Adv. Zaffar A Shah
For the last slightly more than a month, this virus also known as COVID-19, is subject matter of debate and discussion. Hardly any print media, television news, internet or social media is without reference to it.
The first question which comes to our mind is where from has this virus come, and how come it suddenly emerged in Wuhan district of China and within weeks spread in the world. The consequences of its infection have been devastating. Thousands of people in many countries died and over a million are under treatment even as there is no cure known of it.
Its spread has largely been attributed to the contact of affected people with others during their movement from one place to other or within their homes. Its consequences affected all, big or small countries, mighty or less mighty. All modes of travel were brought to a standstill, preventing movement of people. The initial reports attributed the virus to humans consuming bats and snakes in China. Whether it’s was true or not, one does not know.
The second question, which also disturbed people was whether the virus, made of simply outer fat layer and inner DNA, had emerged naturally or was it created in laboratory as a bio-weapon somewhere in USA or China.
Many conspiracy theories started doing rounds on social media. The people attributed it to the rise of Chinese economy which had started to slowly dominate other economies of the world. Others viewed it as a Chinese strategy to take over American companies in China and abroad at low cost consequent to reduction of prices. Whatever hypotheses were projected, they, at least, bothered a common man who was driven to struggle for his day to day living and ultimately survival.
Kashmir and most of India also evidenced cases of virus infected people. Series of advisories were put out by governments, experts, doctors, civil societies etc. urging people to stay indoors and avoid all kinds of contact with outsiders. These advisories called for use of face masks, social distancing of more than six feet, use of Vitamin C, appropriate food to boost immunity etc.
But all these advisories also required hospitals to take effective steps for various categories of patients who are infected. There are potential patients who are suspected to be affected and require proper investigation. Then there are people, who as of now, with the grace of Allah, are in safe zone. The first and second category people need to be quarantined, there is no other option.
But where is the space in hospitals for the said purpose. These quarantine centres need to be away from crowds, and in each of them, a patient is required to be kept separate. As such, it requires a lot of space, beds, linen, medicines etc. to maintain a quarantine centre’s efficacy. While the government, though inadequately, may be providing space and some basic facilities, it is the large unaffected population that too needs to be cared for. Entire medical program is focused on patients. There are no programs and schemes for the common people who have been asked to stay indoors and who, as a matter of fact, have cooperated.
With all the basic measures in place, new problems have come among the people. These include daily food, clothing, medicines for purposes other than meant for Covid-19.
In the absence of any help from the government and its reach to the needy people, I believe that genuine, bonafide and sincere NGOs and trusts have an important role to play.
Here many people, particularly those in the business community, are financially blessed, and in a position to help. It may be that many among them have loaned money from banks and financial institutions and that their businesses for quite some time may have suffered affecting their income, they can still chip in if they have ‘the will’ to come forward and lend their helping hand.
I know there are people who, as a part of their social and religious responsibility, have pledged to donate ventilators for the hospitals. The people in Kashmir realize the importance of helping needy ones during the crisis, when such people cannot work and have to stay indoors.
The civil society, many a times, have important social responsibilities and I think they should not shy away. Let these societies, which exist throughout the valley in one form or other, join efforts to provide some help, whether in cash or kind, to deserving persons, who for reasons of self-respect are not able to ask for it.
The business community should make donation in cash and kind to such organisations. I also believe that local mosques can play a very important role in identifying such people and helping the NGOs reach them. The management of the mosques, in all probability, are aware of the needy people in the concerned area and can, without anybody knowing about it, provide help to the deserving families.
Many schools have offered their courses online. Though 2G can hardly be smooth and effective, in the circumstances, even for short periods, children can take advantage of this form of education. Such children who do not have the required gadgets can be helped and the civil society can chip in with donations.
This will go a long way in helping children remain connected with education. It is vital that their momentum should not break.
These are some of the measures which can help those who are indoors but don’t have money to buy things because they have been left jobless. Look how in Britain financial help has been provided by government to people. But alas, we live in a country where there are no listeners and every individual has to fend for himself.
May Almighty give us strength, fortify our faith, and make us altruistic in these trying times.
(Writer is a Senior Advocate. Views expressed are personal)