Monday, November 30, 2020

Coronavirus Cogitations:  It’s galho again today

Monalisa Changkija

After a dear friend read my first Coronavirus Cogitations titled “Will Coronavirus spell Change?” on March 31, 2020, she sent a Whatsapp message to me, which said: “Real galho! But excellent galho!” and added a lot of heart-warming emojis. She actually said the word I was looking for “galho”, which is what I meant my Coronavirus Cogitations to be ~ kichdi of thoughts conveyed in very simple language. This is definitely not an Editorial ~ just to set the record straight. So, today also I will present a galho of thoughts, which will not necessarily be related to each other. Perhaps I should have named this as “Coronavirus Galho”. But I will serve it today and as long as necessary and possible.

 I am sure the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the Commissioner of Police (CP) of Dimapur, as well as our State Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, DGP and all concerned with the decision to totally shutdown Dimapur for 66 hours will have a very peaceful sleep tonight (April 1, 2020). They have to because everybody stayed home today except those in the line of duty. They should sleep peacefully the next two nights too ~ and well, they deserve to. But how this will pan out in containing the novel Coronavirus particularly in Dimapur district is anyone’s guess particularly because this shutdown appears to be more to contain the district civil and police administration’s inability/failure to implement the nation-wide 21-day lockdown than to contain the spread of the virus.

Because the public here came to know of the 66-hour total shutdown much after the shopping time of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., a lot of people had problems getting medicines today, especially blood pressure, Diabetes, and other life-saving medicines so vital for the elderly. Let’s not forget that not everyone can afford to buy stock for more than a few days or weeks. Besides, since the district administration did not specify that pharmacies and chemists be open, obviously they remained closed. Moreover, even during the first week of the lockdown, pharmacy and chemist employees were reportedly being harassed by the Police. In any case, these employees don’t have Identity Cards and they are technically not health and medical personnel. Now I hear that our DC wants pharmacies and chemists to be open tomorrow (April 2, 2020), which is a good move. But obviously he would need to sort this out and ensure that they are not harassed by the Police. One can only wish him the best of luck in trying to educate and sensitize the Police in a few hours’ time (at the time of writing this). The state Government should probably now think of setting up help-lines for Deputy Commissioners, Commissioners of Police (thankfully we have only one so far) and Superintendents of Police during these very difficult times. But, maybe keep these help-lines functional throughout because one never knows which other “virus” will spring up in the course of time.

 Everyone must, of course, be brimming with gratitude to our Ministers and Advisors, who have been “contributing” face-masks and other necessary wherewithal to fight this lathua and nuhua Coronavirus. Their milk of kindness overfloweth, I am sure. But there is just this little question that must be asked since no clarification and clarity have been forthcoming. Where have the funds for these face masks and the other necessary wherewithal to fight this lathua and nuhua Coronavirus, “contributed” by our Ministers and Advisors, come from? If it is from their pockets, then we ought to laud them; if not, there is nothing to laud them for because it is public funds going towards public welfare and benefit. Let’s be very clear that when Ministers, Advisors and even bureaucrats use public fund for public service ~ it’s their moral and constitutional obligation and bounden duty to do so and there’s no reason to make a song and dance about it. Of course, during election campaigns, these “little acts of kindness” are drummed up to lure the votes of ignorant and unsuspecting people but seeing the “paucity” of our state Government particularly now at this critical juncture, we ought to demand transparency and accountability from our Government for every paisa used/spent and ensure that utilization of public funds are not being painted as largesse from the hearts and hands of our politicians.

So yes, that all our elected representatives are giving a days’/weeks/months’ salary to see these troubled times is laudable. But “contributing” from the MLA and MP funds isn’t because the latter is public fund.  Of course MLA and MP funds must be utilized for such occasions but they shouldn’t be made out to be largesse of MLAs and MPs from their own pockets. It is also praiseworthy that so many associations of Government employees are coming up with funds to fight the virus. Yes, as a way of keeping records, such contributions must be made public but frankly don’t you think that such contributions are a must at this imperative moment? Whatever miniscule private sector we have in Nagaland have been contributing to the needy through various organizations, which have been feeding and sheltering the needy from Day 1, never asking for acknowledgment and gratitude simply because as human beings it is difficult to be deaf and blind to the plight of the needy. And the best part is the private sector here is not making a song and dance about it. Christ-like, no? Ah, but there would be those who would insist that the private sector doesn’t want to announce its “Christ-like” activities for fear of attracting “demand” and “donations” but a casual perusal of the history of the social activism of our private sector, perhaps since statehood, would prove that wrong.

Anyway, let’s discuss other matters now ~ the political-economy of nations, including India and that means Nagaland too, is now the main concern of social scientists, analysts, researchers and commentators vis-à-vis post Coronavirus on a global level. How would our world, our nations and their peripheries, such as us, look like after this pandemic is over or contained? Because the economies of almost all countries are taking a severe beating because of the novel Coronavirus, how and when would our economic struggle and spring back? Indubitably, how our economies re-emerge would determine the contours of our political landscapes ~ which could be either more inclusive, more equitable and more democratic and liberal or more authoritarian, more despotic, more right wing and more conservative and reactionary. Would welfare states survive in the face of the increasingly emerging police states in the name of nations containing Coronavirus? These and many more such questions are now being grappled with, with whatever little data and statistics and other information available. What about Naga intellectuals? Are our intellectuals asking these questions too? Have our intellectuals started studying the new face of Nagaland that would emerge post-Coronavirus? These are unpleasant questions that must be asked and deliberated on because there is no doubt that things will never be the same post-Coronavirus.

 Lastly for today, I have thought of a couple of things you can do during these lockdown and shutdown days. For those of you who have spoilt brats, whatever age, you can always gainfully utilize the time now to discipline them, teach them manners, wean them away from fast food, games, Netflix and all kinds of addiction, as also teach them that the world doesn’t owe them anything and cure them of all sense of entitlement ~ so that future DCs won’t resort to total shutdowns during whatever emergencies. Teach them politeness, respect, sensitivity and to read, learn grammar, punctuation, idioms and phrases, spell correctly and study sincerely. Teach them the value of time, money, human beings and Nature. Teach them gardening and the wealth and lessons inherent in Nature, Naga and other oral traditions, culture, history, handloom and handicraft, literature, music and other arts. Teach them to learn to be human beings and not clones of what they see in Hollywood and other movies. Teach them to open the eyes of their minds to the world beyond what their physical eyes can see. Teach them to open the eyes of their hearts and minds. Teach them to nurture and strengthen their bodies, minds and hearts. This knowledge will help them be and stay strong and rooted when stormy days visit us. But do please make sure that you do not instill any kind of rabidity, fundamentalism, racism and sexism in your kids and/or spoilt brats. For the rest without kids/spoilt brats, you can simply day-dream ~ believe me, it’s one of life’s best things to do. It’s still my No 1 favourite hobby ~ nay, passion.