It is remarkable the way India, a nation of million opinions, has come together to fight the coronavirus, ignoring uncertainties over the final tally of body counts, availability of vaccine and the hit the economy will take. More than 90 percent people strictly followed guidelines of lockdown, clapped and rang bells to boost morale of medical professionals, police and civil administration, and lighted lamps to symbolically express their resolve to remove darkness of despair from their lives and remain positive. This spirit has to remain alive lest national efforts come a cropper.
The campaign for survival was, however, not without some jarring notes. Those who came from abroad, had relatives visiting them or were in contact with affected patients concealed information despite knowing they had symptoms. They either died or infected several others. Then, you had likes of former PM Deva Gowda organising the wedding for his grandson and turning lockdown into a joke. Any justification for their irresponsible conduct can only be spurious. If the so-called VIPs cannot be disciplined, the governments have no moral right to beat up common men to stay in their homes.
Tablighi Jamaatis were even worse. Not only they refused to be tested and treated but also attacked and abused doctors, paramedical staff and the police. You wonder why should the state force them to remain alive. If the fear is, their movement will trigger community infection, then quarantine them and ask them to get tested or await the destiny to write their obituaries. Tablighis’ spitting defiance has already done the damage. Quietly, rural folks have started shunning shops of Muslims for fear of buying infected stuff.
Indian migrants created another problem.
The Central Government had repeatedly told them to stay put and states were instructed to feed them. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Karnataka ensured they had food and shelter. But Maharashtra dithered, Rajasthan looked the other way and Delhi connived at inducing migrants to leave in hordes. As a result, migrants crowded at bus depots and railway stations to rush home, making a mockery of physical distancing. It is about time defaulting states were fiscally punished and made to reimburse expenses that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha have incurred on food, transportation and maintenance of their migrants.
Intriguingly, not one case from 14 million illegal immigrants has so far been reported as positive. It is ominous. Either they are super resistant to the virus, or hiding for fear of exposing their identity. Conniving states could also be suppressing information. But India has to be saved. If they are not scooped out early and examined, our gains against Covid-19 will get neutralised. email@example.com
Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing