India’s COVID-19 Dilemma: Complacency And Ridicule Both Dangerous!

No doubt India has been able to effectively control the spread of COVID-19 in the country with several states becoming free of the virus and many districts not reporting new cases in weeks. The Government of India also expressed its optimism which seemed to be reasonable as we had seen earlier on these pages. However, this optimism should not be misinterpreted so as to indicate that we have won the battle against the killer virus. Opinions are emerging, based on this optimism and the great humanitarian debate of lives Vs livelihoods, that lockdown can be relaxed now to help the struggling economy. The basic point to understand here is that the world still does not know much about the novel Coronavirus, and so its future course of action is uncertain and undefined. Also, that there was no option to fight the virus spread than by enforcing strict lockdown. We have seen several countries like Russia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia etc. that have a similar experience like us so far and a whole lot of others where the virus is yet to show its dominating presence; but, it’d still be a premature call to take any decision based on such experiences. Last three days in India new cases and deaths showed big and bigger spikes in 24-hour periods with nearly 2000 new cases, the highest spike so far, and 49 deaths happening in the last twenty-four hours. We must, therefore, resist against any complacency creeping in.

Another opinion is also growing that the Indian massive response is disproportionate to the actual spread of the virus. Such opinions are obviously based on the basic assumption: normal diseases kill thousands in India annually, and so, the few thousand COVID-19 cases and a few hundred deaths just cannot justify the countrywide lockdown imposed on 25th March and extended on 14th April to 3rd May, 2020. Such views also emanate from vested interests: some people desperately wanting to go back to business-as-usual and indulge again in all the privileges that had to be sacrificed. This kind of mental condition can be said to be the exact opposite of what President Trump has been displaying. Totally overwhelmed by the unexpected surge of infections (nearing 1 million now) and the continuing spree of deaths Trump has been trying desperately to find reasons for his historic failure or to justify his mistakes, and for that he has been on a frantic lookout for scapegoats. As a part of strategic diplomacy he has been blaming China for everything, starting an intense propaganda that affected large parts of the globe, and demanding a probe into the Wuhan lab; in the form of a dear friend he asked India to supply Hydroxychloroquine medicine and at the same time threatening retaliation if India fail to do; he had criticized World Health Organization for its lack of clarity and went to the extent of cutting off the US funding to it; Trump then went to bizarre lengths suggesting injection of disinfectant into human bodies in the form of a cure. Further, it is no joke at all that there are nearly 3 million infections in the world so far with more than 200,000 deaths, rising daily. Ridicule of the pandemic thus can only be termed as absurd, ridiculous and insane.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today in his national talk ‘Mann Ki Baat’, said very clearly that the fight against COVID-19 is a long-term people-driven battle and people themselves must contribute towards achieving the final victory. By this he meant that people must adopt themselves to the reality and prepare to fight the virus for a long time to come, making the restrictions and the precautions a way of life; that they cannot at all expect to rush back to normalcy or resume doing all the things they loved doing before lockdown, and so, they must never indulge in wishful thinking, and try putting in everything as COVID Warriors instead. If the battle against COVID-19 is to be won, it must be won by the people united. He said this, and we all must adhere to it.


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