By Vijay Darda | 05-04-2021
A look at the crowd of lakhs attending election rallies and Kumbh makes people feel that nothing really happens, let it go on like this!
The second wave of coronavirus sweeping across the country has once again raised the question as to which one will you choose: Economic destruction or life? It is obvious that one will opt for life, “Jaan hain to jahan hain”. You will be able to fight back if you will remain safe and alive! However, the truth is that our economy does not have the strength to suffer yet another lockdown. The question then is what we need to do? How to save people’s lives?
Neither the Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray nor anyone else in the government is in favour of imposing a lockdown. Nobody supports a lockdown! But the question is what to do when people stop following the precautions to stave off the coronavirus? What is the option? In my opinion, the only option is to take a very strict action against those who do not wear masks and those who do not maintain a safe distance. Just collecting a fine will do nothing. Authorities have collected Rs 49 crore towards fine just from those who did not wear masks in Mumbai.
We assume that the air travellers are educated and responsible, but I see that though the air hostess keeps screaming at the top of her voice, appealing the fliers to wear a mask and shield saying it is compulsory, no one wears a mask. Everyone ignores the appeal of the air hostess. When the aeroplane lands, the air hostess appeals to the passengers to get down according to the seat number, but they literally scurry as if the plane will run away if they don’t rush out! Those who do not follow the Covid protocol during travel should be banned from travelling. Guidelines will have to be strictly enforced if the spread of coronavirus is to be checked. People will think twice before violating the Covid protocol when severe punishment would stare them in the face. It is then that people will wear masks and follow the safe distancing norms too. There is a very old saying – There is no love without fear!
But the question is why have people become so careless? It is indeed surprising when most people in society become careless! In fact, people see that nothing happens when lakhs of people gather in the election rallies and public meetings in various states, lakhs of people gather at the Kumbh Mela and thousands of spectators pack the Ahmedabad stadium to capacity during two matches with no observance of social distancing anywhere and nobody wearing a mask. Naturally they take coronavirus for granted! Prevalence of this kind of feeling is certainly very dangerous. Surprisingly, no one raised questions on such crowded events. In Ahmedabad, the stadium was packed to capacity during both the matches. When some spectators got infected with coronavirus, the third match was played without an audience. Why such carelessness?
Why did the Election Commission not ban election rallies and public meetings? Why did the court not take suo motu cognisance? The question also is why no political party thought that rallies and meetings should be avoided during the ongoing run of pandemic. These parties could also make their point known to the public through the media! The irony is that on one hand there is a crowd of thousands and lakhs and on the other, the number of people attending the funeral procession and marriage ceremony has been restricted to 20 and 50 respectively. When people see these contradictions, endless questions pop up in their minds and they begin to question the guidelines. They wonder if the coronavirus infects people in the areas where rules are followed? It is then that people tend to become careless!
It goes without saying that until and unless the people mend their behaviour, the spread of coronavirus cannot be curbed. The government also has its limitations. There were only 8,000 beds in Maharashtra government hospitals before the corona pandemic broke out. Today its number has gone up to about 1.75 lakh, yet there are so many corona patients that they are finding it difficult to get beds. Today, even if the government increases the number of beds, the question is, from where will the doctors and paramedical staff come to attend to these patients? However, many people say that doctors and paramedical staff should be summoned to Maharashtra from other states.
We should not forget that even during the first wave, the incidence of coronavirus was very high and virulent in Maharashtra and the situation remains unaltered during the second wave as well. You may recall that a team of experts dispatched by the Centre had come to Maharashtra to find out why the coronavirus epidemic is wreaking havoc in Maharashtra only. The analysis of the past events revealed that the western part of the line dividing the country by a line, and especially Maharashtra, had been affected more by the epidemics in the past. It is obvious that we should be more vigilant.
We are witness to how corona pandemic has ruined everyone. The medical system has collapsed. Lakhs of people have lost their jobs. Businesses are ruined. The backbone of the private education system has been broken. When they don’t receive the fees, how can they pay the salary to the teachers? Now think what will happen if the lockdown is imposed again? Obviously all will be ruined! To put it in simple language, just before corona, our GDP was in a condition to grow at the rate of 7 per cent. Corona pushed it down to minus 23 per cent. That is, if we add 7 per cent growth to it, then our GDP has lost about 30 per cent in the last financial year. The economy can not stand more than this. So it is important that we take precautions so that the lockdown is not imposed again.
One thing I also want to tell the government is that the process of vaccination should be accelerated and every person above 18 years of age should get the vaccine immediately by removing the age restrictions. Since the Central government is handling the vaccination drive, it is its responsibility to ensure that there is no shortage of vaccines in any state. Especially the badly affected Maharashtra should get the vaccine as soon as possible. Once we have vaccinated 80 per cent of our population, herd immunity will set in. But keep in mind that even after that, social distancing and mask will remain our biggest weapons against corona. We have to learn to live with it. If you are negligent, the situation will get worse.
To conclude, I express my gratitude to the corona warriors, doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, police and frontline workers who left no stone unturned in performing their duties despite great risk to their lives. Show gratitude to them by putting on masks and following social distancing!