COMMENT COVID OPIATE
By Tathagata Satpathy, ex-MP
THE FEAR OF coronavirus seems to have straightened a lot of us unruly Indians. We have heard Mahatma Gandhi adopted the Civil Disobedience path to irritate the British rulers and that instrument was a great help in the struggle for freedom. Gandhi obviously knew the psyche of Indians.
We are not fighters but we love breaking the law. Only utter fear of personal death has proven to be the only medicine against this mass characteristic illness. The scare of Covid-19 put most of us face down inside our homes.
The police force, especially the lower rungs, have been performing exceedingly well in the work they are supposed to do. In a manner of speaking, it can be said that they have enjoyed the unbridled power that was suddenly thrust on them. Habituated to sitting under the shade of a police station and counting currency notes, the lower echelons of police across India seemed to be loving walloping street vendors and migrants for no apparent reason. Starting from the Gujarat Police mercilessly beating and killing an Oriya migrant labour to a lady Sub Inspector of Cuttack thrashing a vegetable vendor, the stories of police brutality abound during these times of disease.
Yet, the hard work put up by the junior level police personnel cannot be ignored. Standing in the heat of the sun and ensuring compliance of lockdown regulations, these police women and men did commendable service. Interestingly, while these junior personnel were getting scorched by the sun, reports from various parts indicate that senior police officers were not noticed moving around and boosting the morale of their minions who were unwillingly forced to do tedious duties. While cops have been termed as ‘Corona Warriors’ and maybe correctly so, the incidences of major crimes such as rape, murder, break-ins and other such acts have noticeably gone down across the country in this period of lockdown. Maybe, the criminal elements in our society have the fear of Covid too. Similarly, road accidents also saw a major decline. While crime dwindled outside, reports indicate a spike in cases of domestic violence.
Another set of people who should be commended are the municipality workers who have been cleaning up the mess all of us are creating. They are in the highest danger zone since cleaning of trash is a deadly activity now. According to reports emanating from Wuhan in China, the Corona virus has been noticed to survive long and strong in sewerage. When we are scared of our existence and have started behaving slightly different in matters of cleanliness and social distancing, we are incapable to understand that paying attention and decreasing filth, dirt and trash is also an important aspect in this fight. The sanitary workers can be noticed functioning with amazing courage and devotion.