The Ministry of Home Affairs has Ordered for Unlock 4 with the re-opening of more activities all around. The Centre has even made it clear that the States and the Union Territories cannot “dilute these guidelines issued” and cannot call for a “Local Lockdown” without prior consultation. Metro rails are allowed, functions under all categories will be permitted within a ceiling number of 100 people, open-air theatres can be opened, but ironically the list of Offences and Penalties for Violation of Lockdown Measures is attached duly.
The problem, though, doesn’t lie with the Unlock guidelines but with the understanding of our fellow citizens. The citizens continuously fail to adhere to the National Directives for COVID-19 Management without the slightest hesitation. Step out of your house with full protection, take a few steps, and you shall get to see the unmasking of each directive mentioned by the Government for the protection of each citizen, conducted vehemently without much remorse.
The mask has become a subject for memes due to its varied utilization by the people. From being protection to cover the nose and mouth, the mask seems to have various options of use. It has taken up the role of being an ear-dangler, chin-cover, mouth-protection, and a synonym for the seat- belts in our country (Sadly but truly, seat-belts are used in our country mostly when there are police checkpoints). The “2 gaaz ki doori” (6 feet distance) in public places seems like a myth. Walk to any public space, and you shall know what social-distancing is about among the people. Screening with thermal scanners is more for show than serving its purpose, as half of the scanners are just there on the table without even looked at, and if you insist on its use, the person deployed to use it is unsure of how it works.
The sky-rocketing numbers of cases in India are alarming and pitiable at the same time. Directives and precautionary measures are laid down but the onus to carry them out lies upon each individual irrespective of whom they are or where they are. The risk caused is not to oneself alone but to each person who they meet, though for the shortest period, increasing the rate of transfer twice folds. The risk taken can be minimal for one, but for someone else, it can be lethal.
As the Government tries to balance the pandemic and functioning of a country in the best way it can given the time and situation, the citizens need to take their duties seriously. People should maintain the directives laid down for the management of the pandemic and should not be adventurous to risk their lives along with the lives of innumerable people they may come in contact with. Many would ask, “Is the situation safe?” for the re-opening of activities and the answer is “No”, but it can be made safe with the combined efforts of each individual by maintaining the necessary precautions and adhering to the directives and by being responsible.
And somehow, the words of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address come to mind, which had inspired children and adults to see the importance of civic action and public service. His historic words, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” is what we need to have in mind during these testing times, to safeguard ourselves and our fellow citizens.
The writer is a PhD Scholar and a trainer from Guwahati (Assam)
The views expressed by the writer are personal and may not in any way represent those of TIME8.