Covid19: Its psychological impact in rural areas
Humans are social and psychological beings. Since the last two years of this Covid 19 pandemic many lost their precious lives and the economic condition of the people has fallen drastically. As a citizen of the state I do appreciate the self-sacrifice of the health workers in controlling this pandemic. I also acknowledge the generosity of many individuals in fighting against Covid 19. Unfortunately, with the passage of time Covid has taken the turn of a psychological sickness rather than a physical one in the rural areas. Many people are afraid to go for the test because of various reasons. The indifference of the Health Department to those that tested positive is also a reason why people refuse to be tested.
In fact, when people are tested positive they are sent for home quarantine without any help or treatment. ‘They told me to go for home quarantine although I have no symptoms at all during my quarantine,’ says one of the villagers. ‘When I was tested positive, I was psychologically down, though I was physically strong without any symptoms, but the worst part was when people began to socially ostracise me just because I was tested positive,’ said another villager. Personally, I am fully vaccinated and have no doubt in my mind that the virus is real and a killer. However, to see villagers suffering more from psychological disorders rather than the sickness itself is unacceptable. The Health Department must take extra care of the villagers. It is unfortunate that in the past there were failures and mistakes in announcing the Covid test results. Perhaps, these errors resulted in lack of trust of the villagers who refuse to be tested, not to speak of being vaccinated. Because of the failures of the Health Department the sickness has created a sort of psychological trauma that’s more destructive than the real illness itself.
The New York Times & our PM
A recent news article in the New York Times, about the Covid-19 situation in India and the position taken by ICMR, must have rattled the Indian Government, especially with the impending visit of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to the USA. Government officials have come out, all guns blazing, in defence of the PM, and have practically condemned the newspaper. However, we should bear in mind that very few in India have access to the newspaper, and its readers are primarily based in the US. Still the defence trotted out to counter the news report in Indian publications have highlighted contents of the news article, and are in favour of the newspaper. The NYT has backed up its claim that ICMR had tweaked data to favour the Indian PM politically, whereas ICMR should have gone by scientific data and science. Many who were associated with the ICMR had lent their voices in support of the contents of the news article.
Many in the western world had always doubted the Indian statistics and data on Covid-19, specially the second wave. Unlike what has been claimed, the strict lockdown in March – April 2020 had only delayed the peak of the pandemic.
The moot point here is that we as a nation should be strong enough to face criticism, rather than brushing them aside. Opinions are formed when reputed publications like NYT publish something like this with evidence, no matter what our stand is. US President, Joe Biden has withstood fierce criticism of his handling of Afghanistan crisis, but his government has never tried to defend itself or to condemn anyone for their criticism. This is the hallmark of true leadership, especially in democratic and open societies.
Stop vendors from occupying footpaths
Kudos to the Deputy Commissioner West Jaintia Hills for not allowing the vegetable vendors to sell their goods on the footpath of Iawmusiang beginning Dec 15, 2021. Time And again, they were removed by the authorities concerned, yet they start their businesses at the usual place which is a nuisance to passers-by and inconvenient for the pedestrian who are forced to walk on the road because the footpaths are all occupied by the vendors. That this should happen at Iawmusiang, which is the heart of the town is not acceptable. In a way, we as buyers are also to blame. Nowadays, the schools have re-opened and students have no choice but to walk in the middle of the road which is a cause for danger. Iawmusiang is congested with these roadside vendors which makes the whole place an ugly sight to look at. Tympang Club, which owns a lot of the areas of Iawmusiang, successfully removed these roadside vendors months ago which was much appreciated. Now I appeal to the Tympang Club to unite again and let these vendors not resume their business on the footpath for good. As such, Iawmmusing will not only be a spacious place but a little bit cleaner than when there is congestion. In Mynthong, within the vicinity of the Deputy Commissioner’s residence, vehicles are randomly parked. For this, I would appeal to the Jowai Traffic Police to take strict action, otherwise Mynthong which was once a spacious place will start to be congested by these vehicles which are haphazardly parked.
Assault on freedom
It pains me to write this email, especially as it comes as an afterthought to the present situation in Shillong. Once again, young boys were assaulted by masked goons, leaving them with grievous bodily injuries. Having been born and raised in Shillong and being proud of the glorious cosmopolitan legacy of the great city, it pains me to see such cowardly manifestations of xenophobia being brazenly displayed and not being condemned by the majority population, all of whom owe it to the rest of the population.
In this interconnected world, where I can access news of the city, sitting here in a hotel in Brussels, no one can afford to stay cocooned in a small city thinking that they do not need to mingle with the rest of the country. Our smart hardworking young boys and girls from Shillong who are out there in big cities in the country need to feel one amongst everyone else.
If these acts of violence continue unabated, without as much as a small act of condemnation from the civil society, then what message are we sending across? Are we telling them that they should continue to feel alienated and constantly be treated as outsiders? Perhaps it is time for soul searching within instead of looking for answers without.