COVID 19 — Despite all initial efforts, are we heading towards a self-invited disaster?

Despite all initial efforts, are we heading towards a self- planned disaster, now?

*Tejinder Singh Bedi

Are they 15000 or more, any guesses?

As expected, Honourable Prime Minister, Modi ji has extended the nation wide lock down forced by the unabated continuing spread of the dreaded COVID 19 all across our country till May 03 today, closely on the heels of a similar decision already announced by a few of our States during the week gone by, well in advance of the closing date of its first phase due to end tomorrow i.e. April 15.

With the humanity thus supported to survive, economies are sure to bounce back again sooner or later though it can never be so the other ways around.

While the existing fears about the huge dent such hard measures are going to make in the economy of any nation compelled to opt for the same are largely both logical and primarily more materialistic and commercial, as I have always maintained in all my posts and write ups on the subject in the past — these are definitely going to prove to be much better choices in the overall interest of humanity in the longer run.

The entire onus for the success of these bitter pills however vests with the citizens of each country themselves alone, as no government in the first instance itself likes to use brutal force to force its own public indoors; when unavoidable except through advisories, public broadcasts and invocation of certain provisions of their social laws.

However, in our context, it has been rather very unfortunate that after the announcement of the first phase of lock down from March 24, we have had to witness huge turn outs of first our migrant labor in Anand Vihar and next at a religious congregation at Hazrat Nizamuddin in our Capital itself defying all advisories & directives of the government — which were widely telecast on most national channels together with different stories of the immense damage caused by these to the overall national efforts for faster containment of the spread of the dreaded virus. And not to discount many other such reports from many other States too that obviously can not get the same level of coverage on national TV channels as the capital of the country can secure.

While one might say that the first announcement was almost sudden and gave very little preparation or lead time to large numbers of persons staying put in various metro cities including the NCR that offer seasonal or partially regular or temporary employment opportunities to such people coming from far flung lesser developed States or regions, the same can definitely not be said for the massive outburst of almost 15000 persons ( or may be even more) almost suddenly converging at one common point in Bandra in Mumbai just a few hours ago that can break the backbone of all the good work done both by the Central as well as the Maharashtra Government towards containing the spread of COVID 19 there so far.

It will not be wrong to state that ours may be the only nation across the entire planet fighting with this menace erupting from Wuhan in China where such large scale violations are still happening despite a first hand knowledge of how this disease has been killing thousands of unsuspecting people almost everywhere across the globe by now and within India too since its first outbreak here.

It is strange that one of the most important calls made by the Prime Minister at 10 in the morning cautioning all citizens that the next few days upto April 20 will be monitored on the ground even more strictly and minutely to check for any violations of the safety measures and strictness enforced upon free movement of the common public before reviewing any region, especially hot clusters for any relaxations has not been taken note of with any seriousness.

The rationale being put forth in sections of prominent media “as a demand of the migrant daily wagers to be sent home as a massive protest” does not seem tenable too unless the local leadership there had completely failed to connect with them after the experience of the last 20 days of the first phase of the lock down — for all the reassurances required for promising and providing free meals and basic minimal life support at least until the period they remain stuck wherever they are besides a phased and a diligently planned manner of their repatriation under a fool proof security and safety cover as soon as or at the first opportune moment possible.

The Center and the States need to coordinate better if the country has to fight this menace out fast collectively and today’s fiasco in Mumbai which already has the highest number of COVID 19 affected cases at 1500, (more than 50 % of 2300 plus in the entire State of Maharashtra) and in the country,

What if this spreads to other areas too now? It is unbelievable that in any zone under containment, or curfew or S144 or lockdown, people can assemble in such huge numbers without being noticed by the entire law and order machinery as much as by the local political brass there, even if such migrant populace may not strike as an electoral bounty there in their minds.

At least in today’s pandemic health scare scenario there should not be any scope for any blame games, political mileage and even communal biases or angles in projecting any failures or successes as otherwise the nation at large might lose its fight with this surprise enemy — not of any political party or community but of the entire human race today.

And one does hope that the efforts to save the political capital as well as both the economic and the entertainment capital of the country has to be with the same collective might today! Else, we might soon be heading towards a self invited disaster despite all initial efforts?

(*Author Tejinder Singh Bedi is a former technocrat, a people management, CSR Adviser, free-lance writer and a passionate singer)