R Chandra Prakash
Mysuru: In the past, we the citizens have faced national challenges during the 1962 Chinese aggression, during the wars with Pakistan in 1965, 1971 or 1999 Kargil war as also during the devastating shortages due to droughts. We responded in a united way and contributed our mite to strengthen the hands of the contemporary government. We have also confronted political turmoil such as the Emergency period and shown our maturity and stoicism. But the Covid-19 has thrown an unprecedented challenge to the nation, unlike anything in the past.
Its elusiveness, longer incubation time, difficulties in quick diagnosis, fastness of its spread and high mortality rate makes Covid-19 a highly challenging problem, both for the governments and the citizens. The governments have to weigh between the costs of the deterring economic consequences and the dislocation of normal life activities if immediate preventive actions are taken; and the uncertainties of the extent of damage that could be caused by this infection in case the government delays making decisions. Whichever the steps the government takes, the consequences on the citizens will be severe. Hence, the citizens’ partnership with the government in dealing with Covid-19 is very crucial.
One has to be honest in assessing the citizens’ responses to the challenges of Covid-19. And therefore, we can divide responses broadly into two categories – 1. Those who fully understood the diabolic consequences Covid-19 and co-operated by strictly following the periodic suggestions/instructions of the government. And 2. Those who had their own personal compulsions, apprehensions and were unable to adhere to the government’s directions
- Those who fully understood the diabolic consequences Covid-19 and co-operated by strictly following the periodic suggestions/instructions of the government.
Lockdown by itself was a first time experience of the citizens in the recent history. It involved unprecedented inconveniences for a long period. Staying at home and maintaining normal life within the four walls of the house was not an easy thing to do. Further the economic consequences of the citizens, particularly wage earners, small business owners as also other professionals were very high.
Yet we can conveniently say that more than 95 per cent of the country’s citizens preferred to follow the government’s instructions. Examples: The way people responded to the appeal of the Prime Minister to recognize and applaud the services of the Covid Warriors by clapping and ringing the bells on 22nd March; the way the majority of the citizens responded to the first Lockdown [ from 25th March till 14th April] announced by the Prime Minister on 24th March; the way majority of the citizens accepted the extension of the Lockdown period from 15 March till 3rd May. The way large sections of the country accepted social distancing, wearing masks and thoroughly washing of hands and other steps. By and large, the traffic on the streets was scarce, shops and establishments were closed.
- Those who had their own personal compulsion, apprehensions and were unable to adhere to the government’s direction.
Our urban centers are serviced by a large section of migrant labor, those who come from rural areas or even from distant states. These citizens live in very frugal ways and on week to week basis. For them every day is a working and earning day. Lockdown deprives them of this earning and social security.
Country saw an exodus of sorts from various metropolitan cities soon after the Lockdown was announced. As transportation facilities were also locked down, these migrant laborers started walking with their families and small wherewithal. These were very poignant scenes on the media and sources of anti-India propaganda in the western media.
However, apprehensions of these migrant workers were genuine, they simply wanted to return to the security of their villages, their own abodes. The state governments were taken unawares. However, within a short period of time the issue was solved. Some states made arrangements for their transport back home and some states made arrangements for their accommodation and boarding.
Then there is also a small segment of our population which could not comprehend the lurking danger of this contagion and continued their activities which lead to the speeding-up of the spread all over the country.
All these segments of the citizens were looking large on the televisions, but in the total population of the country they could be counted within five per cent. And they were the one who were unable to adhere to the notifications mainly due to their compulsions, ignorance and apprehensions.
On the whole, after 28 days of Lockdown, if the number of positive cases is still less than 20,000 and deaths are less than 600, credit must be given to the way a large majority of our citizens responded to the call of the national and regional leadership. Citizens have gone through and also going through a very hard time, but they are putting up with stoicism and resolve. Pointing out at a small deviation from this truth would be doing injustice to these citizens. –