing’ but to convey a message that,’ it is not scary and perfectly normal.’ This is a time when we look up to celebrities to be our role models. In contrast, a celebrity singer, Ms. Kanika Kapoor, who landed in India from London on the 9th of March 2020 allegedly bypassed Government’s directive of self-quarantine for a minimum 14 days for all travellers from infected nations and had even attended a party. The singer expectedly was slammed by twiterrati when she announced on 20th of March 2020 that she has tested positive for the virus. The thought of many people thus having possible chances of contacting the virus as a result of her alleged negligence is frightening. While Kanika Kapoor in her defense has claimed that she informed concerned authorities about her travels and in fact insisted herself for the test to be conducted, many people find it unacceptable for a person of her stature to disregard basic preventive norms. There will be hundreds like her who have evaded screening process for the virus and while it is only human to err, one hopes the incident teaches people, especially the celebrated personalities to be not just responsible but exemplary worth emulating by the public.
Some people mocked the Government for its just concluded ‘Janta curfew’ by saying that the fight against Corona virus will take more than just clapping and a one-day national shutdown. While that is true, what most people overlook is the fact that the initiative has aroused the much needed public -awareness about the virus, apart from acknowledging the selfless dedication and sacrifices of the healthcare workers and other essential service providers. Also, worth mentioning is the simple fact that the observance of ‘Janta Curfew’ in no ways imply that the Government’s initiative is restricted to that one day. Schools and offices remained shut; lockdowns continue to exist; social distancing and self-quarantine guideline are still in place. What is more? The Indian railways have suspended its services and all flights; both domestic and international are cancelled. In fact, it was some people, who, contrary to the purpose of the observance, defy social distancing norms and took to streets the drumming and clapping exercise. That surely is not the Government’s fault.
The fight against Coronavirus will require efforts from the public as much as from the Government. Advisories are of no use, if flaunted at will. The onus now is on the public to render all possible help to the concerned authorities. Putting the blame on the Government may be easy but we all know this fight will not be easy. This seemingly unwinnable fight does not require our herculean efforts though. A small initiative on our part, as simple as maintaining social distancing will go a long way. Honestly, that could be the only weapon, with which we can effectively control the deadly corona virus. ‘Yes, together we can’ seems the right message right now.
(The writer is author of the book HILLY DREAMS)