By Jyotshna Hazarika
“A small virus that got its birth in Wuhan, China in the year 2019 had swept our lives so hard and so incessantly in the year 2020 is again making rounds in 2021”.Despite the worldwide vaccination programmes in full swing, the above statement sounds very tiring and worrisome. After sailing our already staggering lives through the year 2020 with so much disruption and pain due to the pandemic, it is an irony that humans had not fully woken up until now, had not understood the truth and I believe would even fail to understand where we are heading towards. Already we had lost so many lives including so many Covid warriors in their race to fight the ugly disease. Economic loss to the nation and the poor economies, in general, were substantial. After the independence of the country, the first time our country had recorded negative GDP post-2020 lockdown. Of course, as sensible citizens, we do not want another nationwide lockdown. We do not want a repetition of the bygone year as we had somehow managed to engrave our tragic times of 2020 for good. However, the deepest irony lies in human psychology. We tend to forget things so fast without realizing the consequences in the near or distant future. We talk about children missing their childhood by losing the fun of visiting schools during the lockdown. But as parents and guardians of an educated society, what changes have we brought about to bring happiness to our children? Have we taught them how to fight a pandemic and why to wear a mask? The world had witnessed pandemics in almost every century. One single Pandemic is enough in a lifetime to teach us many things in life and carry forward our learnings and takeaways to the generation next.
It is very much noticeable that a slight relaxation of any stringent action spoils us in the long run. This is time tested. It was observed that both our central and state governments had relatively diverted the focus from Health to Politics due to the elections. We hardly got news on the infected figures and masking norms during the recent election campaigns and polling days as the attention was more on the bygone elections.
With every passing day in the last few days until now, India is on its way to touching higher and higher peaks of Covid 19 and the new Covid strain infections. It has already surpassed the benchmark peak figures of October 2020. Figures are alarming and an eye-opener for every level of the government administration, schools, colleges and universities, private and government organizations and also at the individual level. Every day new SOPs are in place given the pandemic situation. In our state, the much-awaited Bihu celebrations in a public place, which remained restricted last year due to the Covid situation, are in the pipeline this year for the annual celebrations. Sufficient guidelines concerning Covid management have been incorporated for the smooth conduct of the public functions without hurting public sentiments. Now it is up to us how we perceive and how we go about without misusing our” Freedom” in a pandemic situation. I believe it would not be wrong to use the term “Freedom” concerning the timings allotted, people capacity and masking norms in public places and so on.
Do you remember those Lockdown 2020 days? Do you also remember the Unlockdown 2020 days? What change did you see in both phases? Have we learnt something during the transition or after? The answer is a clear NO. I simply do not understand why do we need special announcements to wear Masks in our big fat weddings and the other non-essential parties in Pandemic Times? Last year around the winter season, I was stupefied by the scale of the grand wedding ceremonies, adopting no short cuts despite Covid situation, every ritual being conducted in grand style and that to weddings of the educated doctors and engineers. Forget the rest. In few weddings, the bride wore the mask as a small piece of fashion statement whereas in some masks were a thing of the past so as not to waste the display of heavy makeup by some renowned makeup artist in town. Attending such weddings with a mask on the face, sometimes made me feel odd one out. Such stories, I believe exist everywhere and is common to many.
Now, given current the situation, if any government announces any stringent rules for our safety, I think we have no right to complain against because we had misused our “Freedom”, we had shown “Overconfidence” in roaming about as if Covid has been wiped out for good. The situation can be well explained by an example. Imagine that you are a grown-up kid and your parents or teachers had always forbidden you from certain bad habits. But you thought that you are grown up and you do not need to pay heed to their advice as you think it somehow interrupts your level of personal space or personal freedom. But one day, for disrespecting that piece of advice, it came as a big blow on your face. No doubt, we all human beings need some respite, mental peace but not at the cost of the society around us. Change in attitude and love for society is the need of the hour. Governments will come, governments will go. It is us who have to battle every storm from floods to pandemics. I feel very sad and angry at the same time watching the sorry picture of Covid next big wave again in our country. The least I could do was to come out with a write-up. If it can at least reach a handful of conscious citizens and sensitize the masses about universal masking, my purpose is successfully met. As individuals, let us join hands once again and propagate and adopt Universal Masking to stop the spread of Covid Wildfire in the Nation, in the Planet. Governments and organizations can also come up with various incentives to promote the Universal Masking Theme and religiously continue the penalization for disobeying Masking Norms in public space. The money collected from such penalties can hence forth be used for rewarding poor people with masks for practicing other Covid norms as laid down in different guidelines.
Therefore, an earnest request to every reader.
Change your attitude
Love your state, love your nation
Just as you love yourself and your family
Masks no more a choice, no more a piece of fashion.
Let us understand: It is an inseparable part of our lives forever.
Let us propagate and adopt Universal Masking. A small step towards Covid Management.