Fri, 23 Apr 2021 02:12 PM IST
New Delhi | Tarun Gupta: The resurgence of the deadly virus in India has perhaps been as shocking as the original outbreak last year. As a nation, we had erroneously started to believe that the worst was behind and it was time to move on with scant regard to medical protocols. Whether it was Covid fatigue or delusion induced laxity in conduct or altered mutants, the disease has extracted a pound of flesh from our soul.
The macabre scenes inside and outside hospitals and crematoriums have engulfed us in grief. The trauma, the pain of a gaping wound is only accentuated by this realisation that may be the lethality of this second corona wave could have been averted or at least mitigated.
Civil society that is bearing the brunt may itself be held guilty of reckless rather callous behaviour. The moot point though remains if their political leaders lured them into a false sense of complacency? Couldn’t election rallies and religious congregations be easily dispensed with? What was the pressing urgency to conduct panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh before the pandemic was nipped in bud? These are questions that should haunt the powers that be.
Leveling accusations today might seem akin to being wise after the incident. Isn’t governance though a blend of smart hindsight and visionary foresight? Our political executive should have no qualms in confessing that somewhere by believing we had vanquished the virus much before we actually had, a wrong message was given out to public; perhaps a case of judgmental error. This mea culpa, however, is essential, for without it, the much-needed healing touch will not be as soothing. Besides, those who don’t learn from the past, are condemned to repeat.
The Prime Minister in his much awaited and somewhat belated address to the nation attempted to calm nerves and assuage the speculation over lockdown. When the option is between may be dying of the disease and certainly knocked down by poverty, the choice is painful yet clear. It’s high time we internalise that life has go on but it cannot be business as usual. There is no substitute to Covid appropriate behaviour.
The central and state governments on their part have their plates full. Besides testing, tracing, treating the infected and carrying out an expeditious and effective immunisation program, they need to tackle vaccine hesitancy as well. The vaccine naysayers harbour misplaced albeit entrenched notions that will have to be allayed. In our times of information overload, easily accessible half-baked and unsubstantiated reports and theories often add to cynicism. The only potent remedy is cogent communication. From times of polio eradication drive, convincing and appealing communication strategies have helped overcome resistance to inoculation endeavours. Vaccination remains the surest, safest and the solitary way of restoring normalcy.
The onset of Covid in early 2020 served one collateral purpose. It hastened the end of the illegitimate CAA protests. How much time will it be before mass gathering in the name of farm law protest at the Delhi border is brought to an end? People have long suffered this anarchy and no political compulsion or consideration should allow it to continue. Let’s hope in larger public good, the government persuasively or coercively evacuates the protesters.
The initial lockdowns apart from slowing the spread of infection were meant to give us time to upgrade our health infrastructure. We believe our government when they say that our health care is better equipped today than it was a year back. Be that as it may, the poignant incidents of recent past quite clearly reveal that this better is still not good enough.
Our health expenditure needs to increase manifolds and for that we will have to work towards increasing the size of our economy. The keyword here is work. Our country requires action over inertia. No ideology, how much exalted, should impede our progress. The habitual dissenters, demonstrators and protestors and their supporters either in civil society or amongst the political class would serve the nation well by imbibing this philosophy.
In the face of calamity, recrimination has limited utility. How much we wish our political opposition to appreciate that? What a pity for the tone and tenor of some of their criticism to smack of inanity, and still worse, a sense of schadenfreude rather than commiseration? Shouldn’t political opportunism also have some limit in a civil democracy?
There is a saying, ‘some tragedies only have victims, no perpetrators.’ Well, this catastrophe has countless sufferers and innumerable villains. The only silver lining is that in times of distress, civil society has reached out to aid the affected. The spontaneous agglomeration of disparate citizens helping through social media and otherwise, providing pertinent information about hospital beds, oxygen, drugs, plasma donors has sent out a clarion message that we are a compassionate community.
Such mammoth disasters can only be overcome by community integration. May the Almighty grant us the equanimity to endure and resolve to reform. As they say, this too shall pass.
(Disclaimer: The above article has been written by Tarun Gupta. The views expressed in the article are of the author and Jagran New Media does not take the responsibility of the views expressed here)