What exactly is happening as from past month the Covid-infections have suddenly spiked? Why is the rise limited only to Maharashtra which, according to a report, has 8 of the 10 most affected districts in the country? Why is the state CM engaged in double-speak; threatening to enforce LockDown in the morning and trusting the peoples; self-restraint in the evening? While the vaccination drive has gathered momentum why are the vaccinated subject to restrictions on travel? Why are the police charging fines for not wearing masks when international health experts have agreed that masks should be mandatory only in crowded zones? What has been standardised as sure symptoms of an infection; and if such is the case why are people just blanketly certified as infected? Why is there sudden backtracking over the 2nd vax shot which has been now put off to 6 to 8 weeks when originally it was to follow after 4 weeks? Worse still why is the central government in a hurry to vax all over 45 years when statistics suggest that maximum infection rate is recorded in the young-between 25 and 35 years. Are the so-called experts blind to the fact that this age group is the most mobile and free and distrustful of social distancing; hence naturally more vulnerable?
There seems to be a general agreement now that the LockDown overkill served no purpose and the remedy was worse than the malady, The central government seems to have shamelessly passed the burden to the states, and the states, in their turn are passing the onus to local bodies like municipal corporations which generally have the worst touts and sharks as city fathers!
When education had virtually stopped for three-quarters of the year why is there talk of admissions to the nest year is not the reluctance of parents to send children to schools a result of the state-sponsored and spread dread of the virus in the first phase of the war on Covid-19?
Leave aside answering them nobody seems to ponder these questions! The PM and the home ministers see Mamata coming back to power in West Bengal as a deadlier virus and have vowed to uproot her.
They also have resolved to use saam-daam-dand-bhed modus operandi in neighbouring Assam. There is no end to daily mud-slinging and invectives are invented like a creative exercise. Maharashtra is not just the topper in Covid-19, now it is the topper in its police losing face as a senior police officer has alleged that the state home minister personally allotted monthly targets of haftas to the police; 50 crores from Mumbai!
The CM lives in a world of his own under the paralysing protection of Sharad Pawar- his adoptive political father who, as always, is busy in blunting corruption charges against his loyalists: yet for once we see him dodging pointed issues like the present muck the home minister has engineered!
While Maharashtra and Delhi are under constant surveillance underdeveloped states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are conducting their business in total defiance of Covid-19 restrictions. As if to rub salt in the wound U P is preparing for the Kumbha to be held this year. Once the pilgrims throng the site all un-holy behaviour is bound to break loose. The sudden recent upsurge in religious functions all over the country is a sure pointer to what might happen at the Kumbha.
Who should we fight first: Covid-19 or the self-centred callous lot we put in power?
To be realistic, we can fight neither and just have to live with them. The next elections to parliament are three years away and there is reason to believe that the NDA might avail of another grace year if the C-19 crisis continues. The virus has been defying all research as the recent emergence of its UK variety has testified. Vaccination is at least a rational measure necessitated by the pan-demic though there is a wide variety of the vaccine and all must be on a trial basis till studies of their impact are possible.
Looking at things as they stand we as responsible citizens should practise neither sheep-like submission to the state initiatives nor oppose it in the name of individual freedom. here are some suggestions; more are welcome.
Get vaccinated at the earliest; pay for it if you can.
Try to normalise everyday life with adequate adherence to safety norms; do not panic.
Follow statistics before drawing conclusions; statistics will show that a high infection rate does not imply a high death rate.
Insist on working for Your livelihood; attend office if working from home is not feasible.
Avoid all actions which may hinder the economy; allow production, manufacturing, trade, marketing to gather momentum.
Refuse freebies of all kinds: the economy cannot take the burden anymore.
Send children to educational institutions with proper precautions: this will compensate for the damage to socialisation done by the LockDown.
Participate in other social activities with due observance of restrictions: do not withdraw into a comfort-cocoon.
The service sector and the daily-workers have suffered the worst last year: be kind and if possible generous in dealing with them.
Do not fall for the politicisation of the issue: Covid-19 is absolutely beyond their limited perception and the louder they talk the stupider they will be proved.
Stay at a safe distance from ALL PROPHETS of DOOM; the future is in our hands and shall be as bright as we make it!
Globally, the death rates have declined after the initial spikes: Covid-19 is a tough adversary without doubt but it can be contained and possibly eradicated.
- Vinay Hardikar
(The writer has been working in the public sphere of Maharashtra for the last five decades. His versatile personality has several dimensions, but the primary ones remain to be that of an established writer, journalist, editor, critic, activist, and teacher.)