Beyond the News - FACT Analysis

Have we learnt no lessons whatsoever?

Gurjot Singh Kaler, Superintendent of Police (SP), Mohali

Since last two years, the world has witnessed a catastrophe like never before in the form of Corona virus pandemic that has unleashed enormous destruction and devastation everywhere. Around 19.3 crore cases have been detected with corona-virus across the globe and out of these, 41.4 lakh deaths have occurred. In India itself, around 3.13 crore cases have been infected with corona-virus and out of these, 4.2 lakh deaths have succumbed to death.

When the pandemic started, the world watched the events in dismay, horror and hopelessness. The hustle-bustle of life came to a screeching halt, busy cities witnessed a closure, shopping malls and business houses were shut down all of a sudden. Everyone was asked to pack themselves in isolation from each-other. Suddenly, the priorities of human-beings had changed overnight. From accumulating wealth and seeking worldly achievements, the goalposts of the humanity miraculously shifted towards realizing the ultimate importance of the true value of living the human life. Face masks, sanitizers, social distancing and home quarantine suddenly became common words of vocabulary. The world seemed united in its individual differences to tackle this common enemy of humanity. Air flights were shut down, airports wore a deserted look, roads were emptied out and penalty-oriented legislations were immediately brought into action to ensure that people followed the covid related protocols and behavior in letter and spirit.

Now, let’s fast-forward this to year 2021.  The pandemic is still not over officially. People are still dying and new cases of new variants of corona-virus are emerging on and off. But there seems to be a sea-change in behavior as far as the seriousness of the issue is concerned. The ultra-important case here is of India, a country with the world’s largest population. Everybody knows that we became a cruel target, more aptly, a laughing stock of the entire world when we started exposing our lack of knowledge in tackling the corona-virus. The lack of state-of-the-art medical facilities was a shameful realization of the hollowness of the chest-thumping ‘Make in India’ sloganeering and patriotic speeches accompanied with noise-producing ‘thaali-bajao’ (plates beating) campaigns.  All the hospitals, in cities, towns, villages and suburb areas were overflowing with patients and dead-bodies. Such horrendous scenes whereby people were dying outside on the roads due to lack of oxygen are not a thing of long past, but only a recent memory. Oxygen cylinders were being hoarded and black-marketed as the authorities were grappling with the lifetime crisis to overcome the shortage of basic medicines and injections. Everybody was seen complaining that the health infrastructure had crumpled under the heavy load of patients. However, in reality, the medical facilities had not crumbled but actually got badly exposed to the public. The politicians and bureaucracy had ignored the basic health infrastructure since a long time and it had now got brutally exposed to everyone. As the public health infrastructure faced a virtual collapse, the private hospitals indulged in daylight extortions by fleecing patients as they were charged exorbitant fees for even minor illnesses. Labourers and poor workers across India started moving on foot from far off states to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and innumerable of them died on the roads.  Similarly, events like ‘Kumbh Mela’ and political rallies in West Bengal etc., made a mockery of the covi-related protocols and the cases multiplied beyond control. India, which was earlier trying to gain international appreciation by transporting vaccines to the needy countries, suddenly found itself in an utter state of misery and helplessness as there was an extreme shortage of vaccines for its own people. The handling of the entire pandemic has been seriously unprofessional to say the least. There has been a haphazard and uninspiring approach to tackle the crisis. The sight of dead bodies floating in rivers sent shivers down the spines of any human-being.

Right now also, it is really shocking and deeply perturbing to see that the tourists have started flocking en masse to hill towns like shimla and Mussoorie etc., for vacations despite fully knowing that the threat of corona-virus is not over. It is beyond comprehension that all the precautions are being thrown to the wind. People seem to have conveniently forgotten that we have lost innumerable human lives to the virus and still, people are fighting for hospital beds. Why is it that we have become so criminally complacent in our behavior and personalities that we have stopped caring for the collective good of society? It is unimaginably sad to understand that why some people are still not ready to get vaccinated against the corona-virus and avoiding health safety norms. Marriage functions with thousands of guests have again started like pre-covid times, election rallies are being organized without caring two hoots about the covid-protocols and home quarantines have become a joke of the gatherings. Have we lost respect for the departed souls whom we lost to the corona-pandemic? Such a hypocritical attitude of mankind deserves to bluntly criticized and rectified at the earliest. What are we waiting for? More deaths ? Why have we stopped wearing face masks in the public unless we spot a policeman who has the authority to issue ‘çhallans’ (tickets) to us for violating the covid norms? Do we not care anymore for our own people and the society’s well-being? It is high time that we do a thorough introspection of our behavior and start immediately following the rule of SMS- Social distancing, masks and sanitizers.  The corona crisis is still not over yet and if we continue to remain hell-bent with our careless attitude, we might reduce to ashes all our previous gains made against the pandemic. It is definitely a gross insult to the heartfelt efforts of our doctors, police officers, social workers, journalists and all other frontline workers who have sacrificed their life against the pandemic if we continue to persist with our ‘I do not care’ attitude. We have already done huge damage. Let us behave as responsible human-beings, even if for a limited time-period. Corona-virus is still here. And our lack of cooperation in this grave hour of crisis can turn the things upside down. Doctors are shouting out from the top of hospitals and giving a war-cry that the third wave is coming fast. Are we listening to them and getting ready to face the danger or pretending deaf and dumb to get destroyed? The gospel truth is that nobody can kill us except our own foolishness. Are we ready to learn some lessons from the past or not?
(The writer is also the author of book, ‘New India – The Reality Reloaded’)

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