Sunday, June 20, 2021

Coronavirus Cogitations: Don’t cry for Dimapur, Nagaland

Monalisa Changkija

Apologies for the delay but Power failure since afternoon yesterday (April 2, 2020) interrupted this Column. My Inverter had also exhausted ~ I sat in the dark day-dreaming. Power was restored only around 10:45 this morning (April 3, 2020). I am told that the Power Department worked throughout the night to spot and remedy the problem. Grateful and Salute to our Power heroes. We didn’t have Power for good hours of the day on April 1, 20202, too. Quite a reliable source told me that a truck driver drove into a light post somewhere not too far away from Duncan after imbibing one too many pegs. I would like to make acquaintance with this man ~ he seems to know his way around watering holes.

On Day-2 of the 66-hour total shutdown (now extended) at Dimapur on April 2, 2020 Pharmacies and chemists were open. Thank God for that but how many people could go them since no one is allowed to move out of their homes? But then again, it is possible that the district administration has permitted the genuinely needy people to buy medicines, no? We can come to some conclusion only if and when Dimapur’s Medicine Dealers give us feed-back on sales figures.

Dimapur district administration’s Order to extend the 3-day shutdown by another 2 day, i.e. till April 5, issued last evening has heightened the level of frustration amongst Dimapurians. Not without reason ~ we were told not to indulge in hoarding and panic buying, we obeyed. Now, we are running short of food and other essential commodities. It’s not as if the district administration made any food delivery arrangements to households, as is being done in other districts. Meanwhile, this extension Order only reiterates the district administration’s inability, lapses and failure to implement the 21-day nation-wide lockdown. Nowhere in the country has any such total shutdown has been enforced in any district. And, it’s not as if lockdown violations have not happened elsewhere in the state and country. And, what does the state Government do to alleviate the plight of Dimapurians? It sets up a committee to “advise” the district administration! By setting up committee, the state Government has conceded the district administration’ failure and abdicated its responsibility in Dimapur. Everyone knows that setting up committee basically connotes doing a Pontius Pilate. And in doing so, it has only incurred upon itself more headaches.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister held the second video conference with Chief Ministers on tackling the huge challenge posed by the Coronavirus disease asking them to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the 21-day lockdown ends. The Prime Minister asked Chief Ministers to send across suggestions on how to exit the lockdown, stressed on the importance of social distancing. This is a smart and welcome measure because while the nation-wide 21-day lockdown was sudden ~ and certainly not well-thought and well-planned ~ creating much hardship to people across the country, especially the disadvantaged, the exit strategy must not make the same mistakes. The imperatives of this cannot be over-emphasised because the novel Coronavirus has not yet been defeated ~ in fact, the increase in the number of the positively infected, as well as increased deaths, in the country is alarming. But our State Government and the Dimapur district administration particularly would need to first formulate an exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the district’s population once the 5-day total shutdown here ends. That won’t be easy considering the trauma of the double whammy of the nation-wide lockdown and the district shutdown simultaneously. Reportedly, at the risk of violating lockdown and shutdown rules and courting arrest, some people are scouring for food, especially for children.

Actually, what is the rationale for the 3-day shutdown here, which has been extended for 5 days? It’s not as if Kohima also didn’t see lockdown violations particularly on March 30, 2020. How come the Kohima district administration is managing ~ and very well too ~ since then without a total shutdown? It has also managed home delivery of Pork! Dimapurians are not asking for home delivery of Pork from our district administration ~ just to lift this unreasonable total shutdown and allow a few hours of food shopping. At the back of my mind, something keeps on banging the words: “Police State”. Now with the enforcement of so many laws, which cannot be challenged in Court, the prospects are very frightening.

Even so, the public needs to scrupulously follow all the advisories, instructions and directives of the Central and State Governments. The threat of the novel Coronavirus is more than ever with Assam testing an increased number of positive cases. If our district administration orders measures for public conduct after the shutdown ends ~ if it doesn’t decide to extend further ~ on April 5, it would be in our interest to follow them meticulously. Please, let’s not incur the danda of the Police, even if our district administration flounders on its responsibilities.

A few days ago, our Principal Secretary and Commissioner of the Health and Family Welfare Department solicited the voluntary help of retired doctors, nurses, lab technicians, etc., to help fight this dreaded virus. I am sure a lot of them are only too willing ~ and able ~ to answer this call. However, what about our large number of unemployed doctors, nurses, lab technicians? While I understand the legalities (from the Government’s perspective) and technicalities of involving our unemployed health and medical personnel in the long run, wouldn’t this be just the right time and occasion for our senior health and medical personnel to guide, mentor, advise and be friends and philosophers of the juniors?  You get my drift, don’t you?

Talking of which, I was wondering whether our high-flying Ministers, Advisors, bureaucrats and the like, constantly attending meetings, etc., at Delhi and other cities, even abroad, especially in March, have been tested for the Coronavirus. They must be the first to be tested and the first to lead by example.

Oooops, electricity has gone just now all over again.