Pandemic saga: Desperate attempt to sell old wine in a new bottle

Sep 26, 2022

Routinely, a section defies government orders, States defy Central orders, farmers defy farm laws. With the same equation, if people defy orders of lockdown, unafraid of infection and finding it unnecessary, a legible question of what is immoral in it is unanswerable.

Politicians and bureaucrats have become great fans of the highly disgusting and notorious word “lockdown“, which appeared in Maharashtra’s air again amid the “rising number” of Covid-19 cases. At the fag-end of February 2021, eleven months after the doomed lockdown was set out, the threat of a similar lockdown would only mean hell. According to Dr Giridhara Babu, an epidemiologist, “Lockdown was necessary in March 2020 as the health system had to be upgraded to ensure adequate oxygen supplies, medicines as well as human resources.” After settling everything down and people finding no difficulty even without vaccinations, we see a topsy-turvy. Roiled in the rising number of infections, some States, using their own set of rules for entry and exit of people, act like erstwhile local princely states with absolute power.

It is common sense. A rotten product cannot be sold in fascinating packs to fool people ever. None will buy it more than once. With fabricated ghosts, people cannot be fooled. They will come to their rationale sooner than later.

God forbid the ghost called lockdown. Every day, lawmakers threaten hapless people who are struggling to recover from shocks, with an action of another lockdown, a shoddy action that unequivocally proved unwanted. The spread of Covid-19 could only mean reactivation of the vigorous counting of victims and acceleration of testing, which has become a business. That shouldn’t stop blaming the people for their responsibility in being careless.

Experts also reported having said a lockdown was unnecessary. In many of my blogs in the past, I pleaded for localised containment instead of a blind nation-wide lockdown, so that the rest could live without fear. Now experts also talk about “micro-containment.” How much we lost in the miscalculation is not quantifiable. Media also reports wrong parallels with highly infected European countries. Most of the countries are not geographically comparable with India’s Covid-19 untouched rural countryside. Lockdown was now discovered to be necessary for the healthcare system to prepare for meeting pandemic requirements.

Everyone knew, when everything was opened, a spike was imminent. Nevertheless, we need to recall the homily of the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Maharashtra advising us to learn the art of living with the pandemic. That was an indirect indication of the government’s admission that lockdown was not the sole solution anymore to stem the rot of the pandemic. That might have been the reason the government decided to lift the lockdown step-by-step when the numbers stood at the top. Thus, there could be no reason to talk again about the notorious term, “lockdown“ that devastated millions of workers in the unorganised sector.

The gradual withdrawal of restrictions is prone to an increase in cases of infection, which the government is also aware of. The government is also aware of the damages inflicted on people by the lockdown. Yet the threatening with the imposition of another lockdown is either an irresponsible gesture or a show of the typical ruling class arrogance.

In today’s context, a lockdown in India’s financial capital, where people brave every disaster and live a normal life, is not an easily workable proposition. Earlier the lockdown was a success because of public fear. Today people are not afraid of the virus. Let’s not forget, Mumbai inherently always shows immense resilience to natural calamities and terrorist attacks. People never stop working. But the lockdown forced on them had made them sit at home. That was the biggest tragedy in each of Mumbaikars’ memorable history.

As the impacts of the pandemic continue to remain uneased, many people remain hungrier and angrier. Many of them have lost everything they earned in their life. Under any circumstance, they need to work for their living. They do not prefer to keep their family in hunger over the fear of Covid-19. People were unafraid only because their priority was to make an earning to meet both ends. They were ready to live with it. As people restarted their works and many were searching for a job, it was unlikely that they would be ready to respond to the call for a lockdown. I am afraid they would rebel against every order of lockdown or vent their anger in some ways if such an action is forced on people. Let’s be positive and stay with the hope that the government would uphold prudence.

I don’t think the government would claim that it was because of the lockdown the number of Covid-19 cases began to fall. When India declared the lockdown the number of cases was in hundreds and many States had no cases reported. The tight lockdown days saw the cases of infection soaring to a staggering size. I had mentioned this fact in many of my earlier blogs. It was at the very time, the lockdown was relaxed seemingly under economic pressures. The relaxation coincided with a fall in the number of infections. Experts had mentioned that hospitalisation was one of the attributes to higher mortality. For that reason, healthy workers became more vulnerable to virulence.

Rehabilitation of several hundred thousand workers, who lost everything and plunged into poverty, is a Herculean task. Whether they can be rehabilitated ever or will their situation be back to the pre-Covid-19 is a doubt. Economic numbers and tax statistics may return to the old position in no time as the rich are becoming richer. Though the Maharashtra government reported a fall in revenue, it is only a revenue loss for the State exchequer. The lawmakers are still richer. They still have ways to be richer by keeping the people under fear. The fear can push demand for anti-pandemic materials, strictures for medicine and lab tests by designated categories. Decision-makers have their golden days.

That cannot be an indication of the inclusive recovery. The situation on the ground is grim. Another lockdown can make it not only grimmer but also a foul, as foul as the State government’s dissenting of Central decisions, like the farm bills. Some States defy the Central orders which they feel underserve their interest. If people also employ the same equation, their defiance of lockdown also cannot be ruled as immoral. Those who castigated lockdown initially calling it too hasty a decision is now contemplating a lockdown. It is time to check and balance the decisions and trim down contradictions in decisions.

The world has accepted the fact that India is the world’s pharmacy. The Ayurveda had made India so, long ago, which neither ourselves nor the world had recognised. At least now, for some reasons, the truth is recognised in another way.

India is the world’s largest vaccine maker. In India, the credit goes to Pune, wherefrom the largest dosage of vaccine is made and shipped around the world. When the demand peaked, the city was brought under a night curfew. Even though the production process may not be hit by the night curfew, the vaccine headquarter is put to face a contradiction. At the very time, the vaccine is out and inoculation is going on in the accelerated phase, a fear in the air remains thicker. Everyone knows fear triggers a demand for a delusionary solution. Thus, settled the concern of hesitancy. However our unspeakable inner mind is struggling with reality. The pandemic and vaccination thus turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

Let’s continue the habit of wearing a mask that Covid-19 taught us. So polluted is our environment that has necessitated what the lesson of Covid-19 imparted to us. Had our rulers shown the same amount of care that they seemingly tried to show on us to the environment, a disaster called global warming, flooding of financially rich-towns like Mumbai, which is bigger than the pandemic, we could have averted other more serious and periodically revisiting disasters.