Just when the terror of Corona was reducing, suddenly the second wave of it has hit us hard. We were almost settled to the pre-Corona era but now the horror of 2020 seems to be back. In my state Gujarat, the blame game between the public and the state government is very much on. The people, in general, are blaming the state government for this second wave and they refuse to accept that they also share the blame for what is happening around them.
If we talk about Gujarat only, then this is probably the third wave of Corona and not the second. Soon after Diwali the cases again was on the rise and both the people and the government looked clueless. Even at that time, people started blaming the state government for it while easily forgetting that it was them who filled the markets, streets, and malls when they went out fearlessly for Diwali purchases.
At that time people were blaming the government for not doing enough to control the crowd in the markets. One wonders had the government put restrictions during Diwali time, the same people along with local media would have blamed the government for its dictatorial attitude. So, one must accept that the second wave was mostly due to the negligence of people in general.
But, this third wave despite the people of Gujarat not accepting that they do share the equal blame, there is also a fault that belongs to the Government of Gujarat and all the political parties of Gujarat. Just recently there were local bodies elections in the state and the way all the political parties organizing election rallies and road-shows, before and after, it was expected that the third wave of Corona is just around the corner and it did happen last week with a boom!
Most of the rallies and roadshows attracted a huge crowd and no political party cared about it. Most of the political leaders who used to give advice to the people, before the election process started, that they should maintain social distance and wear masks, found ignoring the same by themselves while campaigning and celebrating the victories later. Even in their rallies, we have witnessed scenes where people cared less about social distance or wearing masks.
This happened for at least 15 to 20 days continuously in the entire state of Gujarat, so imagine how easily Corona would have spread during that period time. Once the results of these elections were out slowly the number of new Corona positive cases started to increase. In February it looked that finally, the pandemic is under control as cases were just on or around 200 per day for the entire state of Gujarat.
But then came cricket matches! There were two Test matches and five Twenty20 internationals scheduled to be played at the newly built Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. The stadium has a capacity to accommodate 1.20 lakh people at once. Fifty percent audience was allowed for all the games. Because it was the first Test match since the stadium was inaugurated plus it was the first pink Test or Day/Night Test played in Ahmedabad, plenty of curious people came to watch the Test. In the second Test though there were very few people as Test cricket attracts a very less number of Gujaratis.
But in the first two Twenty20 Internationals more than half of the stadium was filled and the unofficial count was even higher than that. This was bound to happen as T20 has its own charm to attract more and more people. When I saw the scenes on my TV while watching the live game, I was stunned and shivered as thousands were dancing and creating the Mexican wave without wearing masks or social distance. There was clearly a murder of social distancing in the ‘full brightness of floodlights.’ Very few people were wearing masks and yet they were mingling with each other without any fear of Corona.
All in all more than 1.50 lakh people were in the stadium for the two games if we believe in the unofficial number. Now imagine if the spread of Corona was even 10 percent of them were affected by the virus. But this thing happened, the authorities let these things happened, at the time of elections and also at the time of the cricket games because it was suiting their necessities. Now since the last two days, when I am writing this, the number of cases in Gujarat has increased and has crossed the 1000 mark per day first time after November 2020.
So, the charge here of the common people that when the state government or political parties saw their benefit they let Corona spread, and now the same people are imposing partial or half lockdown to correct their serious mistake and common people are suffering due to it. In other words, politicians made ways to benefit themselves but not letting the people to earn their benefits especially when their lives are just coming back on track after last year’s lockdown.
The funny part of implementing Corona rules by the authorities was that most of the people in the audience, whether they were in election rallies or the cricket match, were not wearing a mask and they were not fined for it. But when the same people driving their car alone or with family without wearing masks they were fined 1000 rupees by the authorities. These double standards made people angry further.
Till this argument, everyone has to agree with it, but then one must look in the mirror as well. When the second wave of Corona arrived just after Diwali, it was not government or the politicians who filled up the markets, streets, and malls; it was us or most of us. Agreed that political parties organized rallies and roadshows, but it wasn’t mandatory for us to attend them. It was us or most of us who attended those rallies in large number and thus became the reason to spread the virus.
Yes, there was a cricket game in the city but the organizers didn’t take the large crowd a gunpoint into the stadium to watch the game, it was us or most of us who went there to ‘enjoy’ and ‘celebrate’ the game of cricket. Many of us have seen people posting photographs of tickets they bought for the cricket games and boasting about them on social media, do they have any right to question the government? I don’t think so they have.
When I was a student there used to be a chapter in Civics which was about the rights and duties of a citizen in a democratic country. If we demand rights from the government to prevent us from viruses then we also have a duty to protect not only us but also our fellow citizens from deadly diseases like Corona. Don’t you think that it is shameful on our part that even after a year of Corona has passed we are still not willing to wear a mask or carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer with us or to maintain social distance?
I have seen many; especially youngsters even now gather in large numbers at a tea stall or at restaurants and do not maintain any distance. Last year when Corona entered our country we were not aware of what exactly we need to do to protect ourselves. But now after exactly a year, we know that we must avoid large gatherings, must wear masks at least, and yet we fail to apply such simple things. Any government can only advise us but the application part lies on us.
There are plenty of incidents where people are seen driving without wearing masks, and when the police stop them and ask for the fine they start to blame the government. Yes, there must be few instances where police must have fined people beyond their jurisdiction but then we must not forget our duty to follow SOPs suggested by various governments. It is not only a duty to follow COVID-related instructions of the government, but we must follow them to protect ourselves and protect our family.
Sometimes I wonder while seeing people not following social distancing or wearing masks, don’t they want to live? Or don’t they care about their family members, especially the elders? It is very easy to blame others, the government for our mistakes, and during this Corona time as well, we have done the same thing but it is very difficult to accept our mistakes or ignorance.
This doesn’t mean that the government or the political parties are not responsible either. For the local bodies’ elections, all the political parties could have arranged online rallies and could have set a brilliant example. The Gujarat Cricket Association or the GCA could have made a decision to play all the Twenty20 internationals behind the doors before the T20I series got started and not in the middle of it when things started to go out of control in the city of Ahmedabad.
We, the Gujaratis have seen these things happening in our state, and now it’s the turn of five states that are going for elections in the next few days. We are seeing on the television that people are gathering in large numbers to attend political rallies, they should be warned of the rapid spread of Corona in the next few weeks by quoting the example of Gujarat. But, rest assured that at the end of the day, the fear will come true as both the people and political parties won’t take the danger seriously till the results are declared in these poll-bound states.
We all know that we can control Corona by remaining self-disciplined. We all know that Corona is not a one-time wonder; it is here to stay, so let us maintain the self-discipline for the months to come and not becoming ignorant when numbers of new cases are going down. If we don’t commit any mistake and do our duty religiously, then only we have the right to blame the government for its misdeeds, otherwise, we just need to shut ourselves up.
19th March 2021, Friday