What do we do when there’s a lockdown? Well, The Times of India reporters, photographers and other field staff across departments tuck in a mask in their bag and go about their work. Our colleagues on the desk remain glued to their systems, making pages like the one you are reading now. Our men at the printing press soil their overalls till the wee hours.
Our colleagues in the circulation department wake up when others go to bed, and join our frontline of newspaper vendors and delivery men to ensure that when you open your door in the morning you see the paper you hold so close to your heart.
Together we bring you stories from the battlefield where the enemy is an army of invisible pathogens that we call the novel coronavirus. So that you can stay indoors safe and know what’s real and what’s fake; where there’s hope and where there’s despair; how we can win this battle and why we need to win this battle. We don’t stop working. Because we have to stop the virus.
And this is nothing to boast of. What we do as a newspaper pales in significance when we look behind the doors of hospitals and laboratories where doctors, nurses, technicians and health workers – some of them without proper protection – work tirelessly caring for patients, collecting samples, testing for the virus, going out to convince their contacts, getting shouted at, some beaten up, yet never letting go of the spirit of service, the call of duty.
Not any less are the efforts put in by our farmers who continue to till, our fishermen who set sail, despite uncertainties over sale of their produce. The truckers who transport them from the shores and hinterland to our habitations are stopped and questioned, but the policemen who do it, are but doing their job. These are times that test our character as much as our skills. And most of us seem to be passing the test — day after lockdown day.
After the doctors and health workers, it’s the police who have the toughest time dealing with people. In the initial days of the lockdown there were reports of police excesses, but of late our men and women in khaki seem to be enduring more problems than creating them. They are primarily entrusted with the job of preventing unnecessary traffic and avoidable crowding on roads, but at many places, people continue to indulge in panic buying, often violating social distancing norms.
Here the police have to tread the thin line between disciplining and being disciplined.
Those of you sitting at home – who constitute a majority – are making a big contribution. Not for nothing is this lockdown. Indeed, there are theories in support of minimal restrictions to facilitate herd immunity, and proponents of that theory can argue that social distancing is as untested as their theory of free mingling. All that the theories show is that we haven’t understood the novel coronavirus well enough to agree on anything.
Till we do that, let’s go by what most of our scientists say. If you are in home quarantine, you should know that you need support, if not empathy; so, give it to your neighbour who is in confinement just because he had to travel abroad last month.
Members of Tablighi Jamaat comprise the biggest cluster of Covid-19 cases in Tamil Nadu and some other states. Any religious congregation could have been affected. This is not the time to segregate by community or creed. After all, it’s a battle between Homo sapiens and something which scientists call a sub-microscopic infectious agent. And we have no choice but to win.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.