*Trigger Warning: COVID*
If there is one thing that “defines” the Indian attitude toward everything we face, it is the “sab changa si” and the “chalta hai” laidback way of looking at things.
There have been numerous jokes, widely circulating on WhatsApp since forever, made on this mantra — when your lights go out, you peek to see whether your neighbour’s lights have gone out too. If yes, then you do nothing. It’s just the way it is. The apocalypse could come, and we’d check to see if the roof of our neighbour’s house has blown off, and if yes, we’d settle in to continue watching our serials and social media videos.
However, one instance where this attitude may be the death knell for us all is when it comes to the Coronavirus.
While international scientists are already speculating on the possible effect of the new Delta Plus variant, with many countries, including the U.K., further delaying a complete lifting of lockdown despite more than 70% of its population having received at least one dose of the vaccine, India and the Indian government seems to be blissfully ignorant of the calamity looming.
We can blame this government all we want, and they certainly have given us several reasons to do so, but the onus is on us to do what we can ourselves. There is enough government bashing going on, and they deserve every single bit of it — fall in healthcare investment, corruption, bullying the healthcare sector and its hardworking workforce — the list of faults is endless.
The public is furious, and rightly so. But people that have lost someone close in this pandemic know full well that blaming the government did not save their loved ones, and it won’t save anyone else either.
The least we can do is learn our lesson and listen to what John F. Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
It has been heartening to see how NGOs and the common person galvanised forces during the peak of the second wave. Social media and WhatsApp was finally being put to good use instead of the usual trolling and spreading of misinformation. People came together to arrange help, be it in the form of plasma donations or passing information on healthcare facility availability by city.
Now, it is time to use that same passion again to remind people to still be cautious. The only reason the number of infections was down last month is that there was a strict lockdown. Now, with things slowly opening up, we’ve thrown caution to the wind, yet again.
We seem to have the memory of a goldfish. The devastating second wave meant everyone lost at least one person close or known to them to this menacing disease, and yet, the minute things open up, we go back to normal.
No masks. No social distancing. No precautions of any kind.
We need to ensure that our loved ones are not only extra cautious when venturing out but also that they rush to get themselves vaccinated. It is sheer arrogance and apathy that there are countries that would do anything to have vaccines delivered to them, and then there’s India, where people don’t want to get the vaccine because they saw a “doctor” on WhatsApp say that the vaccine will cause infertility.
So now, more than ever, speak up. Pick an argument with the uncle in your family WhatsApp group who posts willful misinformation regarding the vaccine. Send a DM to someone you see posting on social media brazen pics of dining without masks or social distancing. Go out of your way to get your family vaccinated at the earliest.
We Indians are taught to respect elders and never answer back or question them. But it is time to speak up, if only to save them from themselves. These may seem like silly and obvious things to do, be it wearing a mask or social distancing, but after seeing everyone venturing out and having a good time again, we could easily fall into the trap of believing that saying “Go Corona Go” somehow worked and we are free of this virus.
The entire world is terrified of a potential third wave, with all world leaders citing the devastating toll the second wave had on India as an example. If only India took notice of this warning as well, a lot more of us would be alive today.