Once upon a time, Emperor Akbar asked his advisor, Birbal, for one statement that holds true at all times. Birbal took a while to respond and said, “This will pass too….”. Today, the entire world is living in quarantine hoping and praying for the same. Never before have so many countries experienced something of this sort as they have during this time of the corona pandemic. This outbreak has challenged the supremacy of us human beings, who took pride and had set out to conquer the world and are now forced to stay quarantined indoors because of this contagious disease.
As difficult the time is, it requires collective action on part of every citizen. India is ramping up its efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Hon’ble Prime Minister is right when he says that the damaging power of Coronavirus should not be underestimated. It is not a challenge only for governments but for the people too. An “I don’t care attitude” will be dangerous to not only the person having this attitude but to thousands of people around. In South Korea, a lady who is now known as the Patient 31, did not adhere to the norms of social distancing and self isolation. Things have gone downhill for the country ever since. We have to make sure that we learn from their mistakes.
India, so far has been doing a commendable job in taking adequate measures like imposing 21-day nationwide lockdown, restricting international travel, encouraging and mandating work-from-home wherever possible, shutting down educational institutions, malls, theatres etc. The 21-day nationwide lockdown will not only help India pace up the fight against COVID-19, but will also put India on the path of becoming the first democratic nation to overcome the pandemic completely. This will give hope to the rest of the world and also demonstrate the strength of India’s diversified yet unified social fabric.
Of what experts opine, India is yet to reach stage three, which is the community transmission stage. Things will get a lot worse if we reach stage three and all citizens of India have a responsibility to stay indoors to limit the spread and avoid reaching stage three. The fact that the virus spreads when an infected person comes in contact with an uninfected person, calls for necessary measures like avoiding physical contact, not touching one’s own face, washing hands regularly, wearing a mask, disinfecting our premises and most importantly staying indoors.
The Government of India is also taking necessary measures to limit the economic damage to the nation’s GDP. Reserve Bank of India has reduced the repo rate by 75 basis points and proposed to inject liquidity of Rs. 3.74 lakh crores in the Indian economy. The financial relief package will benefit over 20.4 crore women Jan Dhan account holders by providing them with Rs. 500 every month for the next 3 months. The government will also provide 3 crore senior citizens, widows and ‘divyangs’ with Rs. 1,000 to ensure they are able to access basic necessities.
As we have observed during the janta curfew, everyone came out to their balconies and windows, to appreciate all the work our doctors, nurses and every person at the forefront combating the pandemic is doing. The Corona warriors are no less than an incarnation of a spiritual power, if not more, at a time when doors of all shrines too, have been closed given the situation. In this terrifying situation, these frontline heroes are no less than Gods in white attire.
Such challenging times also give rise to a lot of speculation and rumours which can prove to be detrimental. The current scenario is not just a test of the agencies dealing with the situation, but also a test for us citizens to step up and do our bit by staying indoors. Do not let panic and speculation spread. Only follow the advice and guidelines issued by the state and central authorities, and this time shall soon be behind us. Stay indoors and help each other to overcome this challenging time, for this too shall pass.
-Dr. Vikas Mahatme is a BJP MP from Rajya Sabha and a Padma Shri awardee