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Tika utsav is fine but poll rallies with zero social distancing, no masks big threat to India's war on COVID-19

Maybe the time has come for politicians of all events, not simply the aam aadmi, to additionally exhibit that “Covid-appropriate behaviour”

Representational picture. PTI

Apparently, Indians take note of nothing until it’s become a competition. Diwali, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Eid, Christmas, and Kumbh Mela, the mom of all festivals, are clearly not sufficient.

We added turned IPL into India ka tyohar.

We most likely have essentially the most literary festivals on the planet. Different nations have run-of-the-mill elections. India, now we have been informed time and again has a “competition of democracy”

Due to this fact it’s hardly stunning that in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19 , the prime minister needs the great residents of India to have themselves a tika utsav or a vaccination competition.

In his speech, Narendra Modi prompt {that a} tika utsav between 11 and 14 April may enhance the vaccination drive. Additionally, 11 April occurs to be the delivery anniversary of social reformer Jyotiba Phule whereas 14 April is that of Babasaheb Ambedkar. This may very well be some strategist’s brainwave of killing two birds with one jab.

One 12 months in the past as India went into lockdown the prime minister had different festive concepts to lift our spirits – we clanged pots and pans, blew conch shells, lit divas. There have been even WhatsApp forwards about how that vibration was going to destroy the virus. One 12 months later the virus is rampaging via the nation in its second wave, these WhatsApp forwarders have transfer on to different causes and now we have upped the sport from pots and pans and candles to a full-fledged competition.

Cynics may roll their eyes however the prime minister is aware of that as quickly because it’s referred to as a competition it turns into a red-letter day in our minds. Amazon and Flipkart can do “Tika Utsav” bumper gross sales beginning on 12:01 am on 11 April till 11:59 pm on 14 April. Pizza Hut can ship Tika Utsav particular pizzas – with tika kebab toppings in fact. Every metropolis can have pleasant contests to see which centre doles out essentially the most pictures in someday, that’s vaccine pictures, not alcoholic ones.

Something that encourages vaccination is in fact one thing to be inspired. And the prime minister is in his personal manner a cheerleader-in-chief for the nation. Thus he’s to be counseled for attempting to encourage all eligible Indians to exit and get vaccinated. And if some upbeat competition messaging works higher than doom-and-gloom portents so be it. After all, there’s a hazard that within the rush to have a good time tika utsavs, we may crowd vaccination centres and overlook about social distancing however that’s a minor quibble.

However what feels incongruous is that this cheery PSA for a “competition of vaccination” happens similtaneously a “competition of democracy” is unfolding in so many states throughout India.

The pandemic and the election appear to be occurring in several worlds, hermetically sealed from one another. There are two Indias, one by which a COVID-19 second wave is raging and one by which elections are taking place and apparently by no means the twain shall meet. Thoughts you this can be a nation the place a court docket guidelines that you would be able to be fined for not carrying your masks whereas alone in your automobile. A automobile is a “public place” says the Delhi Excessive Courtroom however a political rally is clearly not.

Well being Minister Harsh Vardhan lately scolded his fellow residents for letting down their guard and permitting the Covid numbers to blow up afresh. He blamed “lack of dedication and sincerity” and stated, “no one is considering carrying the masks.. there’s no respect for the norms of bodily distancing.”

As Scroll identified, the identical minister shared footage of his celebration leaders holding election rallies the place hardly anybody was carrying a masks and there was actually no bodily distancing taking place. “One have a look at Harsh Vardhan’s Twitter feed makes it fairly clear who may very well be referred to as out “for taking every part casually’” writes Rohan Venkataramakrishnan in Scroll.

It’s not a BJP downside. It’s an issue just about throughout the political spectrum. Outdated habits die arduous. Outdated electioneering habits die particularly arduous. Pictures from rallies throughout Bengal for instance, whether or not Trinamool or BJP or the Left Entrance-Congress mix, would hardly recommend the nation is grappling with a pandemic. It seems identical to one thing from 5 years in the past. Maybe the truth that the Bihar elections didn’t trigger an enormous explosion in infections lulled us right into a false sense of complacency. However these elections are taking place in the midst of an authorized second wave. But the identical politicians who wag their fingers on the public for giving security precautions a “tilanjali” appear to have little interest in main by instance. And they don’t even see the jarring dissonance.

It’s clearly not straightforward in a rustic like India to do bodily distancing at the most effective of instances, not to mention at election time. However we are able to do our bit. The symbolism issues. Although Donald Trump sneered at Joe Biden for carrying a masks throughout his marketing campaign, Biden resolutely caught to it. The open-air inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris with the friends carrying masks despatched out two messages – one, that the enterprise of democracy and transition of energy should go one and two, they need to go on with as a lot security precautions as doable in these grave instances. It was about fortitude in face of a pandemic not the denial of it. It can by no means be foolproof however the message is vital.

The visible of masked politicians on stage at an election rally in India would ship out a message as nicely. A prime political chief taking his masks off to handle the rally after which placing it again on would ship out a message. Equally, a crowded stage crammed with maskless jostling politicians sends out its personal message to the rank and file. A politician in Kolkata informed reporters asking him about lack of masks and security norms that he was “not afraid” of the virus and he would win, Covid or no Covid. Tirath Singh Rawat, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand tells devotees planning to attend Mahakumbh that “no one might be stopped within the title of COVID-19 ” as a result of “religion is stronger than worry”. Two days later he examined optimistic.

At this level it’s baffling that politicians nonetheless assume bravado is the vaccine all of us want. Now the Haridwar district Justice of the Peace has stated all faculties within the district will stay closed from 9 to 15 April not due to COVID-19 fears however “in view of an enormous rush of devotees to Kumbh Mela.”

It’s clear that after a 12 months everyone seems to be affected by Covid security exhaustion. The masks are slipping and weddings and events are again and public transport is crowded. We examine rising numbers and lack of beds however there’s no indication that it’s affecting our behaviour. A video of a cheerful lady at a temple throughout Holi telling a reporter there was no Covid there lately went viral. Regardless of Yogi Adityanath’s strongman popularity in Uttar Pradesh, his exhortation to keep up security protocols throughout Holi appeared to fall on many deaf ears. Individuals are uninterested in a 12 months of security protocols or lulled by the dip in numbers on the finish of 2020 or each. However now that the second wave has actually landed, blended messages from the political leaders don’t assist. Whereas the PM exhorts us to not let down our guard, we simply hear “no lockdown”.

The prime minister in his message in regards to the second wave has reiterated the main target must be on “check, monitor, deal with, Covid-appropriate behaviour and Covid administration”. That’s commendable. However maybe the time has come for politicians of all events, not simply the aam aadmi, to additionally exhibit that “Covid-appropriate behaviour”.

And if we should flip every part right into a competition, what a few month-long “masks competition” as an alternative of only a tika one?

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