The COVID-19 Crisis – Like Surat 1994, We Indians need to change once and for all

There is a very famous quote – “every crisis gives birth to an opportunity (or say many opportunities). The only thing that one who is facing the crisis should be able to identify the opportunity while negotiating with the crisis.

Regarding the current scenario and the above quote, it worth recalling the case of the plague outbreak in Surat in 1994. It was an unparalleled crisis, which brought large scale devastation in the city. The city, however, learnt it lesson and once the crisis was over, the city and its citizens embarked upon a journey for a complete overhaul of the city’s infrastructure and state cleanliness. They very meticulously identifies the root causes (s) behind the outbreak and eradicated them. In just a few years’ time, Surat was at a different notch and turned in to a world-class city. They ensured that the ordeal, which they had gone through should not be faced again.

At the COVID-19 struck in our country, we have been forced to take a few steps to make sure that the situation doesn’t cross the threshold limit. Those who understand the magnitude of the problem, very well know that if the curve goes beyond the threshold limit, we’ll reach a point with no possible path to return. In that case, it will lead to large-scale destruction for sure.

The irony is that what Corona has forced us to do; should have always been part of our lives and habits. But alas, it was not the case, as we never valued these practices and took things for granted.

Taking cue from what Surat did post 1994, we need to draw our lessons and incorporate few things in our lives and both the citizens and government need to take the lesson learnt seriously. We need to make sure that what COVID-19 forced us to do, should remain part of our lifestyle for all times to come.

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There are few of them: –

There is a need to change our habits about personal hygiene, which has been Achilles heel for our society for decades now, a very old menace.  Proper hand washing periodically should be in our routine habits. We now all know that how valuable is the Modi’s SWACH BHARAT programme. We need to work with even more intensity for the complete elimination of defecation in open, on a pan-India basis.

All of us need to self-evaluate, which are avoidable journeys, and which are necessary. We Indians undertake so many travels, which are for very trivial reasons. In an era, when we can speak to everybody in the country for practically free of cost and majority of the population can make a flawless video-call even from the handheld mobile device, we need to simply eliminate one-to-one meeting for discussing most of the matter. Corporate must take a serious note of this. Video con-call should immediately replace the HQ meetings for the organization which has operations at multiple locations. We also need to seriously ponder over our journeys, which are undertaken for religious reasons. Journey (be it any mode of travel) for sure is a hazard, and logically why one should expose himself to a hazard unless the compelling reason is strong enough.

We need to avoid getting crowded in one place. With a high population density of 460 persons per sq. km, vis-a-vis a world average of 59 persons/km, India is highly vulnerable for this. Thus, we need to revamp our habits and social Operating Procedures, by extra stretching ourselves. We need to contemplate upon ideas like – work from home, staggered office timings etc. to reduce pressure on roads and public transport system. Web TV and web series has the potential to avoid crowding at the multiplexes, which as such is penetrating our lives as a positive sign and e-commerce can solve the problem of hazardous crowding at the malls, restaurant and groceries stores.

And for the state, the crisis has exposed our moribund public health system. The infrastructure is nowhere close to, where it should have been considering 125 crores people. For both GOI and state government, the revamp of public health should be the top priority going forward. 40000 ventilators for 125 crores people and 1 hospital bed for 1300 persons, is an awful indicator for one of the fastest-growing economy

It is time to act for all Indians. As they say, committing mistake not part of life but repeating a mistake is unforgivable. If as a nation we fail to draw lessons out of this crisis, the consequences can be nasty.

The onus is on us now. If Surat can do it, then the whole nation can do this after this crisis.

(The author is NewsMobile iJourno. Views expressed are personal)

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