From the Viewsroom

Guard down

J Srinivasan | Updated on May 09, 2021

With a virus on the prowl, the nation can’t be too careful

It feels nice to be looked up to, with just enough muscle to be taken seriously but not mistaken for a bully. But this role demands that not just yourself, you can lend a hand to take care of others around you.

A simpering India actually liked being looked up to in the region with its geographical and people size. It does have the muscle and it has readily helped neighbours and friends. Till Covid came along, especially the raging second wave.

Just in February, not just neighbours even the world at large was patting India on the back for bending the Covid curve to bring it down to as low as 9,600 daily cases. For India’s population, this was nothing. Plus, the country was emerging the vaccine supplier to the world.

But… There is always a ‘but’. The toast had been raised too soon. A combination of a mutating virus, ill-timed elections in five States with one running to eight phases, and a Kumbh Mela undid all the achievement. The seemingly healthy nation was in no time gasping and looked consumptive. Nothing was working. The lurking Covid, as PG Wodehouse might have put it, had dealt a swift blow to the occiput, and BB reeled, not knowing what had hit.

Worse, with the illusion of having defeated the virus, the poorly disciplined people we are, we threw all caution to the winds, which worked well for the virus that had in the meantime learnt to mutate. Cases and deaths soared. This time around the middle-aged and the young being the victims mainly. The nation’s administrative capital and business capital were overwhelmed. The less said about other places the better. Courts had to step in. Suddenly, the big brother was flailing, looking for a helping hand. Many — big, medium, small and tiny — nations came offering what the nation should have had in the first place, or managed to create in the one year of the Covid pandemic — oxygen, medicines, hospital beds, ventilators… The government accepted the largesse, but caviled at it being called ‘aid’, terming it acts of ‘friendship’.

Maybe they will still look up at us, but certainly with a smirk.

Published on May 09, 2021

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