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Hope it’s not a delayed action

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on March 29, 2020 with No Comments

The corona virus pandemic is making a bigger footprint in India every day, and the way it is being handled it is unmatched!  As of now, there are ???? confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India. The medical experts believe that it’s just the tip of the iceberg as India is only following those with a foreign travel history and not even been testing adequately. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to politically apart West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to  Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, everyone agrees that the virus has to be fought on.

Prime Minister Modi addressed last Thursday by speaking to the nation through a live telecast speech and letting them know the gravity of the situation. Self-isolation, he said, is necessary. Indians were told to observe a ‘Janata Curfew’ or a self-imposed curfew Sunday and clap on balconies or clang plates to cheer blue collar workers and medical staff at 5 pm.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took a proactive action. He has a mass appeal. Seven years back Indians gave up their cooking gas subsidy on his call, and his appeal for Janata Curfew was an astute one. Modi created a magic and Indians went to self isolations for a day. However, some of them undid what Indians did for good 10 hours. Modi had asked Indians to clapping and plate clanging to applaud the medical professionals and specially mentioned that “carry this out from your balconies”. However, social media is flooded with the 5-pm plate clanging and clapping happing with the kind of pomp and show that the Indians are known for doing at a marriage celebration or while celebrating Diwali.  People came out of their homes on to the streets to ‘come together’ against the disease. In addition, that destroyed the whole point of the exercise. Instead of celebrating the medical heroes, they ended up annulling exactly what they asked us to do, which is, to be responsible citizens maintain the much desired social distance and avoid community transmission. Indians got carried away, as Prime Minister did not ask them to stay in put, and not to come out at 5pm for the clapping and plate clanging. Instead of celebrating the medial heroes, those who came out have only added to the problem of the medical professionals that too with a domino effect. 

India has its own set of unique challenges. Poor sanitation, second largest population of which forty percent live in slums, larger number of human contacts, low disease immunity of slum dwellers, besides inadequate medical facilities. With an average of one in six city residents living in slums where population densities vary between 277,136 persons per square kilometre (sq km) in Dharavi to 125,000 persons per sq km at the Rasolpoora slum in Hyderabad. Under these circumstances, the need of social distancing is the only solution. The celebratory mode on the evening of March 22 has poised yet other challenges.

The fact is that India is now possibly in the third state of the pandemic, though the government has not acknowledged that yet.  The dreaded novel corona virus has spread deep into India. Only an alert, attentive society that cares for others can save itself. In challenging times like this, the leadership does matter. President Donald Trump would be remembered for his careless handling of corona virus in the US, and Prime minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong for this timely action –where no lockdown had to be carried out. India is handling what China, Korea did three months back. There are learnings that Prime Minister Modi can make use of, It would be upto him how he would like to be remembered for India’s fight against corona virus. One wonders his second announcement of complete lockdown starting March 25 is not a delayed action and delivers results sooner.

 

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