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Covid-19 battle should be fought from every home and not left to ‘Warriors’ alone

8/08/2020 at 7:54 PM

May the policeman and 90% of the civil society come together against the 10% violators, and keep Covid out of the door. The battle should be fought from every home and not left to the Covid Warriors. It is deplorable to push these warriors to the jaws of death due to our own indiscretion and indiscipline.

The Covid story continues like a multi-episode thriller. Everybody is looking at the daily numbers of fresh cases, deaths, recoveries etc. with bated breath. Vaccine news is lurking within tantalising distance. The doctors and policemen are fighting the pandemic at great personal risk. The Administration is feverishly brandishing its sword against the wave of infection like it were an enormous flood.

In this state of flux, we are forgetting a basic fact. That the disease has to be fought at an individual level to begin with, as much as any life threatening disease should be. A communicable disease becomes a pandemic when the individuals give up their responsibility and hand over the problem to the community or the Government. To illustrate the point, if every individual maintains personal hygiene, observes a distance of two meters from the next person and wears a mask while stepping out of the house, there would be much lesser chance of a personal affliction becoming a public one.

In the olden days when people were suffering from deadly killers like small pox and cholera, they dealt with it by isolating the patient and quarantining the family of the deceased for ten to twelve days. They did so with religious discipline and without throwing the neighbours and the society into jeopardy.There was no crashing of the GDP, no breakdown of the economy although the percentage of deaths was much higher and the deceased included the old and the young alike. But lately, the invention of reliable vaccine against such deadly epidemics has lulled us into a cavalier life style which is not amenable to self-discipline.

When Covid 19 hit the world, there was little data on its true magnitude and potential except that it is furiously contagious. Hence there was a panic reaction to scamper home as in case of a tsunami or super cyclone. The severe lockdowns and shut downs were inevitable. Fear psychosis had to be resorted to as a steroid against collective waywardness.

Now, after six months of the pandemic, there is some data to analyse the situation. The Government is stating that only 10% of the people are not obeying the prescribed guidelines. Then, is it fair to the remaining 90% of the population to herd them into repeated lockdowns for no fault of theirs?

It is time the Administration changed its strategy from mass targeting to individual targeting, from mass punishment to individual caning. It should come down heavily against those who do not obey the norms and make an example out of them. It is this strategy by the Police against the violators of the Motor Vehicles Act which created a stir and paid rich dividends including control of overall crime. A one-month campaign of non-discretionary enforcement of public violations will be more fruitful than a month-long lockdown which has enormous collateral damage. Such a strategy is easier to implement and less likely to invite public indignation.

The society, in its turn, should discipline itself by encouraging individuals to maintain distance from one another – which is indeed the true meaning of “social distancing”. Public gathering should be stopped, howsoever important the occasion may be. People should avoid meeting each other and it should not be misconstrued as rude behaviour. Violation of guidelines should be openly condemned. Individuals should not jostle with each other while buying fish or vegetables which is a common sight, even during a lockdown. It is not a sign of smartness to be able to hoodwink the policeman. The policeman is getting no pleasure from such enforcement. In fact, he is doing it with much trepidation since he is risking his own contamination too.

May the policeman and 90% of the civil society come together against the 10% violators, and keep Covid out of the door. The battle should be fought from every home and not left to the Covid Warriors. It is deplorable to push these warriors to the jaws of death due to our own indiscretion and indiscipline.

BK PatnaikFormer Chief Secretary of Odisha

DISCLAIMER:  This is the personal views of the author. It has nothing to do with prameyanews.com.

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