Now that year 2021 is gone, many things have gone with it too; including second wave of the pandemic. What has been left behind are its marks, scars and lessons that need to be learnt. So many people have lost their lives.
Many have lost their livelihood and many others have suffered loss to their businesses. It also impacted health of almost every individual. And with this cost that we collectively paid it is imperative that we learn the lesson; both at individual level and collectively as a society as a system; both at social level and also at administrative level.
This is more important in view of the looming third wave of the virus Omicron that has already hit countries across the oceans where everyday thousands of new cases are being reported. This is similar to the pattern that we observed in the first and second wave of the pandemic.
Earlier we did not know what exactly did we need to do and how should we respond to this Tsunami of death. But this time we have some experience at our back. We know the predator, we know how it behaves and we know how to keep it away. Our response therefore must be in accordance with the experience we have got at such a high cost.
One lesson that has been learnt beyond doubt is that shutting down everything; every economic, human activity has proved fatal. It has proved disastrous both to the livelihood of vulnerable sections of the society and also to the economy of the country in general.
Our past experience has proved that shutting down every other activity of life and locking up people or restricting their movement may not be wholly helpful. This strategy has caused more damage than any good. We need to realize that people first need to earn their bread in order to survive. They need to live before attempting to keep death at bay. COVID alone is not after ones life.
There is nothing that can compensate for the loss suffered. But for future, such losses may be prevented or at least better managed. For this primary responsibility as usual rests with the administration.
They need to keep themselves well prepared before any misfortune strikes. Gearing up and formation of quick and adequate response mechanisms need to be well sorted out beforehand.
Desperate measures in the midst of the storm do not fetch desired results except rhetoric, panic. It needs to be understood that we cannot sit back and wait for the pandemic to pass. We shall have to live with it and sail through it. Our response therefore must be in sync with this reality.
Both our social and economic activities need to go on alongside the measures to deal with the pandemic. It is quite possible, many countries have done well in the form of smart lockdowns etc. Keeping in mind the collective survival of all, the rationalization of permissions to carry out economic activities should be the strategy rather than complete lockdowns.
Imposing night curfews may be good but allowing uncontrolled crowd gatherings during day time frustrates the very purpose of curbing movement during night. Similarly gearing up of health care system is of utmost importance and that needs to be done well before time.
Equally important is sensitization of other wings of the Government to coordinate with the health care sector. Let no heath care worker be stopped while traveling to or coming from his/her duties.
Let there be arrangements for their safe and convenient travel as they are our front line warriors. Similarly, let no road be dug and no permanent/concrete barricades be built to block roads leading to habitations.
That is not necessary and may prove fatal in case of any eventuality. Let nobody be harassed, beaten for venturing out of their homes. Let there be no Ministry of Curfew or Department of Curfew or Curfew Commissioners. Let there be a more humane approach.
Let’s educate each other to understand the importance of getting vaccinated and wearing mask and maintaining physical distancing. People who are fully vaccinated may be treated differently than those not vaccinated.
Let’s have a more coordinated response to fight this war for our collective survival. Let’s be compassionate to our fellow men irrespective of all basis of prejudices and bias. Let’s learn our lessons early and let’s remember them for future.
Showkat Hussain Shah, JK Bank Law Department
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.