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Duties as an Independent Citizen of the country to counter the COVID19 Pandemic-KAUSHIK CHAKRABORTY-1st-English Article

On 15th August, 1947, India gained Independence from the rule of an imperialistic British Empire. It has now been 73 years that our country is under self-rule, which means that a significant majority of the current population, would be only aware of the struggles of Indian citizens under the British rule, through Books or maybe through stories that they might have heard from their grandparents. Most of us, born post-Independence, therefore are aware of the “Fundamental Rights” that have been granted to us by our Constitution, which was implemented on 26th January 1950, celebrated as “Republic Day”. Therefore, whenever there is some intrusion into our Fundamental Rights, we protest against the same.
The year 2020 has been the most challenging that a majority of the countrymen must have encountered in their lifetimes, due to the almost catastrophic effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Since 22nd March 2020, India has been under lockdown, we have very restricted International mobility, our travels within the country too were completely stopped for a considerable period and now also, very limited travelling is possible. We were even restricted in moving out within the locality. Business establishments and offices were closed for a considerable period and still remains closed in many locations, as Corona continues to spread its fangs all across the country. Though the Government announced a lot of relief measures, the widespread demographics of the country made it almost impossible to ensure that every needy person was reached out to, with all these measures. Community Transmission of this virus was the biggest challenge and the Governments, both at the Centre and the States, have been continuously issuing a lot of directives, to ensure that the same did not happen. All these restrictions, were considered, by some, as an intrusion of their “Fundamental Rights”.

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It is at this point of time, that we need to turn ourselves into a ‘Model Citizen’ and acknowledge the fact that along with the Fundamental Rights that have been conferred to us as a birth right by the Constitution of Independent India, there are also some ‘Fundamental Duties’ that have been prescribed in the same document. While the Governments instruct us to strictly observe Social Distancing Norms, we have been often found to be very casual in our approach and have been on regular basis violating these guidelines, thereby causing an impediment to fighting this pandemic.

Do you know why the Government had so hurriedly decided to impose Lockdown across the country, even before many Western Nations had taken such a step? The Government was aware of its limitations in providing Healthcare Facilities to the affected, if the virus spread like a wildfire. Hence, they focussed primarily on Prevention as they did not have enough resources to Cure the afflicted across the length and breadth of the country.

Let us ask ourselves a question –

“Have we strictly followed all the Norms laid down by the Government to counter the Pandemic?”

If we are true to ourselves and give it a long thought, we all, including the author, will realize that at some point or time, knowingly or unknowingly, have violated one or even more than one set norms for the Lockdown. Quarantine has been portrayed as a punishment; umpteen stories of people violating the Quarantine rules have been flashed in the media; most brazen among them being COVID Positive Cases escaping from quarantine centres and affecting others subsequently. People have intentionally not disclosed their travel related facts to escape being quarantined. Health care workers and law enforcers have been attacked at places when they went to pick up affected persons. And who are we making Social Outcasts? It is the same Healthcare Workers and Law Enforcement Authorities that are working day and night to ensure that we do not lose any of our near and dear ones to this pandemic. Stories of these people not being allowed to come back to their own homes or being evicted by their landlords are indeed painful during these times.

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So, let us this Independence Day, firstly thank our ancestors, whose struggles have resulted in ours living in a Free Country and then take a significant step in making ourselves the “Model Citizens”, who through their efforts, will become an impediment towards the spread of the virus. Trust me, it is not a herculean task, we just need to get a few basic pointers right:

1. Properly sanitization – Washing your hands properly, whenever you come in contact with some person or outside objects.

2. Social Distancing – Whilst we go about our day to day tasks, we need to try our best to maintain the prescribed 2m distancing.

3. Using Face Masks properly – Since the Government has made wearing Face Masks mandatory, we are being forced to carry Face Masks with us, whenever we step out in public. However, there are a lot of individuals you will notice, who will be just wearing the mask as a showpiece, just loosely hanging out of their neck and not at all covering their nose and face, which it is actually supposed to do.

4. Avoiding Stockpiling of Goods – Consumers, who have purchasing abilities, have been consistently stock piling requirements fearing shortage. They have been procuring goods that they would be consuming in almost 6 months, at one go. This has often led to shortages of a lot of items, which would actually have not happened had the procurement been done normally.

We have received a lot from the Nation, only due to the fact that we have been born “Independent” – this is the most appropriate time to thank the nation for this fact!

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Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indian brethren!

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