The recent resurgence of COVID- 19 cases has necessitated an introspection by society and the government. Being members of a civilized society, we owe a duty to cooperate with the government in the effective implementation of COVID 19 guidelines and the new precautions. But, unfortunately, it is observed that due to the societal “let loose” behavior, the precautions like social distancing, wearing of masks, abstaining from social get-togethers have been thrown to the winds and the result of this callous attitude is before us in terms of rising numbers of cases. Parliament can make suitable laws but its compliance becomes the responsibility of the society if it wants to eradicate the disease and survive.
The common man stands disillusioned and disturbed over the emerging unethical and barbaric incidents of rapes and murders which do not fit into the definition of civil society. The snail speed response to check such heinous crimes raises an apprehension that, though inadvertently, we are heading towards the “Hobbesian state of nature” (a concept of 16th century during English civil wars) in which ‘Might is Right’ was the ruling principle. Going back to the dark periods of human history would yield unfortunate results. In the present turbulent situation, instead of obsessive publicity to the Bollywood issues, the declining economic, social and health issues should be focused on. This is unfortunate that in these plague-like times, the ‘politics of survival’ has occupied the floor. The entire process of media publicity should have been carefully streamlined. This is the time when the government should provide effective support to the most vulnerable population like single households, people living with disabilities, women and children living in shelters instead of simply repeating horrifying warnings of COVID 19 on media and telephones. The government should rather ensure that there is timely and accurate information for the public on the risks and preventive measures at the community level. The information about the eligibility for and the availability of public relief programs should be clearly disseminated. The transparency of the financial transactions by the government in response to the pandemic control would go a long way to restore the public trust which, at times, crumbles during crisis times.
Above all, our healthcare system needs to be revamped. It falls short of the needs and requirements of society. The resurgence of COVID 19 has made us to carefully examine the lacunas due to which our healthcare workers are finding it frustrating to deliver the expected results. We call them “Frontline Warriors” who risk their lives and stand between us and the disease. Though we give our felicitations by clapping, beating thalis, lighting Diyas like gestures, do you think simple ceremonial gestures are enough to boost their morale? They need boosters in the real sense and not these lollipops. This hardly helps them when we compare it with the sacrifice they make to save our lives. Many doctors sacrificed their lives in this fight but do for the service they render to save many lives in the society. Does anyone know their names? Did anyone call to know what happened to their families afterward? Financial dole to the families after the death of the braveheart is the price the government has decided to pay for the services they render to save many lives in the society. Do we extend a similar type of treatment to the warriors of our territorial borders? Their families get a lot of facilities like subsidized canteen groceries, free medical facilities and utility services at a subsidized price when their Bravehearts are alive but away from their families. Undoubtedly, they rightfully deserve it but are we not unfair to our “Frontline Warriors” – the doctors who are taking care of our ‘Heath Frontiers’. How can we justify this discrimination when the present COVID 19 situation is not only warlike but more grim and risky. Why are doctors not treated on the same footing?
By not responding to the required needs of this profession, who are selected through, perhaps, the toughest exam and trained by the longest course in any other field, the country is definitely losing medical professionals. They are our need forever. Let us take timely remedial measures lest society suffers the irreparable damage to healthcare.
The Author Susan Anand: Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Educationist, Social and Political Analyst.