New Delhi: Once again there is a thick cloud of tension because of Covid-19 and its new form and this time it’s not only in Mumbai and Delhi but even in the South in Bengaluru. Messages from my family and friends are coming from far flung parts of the country as well as from Britain, Germany and the United States. Families sitting abroad are more disturbed because they are getting only terrible news from here. This world war is for the entire Indian society along with the government to fight. Being locked in the house for weeks reminds one of the old days. I was born in a very small village. The village in which my father, a teacher, lived did not have any hospital, doctor, or even a proper road. So I was not vaccinated for six-seven years. We lived in one and half rooms that were there in the name of Chintaman Jawasia (Ujjain) school. There was neither toilet nor bathroom. After drinking red medicine-treated water from the well, we used to take a bath with a bucket. Despite being a teacher, after taking RMP (Registered Medical Practitioner) exam-training, my father used to give injections or medicines for minor ailments, fever, etc., to the people of that or nearby villages whenever needed. After I turned eight, we lived in a village named Unhel and at the age of 12, we shifted to the city of Ujjain. These villages have changed in 60 years, but I know from my travels that even now the conditions of many villages in the country are more or less the same. That’s why I feel that in this crisis, it is necessary to take a separate campaign for the rescue of those hundreds of villages as a priority.
Forgive me for bringing personal information while writing about the problems this country faces. But then the common citizen in general feels unhappy with the state of things—the shortcomings, disturbances, political rhetoric, allegations and counter-allegations. Controversy also broke out over the testing and vaccines of Covid-19. Rahul Gandhi and some of his associates are engaged in counting the shortcomings, despite India having vaccinated over 1.5 billion people. They are questioning why everyone hasn’t got the second dose, why the children have not been vaccinated, or are claiming that the figures are fake. Why do they forget that there are Congress governments in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab? Are Baghel, Gehlot and Thackeray giving fake numbers? Would it have been right to vaccinate small children without the advice of health experts and with full preparation? Delhi’s Kejriwal government and his party accuse the Central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi day and night of not giving them proper help. Meanwhile, they are spending crores of rupees on the promotion of the weekend curfew and on the arrangements done in their hospitals to prevent the third wave. Recently 16 children were in a bad state and four even died because of the medicines provided by a mohalla clinic. Is this time to do a self-promotion and accuse others of incompetence? Also, can the workers of the BJP or Congress or other parties not cooperate in going door to door promoting vaccination? The claim of vaccinating all adults in Delhi is not true. Even many educated people are not ready to get vaccinated until now, which only journalists like us know. People consider it a right not to forcibly vaccinate in a democracy. There are leaders and organisations running anti-vaccine campaigns in France, Britain and the US. Recently, the President of France scathingly remarked on those who oppose vaccination. If any leader in India does this, then there will be an uproar.
France too has elections in a few months. There are differences of opinion between the ruling and opposition parties in Britain and America on how to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. Some are in favour of strict measures, while some are in favour of vigilance and a proper medical system to avoid a serious financial crisis. But they have complete faith in their doctors and their armed forces. In India, these days, such is the tendency to protest that even what doctors say or the steps the security forces take to protect our borders are misrepresented. To claim that terrorist infiltration by Pakistan was fake and was done by us, or attacking the government and the armed forces by taking China’s claim of unfurling their flag on Indian territory is nothing but an abuse of one’s democratic rights.
Now the elections to the Legislative Assemblies of five states are also going to be completed in the next three months. Despite the third wave of the pandemic, no party is in favour of a postponement. It is difficult for the Election Commission of India (ECI) either way—it will be held responsible for the impact of the pandemic in case elections are postponed, or even if these are held on time. Not only this, but the Opposition is also accusing the ECI of supporting the Central government or the ruling party. Why can’t all parties use the election campaign to provide accurate information in villages and towns, help people get vaccinated, help the affected people in treatment and help the health workers as much as possible? Just as they can sit for TV debates on one platform, why can’t election meetings be held on the same platform? After all, the crowd consists of the voters of a particular area. People will vote for the person whose work they have seen or whose promises they trust. Every party chants the name of Mahatma Gandhi, so why not use the election campaign for a healthy India in remote villages following his ideals of service and mutual respect?
The author is editorial director of ITV Network—India News and Aaj Samaj Dainik.