New Delhi: Over the next two weeks at least, officials of the Modi government will trawl the streets and markets of India to monitor the public for Covid-appropriate behaviour, looking out for and photographing adherents and violators of coronavirus guidelines.
The drive is part of the government’s countrywide coronavirus awareness campaign, which was launched last month amid fears of a Covid-19 case surge during the festive season and the winter.
Senior government officials told ThePrint that the decision to keep a tab on Covid-inappropriate behaviour among the public was taken by the empowered group tasked with looking at information, communication, public awareness, public grievances and data management with respect to Covid-19.
The group is headed by Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Secretary Amit Khare and is one of six empowered panels overseeing different aspects of Covid-19 management.
The Press Information Bureau (PIB) will be at the forefront of executing the campaign, with other government departments in Delhi involved as well. Details of the drive have been listed in a communication that has been dispatched to all the regional and branch officers of the PIB. ThePrint has a copy of the communication.
Photos of Covid behaviour
As part of the plan, regional and branch officers of the PIB will provide pictures of people not adhering to Covid-19 protocols — along with the date and place where the violation took place — to government departments in Delhi.
“This will go on for at least two weeks to begin with,” a senior government officer said. The officer also referred to the aforementioned communication, and said the plan has been communicated to the staff posted in the regional and branch offices of the PIB across the country.
An official in a state government who is involved in the campaign said staff at regional and branch offices of the PIB have been told to take photographs of common public places such as markets and bus-stops daily, to record both Covid-inappropriate and Covid-appropriate behaviour among the masses.
“Everyday, the officers will have to send across a couple of pictures, which will serve as examples of good and bad Covid-19 behaviour, to Delhi,” the officer said, adding that the pictures will be integrated into the campaign.
A second senior government officer said it is yet to be seen how and where these photographs could be used and integrated into the campaign.
This is an updated version of the report