New Delhi: CÒVID-19 (Coronavirus December-19) name is self-explanatory that the eruption of the virus had well been taken note of in the month of December 2019 by WHO. The mysterious calamity has firstly, been thrust upon mankind emerging in China but in a very fast speed traveled to almost all parts of the globe which thereafter was introduced with a new way of life of lockdown first time from Wuhan. The entire world including the most developed countries has lately felt that no preparation matches either medical challenges of Coronavirus or its aftermath social and economic changes.
Victims of pandemic
The first and foremost victims of the pandemic, as usual, are the aged, poor and deprived people in every country. Though India had suffered with its first case in January itself yet the government mainly faltered and couldn’t rise to occasion due to political reasons as it miserably failed to timely act seeing clear writing on wall and continued normal functions till 21st of March a day before “Janata Curfew.”
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, leaving his own country in mid of ensuing pandemic travelled all the way to India on hospitality tour of Ahmadabad at the show of a gathering of one lakh people on 23rd of February to openly flouting the conditions of physical distancing and on next day reaching Delhi during fierce communal riots in North East Delhi, along with thousands of suspect carriers of the virus from his country as American fellows and his security staff. It is said some among these American guests also went on a picnic tour to Agra. All three cities subsequently happened hotspots to fall to the virus in the very first phase in our country.
The Session of Parliament had intermittently continued and members after attending a party of film celebrity carrying virus from UK risked the spread of virus among other MPs. The Lok Sabha finally could be adjourned on 23rd of March in glaring default of instructions of Circular of Union Government dated 9th March, prohibiting meetings and other public gatherings in view to imminent dangers of a pandemic by maintaining physical distancing. The phrase social distancing in the context of India is a misnomer and since thousands of years, it has been existed in the country with religious sanctity (which is called untouchability) a way to keep away sections of people from fraternity and brotherhood. Therefore, in my view, we should promote the phrase ‘physical distancing’ instead of social distancing. Even, the World Health Organization would like to retire the phrase “social distancing” in favor of “physical distancing.” Their logic is impeccable: viruses are transmitted when you get physically close to another person, not when you’re chatting on FaceTime or holding a virtual meeting on Zoom. As long as you’re physically separate, you should feel free to be as social as you want.
We don’t comparatively have a good structure and facilities of public health care in India in proportion to the size of population even in normal times so in this challenging period when there is the lurking possibility of a long and dark tunnel of lockdown as only the inevitable, subtle and preventive measure to save the humanity in lack of curative devices as it is guessed that the vaccine may be the earliest available not before the end of this year for public consumption so in giving situation, Governments may not risk of the lethal phase of community transmission of the Virus by resorting compete removal of lockdown in our country.
The world, after pandemic 1918 when countries lost crores of the population in such a calamity after a gap of hundred years again faces a worldwide disease. Our generation in the above circumstances appears to be destined passing through process of paradigm shift. We, as a generation, may not afford to be indifferent, stoic or unaccountable to the emerging challenges so all of us are called upon to afresh and revive moral values for readjusting ourselves to the new way of life. We have to reset our political and social agenda re-addressing our priorities and to reaffirm our empathy and parameters of life to save the lives and dignity of human beings. The challenges have multiple dimensions keeping in view of existing political be a wilderness, economic disparity and social injustice in our country. It is a time; we have to urgently put ourselves in top gear of collective responsibilities. Since the lockdown, we have been witnessing the scenes of dispair, desperation and deprivations. The daily earners, laborers in unorganized sector and petty business persons are already at brink of starvation while the hardest days are in the reckoning of happening. We cannot leave every responsibility to the shoulders of the government. The volunteers of a number of organizations have courageously been discharging their social responsibilities in various fields but there persists lack of coordination in efforts and actions. It is also required to devise a mechanism ensuring that dignity of the marginalized and deprived people may at any cost be safeguarded.
It is urgently required to respond to social responsibility putting aside other items of agenda. The resources at hand as well as by procurement, must be pooled together to distribute among the needy, helpless and poor in a disciplined manner. The form of positive politics today is to shoulder responsibilities in view of new and changing circumstances or demands of society to arrange delivery of every and maximum possible help subsist those persons who are in dire need of help in existing circumstances. It is high time, while maintaining the highest possible physical distancing, may try our hard to uproot wide-spread disease of social distancing along with Coronavirus by our collective actions for social responsibilities. Social distancing historically created with social division, caste and communal hate, political opportunism and immoral media may be removed if it is conjoined in our fight against pandemic in India.
By Advocate Sharfuddin Ahmad