The governing body of our residents’ welfare association (RWA) held the AGM in physical mode in the first week of April this year. Corona had already reared its ugly head – cases were on the rise. There were voices from the residents to postpone the event or hold a virtual meeting. It was informed by those in authority that the meeting had to be conducted to comply with the Act, and Registrar of Society had refused to recognise virtual meeting for want of provision in the rules. AGM was held in physical space, attended only by limited numbers. The minimum number of attendees required for the meeting to be held was not met, and the meeting had to be postponed. The fallout was that our residential complex followed the national trend – an exponential rise in Covid positive numbers.
This was an event at a much smaller level. On a much bigger canvas, the country hosted two mega events since March/April. One was the Kumbh Mela, and the other were the elections to several state assemblies. Both the events had the potential to snowball into super spreader of the deadly virus.
We tend to become wiser with hindsight, “see, I told you so.” But it was apparent that it was impossible to maintain social distancing during the mela or during the rallies. We had pictures splashed all over the newspapers showing people bathing in crowded spaces in the holy river, or all major leaders addressing rallies attended by more people than what the restricted space could hold with social distancing norms. Many of these pictures were with the leaders themselves without masks surrounded by supporters.
Requests to the organisers of the mela to end the event, or the statements of the leaders withdrawing from the rallies, or attending smaller rallies, was something which should have been ensured in the first place.
The country did witness an exponential rise in covid infections, in what is now called as the second wave. It is immaterial that these were not the only events which might have contributed to the wave.
In all these events, those in authority, whose role it is to safeguard the citizens, failed to do so.
It is not that leadership cannot or has not responded to the situation on occasions. J&K administration and Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board have decided to cancel this year’s annual Amarnathji Yatra in view of the Covid pandemic, second year in a row, with live telecast of all the religious rituals and the morning and evening aarti.
Having said that, I return back to my initial query. Who is responsible for our own lives? Are we not the authority of our own selves? As we start opening of lockdown, the disappointing pictures in the media of the crowds without social distancing or the use of masks, suggests that we do not think so. It will not be out of place to mention that many of these people in the crowd would be from the educated class.
This second wave was more lethal than the first one. There may hardly be any person in the country who may not have lost a family member or a friend to the deadly virus in this second wave. Experts predict that we are now facing a third wave. I dread to think of the fallout of a third wave if we fail to be the authority of our own lives.
I still believe that in our country, where people trust leaders, it is imperative for the latter to set examples. There is also need to re-examine the provisions for disaster management. If action plans have not been formulated in case of such events, like elections or religious assemblies, etc, then there is need to prepare it.
But we are also a country, where more and more people are continuing to be educated, and it is necessary for at least these people to be the authority of their own lives, and be an example to those less fortunate.
Come my friends. Is our life only the responsibility of our leadership? Are we not the authority of our own lives!