There is little point in ignoring the fact that the medical challenge of limiting the spread of the novel corona virus has been superimposed on an India in the throes of a struggle against the communal NPR NRC CAA project. A lockdown was abruptly imposed on the country to limit the spread of the disease, and though there are questions on and widespread suffering due to the method of locking down, people are maximally cooperating with the govts.
However, when the top heavy method of imposition is carried on rather than explaining and winning the confidence of the people for what is essentially a public health issue, the results are unhelpful. Journalists have reported that where door to door surveys are being undertaken to determine spread of infection, there are hitches due to imposing of drives rather than soliciting the cooperation of the people. This is then mistakenly attributed to backwardness or social media disinformation rather than the faulty approach, and valuable time is lost.
The idea of community survey in lockdown conditions is to find out how many are in the house, how many are in vulnerable age group etc. There is little need of a form taking details which the NRC form needs. This is bound to create apprehensions among the people. There is even less reason why community leaders are not being enlisted in a health survey. There has to obvious difference between detecting a ‘spy’ in a household and detecting patients there. The most vital difference is, this is a step to help and protect people and must solicit their happy participation. Going with the police with the recent attacks in which police role has been so dubious obviously is not helpful in soliciting co-operation.
Doctors and health personnel must keep matters in their hands and act for the citizens and act by involving them. Execution of such surveys are acts in the interests of safeguarding health of the people. These must be controlled by doctors not police. With these steps taken, people should be and will be willing to cooperate which is in their own interest and interest of the whole people.
April 11, 2020