Yesterday millions responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to light diyas, candles or switch on mobile phone lights for nine minutes at 9PM in a display of resolve to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the mood was misjudged by many. Instead of a sombre affair that it should have been, many people took to bursting crackers, blaring car horns and even taking out torchlit processions. It literally felt like it was Diwali in April.
What were these people celebrating? There is nothing to celebrate yet. The number of Covid-19 cases in the country is increasing each day with the total number of infections reaching 4,298 and deaths touching 118. Clearly, we are far from bringing this outbreak under control. Plus, many in the informal sector have been rendered jobless due to the ongoing lockdown. Nobody knows how long can millions of such people survive without income. Then there is the actual fight against the disease. Reports have been pouring in of inadequacy of hospital beds, ventilators and even personal protective equipment for doctors. All of these need to be ramped up quickly to treat patients and contain the disease.
Therefore, those who are under the impression that we are decisively winning this war are mistaken. We are in for a long haul here and need a lot of patience, self-discipline and control. These qualities clearly weren’t on display Sunday night. That many people actually gathered to burn candles and torches shows they simply aren’t getting social distancing. And once the 21-day lockdown is over, it won’t be business as usual.
So let us realise the gravity of the situation here. We are fighting a very tough battle that has already overwhelmed much richer and more organised countries such as Italy, Spain, the US, etc. Showing solidarity with those at the frontline of fighting Covid-19 is all very well. But the marshalling of required resources and maintaining of national discipline need serious efforts. Let us put the celebrations on hold till we actually slay the Coronavirus monster.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.