Rajat Sharma

The danger is far from over, let us not fritter away our gains by allowing all-out relaxations

akb2910Prospects of a further extension of nationwide lockdown after May 3 emerged at a video conference meeting of state chief ministers with the Prime Minister on Monday. However, most of the state governments have called for phase wise relaxation in restrictions in view of the spike in the number of hot spots in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Surat, Indore, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Out of 747 districts in India, 180 districts have been marked as ‘red zone’, 228 districts are in ‘orange zone’ and the remaining 339 districts are in ‘green zone’. A ‘red zone’ is one where coronavirus is spreading fast and the number of cases is on the rise, while an ‘orange zone’ is one where there had been coronavirus cases but most of the patients have recovered. A ‘green zone’ is one where there has not been a single case till date.

Clearly, more than half of India’s districts are in the ‘green zone’, but the catch lies in the ‘red zone’. The number of districts in ‘red zone’ may be less, but these districts keep the wheels of economy running. They are the power houses of Indian economy. These are densely populated areas and the virus is spreading fast. The good news is that the virus has not spread to India’s rural hinterland.

The Centre has allowed lifting of all restrictions on farming activity. Nearly 80 per cent of the wheat crops have been harvested and shops selling agricultural implements, seeds and fertilizers have been allowed to reopen. Mandis (farm product markets) are operating normally. In factories located in green zone, sanitization and social distancing norms will be strictly enforced so that the virus does not spread.

At the meeting with chief ministers, the Prime Minister pointed out to reports of a second wave of Coronavirus in China, Japan and South Korea. So, the danger is far from over, and the gains that India has accrued in the first phase must not be frittered away by allowing all-out relaxations.

The western media, which has been traditionally anti-India over the last several decades, has chosen not to take note of how India has brought the Coronavirus pandemic under control in a nation of 1.3 billion people. On the contrary, questions are being raised about the government’s role. There is nothing new about it. The western media has this habit of showing India in a poor light.

Some in the western media are surprised why people did not die in thousands in India, at a time when thousands of people died in the USA, UK, Italy, Spain and France, which boasted of the world’s best health infrastructure. The western media is unable to comprehend why poor people living in city slums did not die in thousands in a country like India, which does not have a large number of modern hospitals.

Those in the western media who criticize India should learn from a French family, which has been staying in a village in UP’s Maharajganj district for the past 23 days due to lockdown. The family was on a round the world trip in its Recreation Vehicle. It crossed Wagah border on March 1, entered India, and the next destination was Nepal, and from there to Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.

On March 22, the French family reached Maharajganj near Nepal border, but was denied entry to the country due to lockdown. Since then, this family has been staying in Kolhua village, 30 km from the border. Local Indian villagers, including the temple priest, are looking after their food and other requirements, and the French lady in the family has been seen sitting in the temple praying to Lord Hanuman for a safe journey.

Such is the magic of India and the Indian people. The combined population of the US, UK, Italy, Spain and France account for 52.2 crores and the number of Coronavirus cases is nearly 17.6 lakh. More than 1.3 lakh people have died till date.

Compare these figures with India, which has a population of 133 crore, number of Corona cases is nearly 30,000 and the death toll is in three digits (939). If the western media is sceptical about India’s statistics, then none can help them. We salute our Corona warriors, our doctors and nurses, who have done a sterling job in keeping the pandemic under control.

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