Ever since the coronavirus pandemic turned from a scare into our reality, masks, of varying kinds, have become as essential to us as our phone and wallet when we step out of the house. India has entered stage four of its nationwide lockdown, and as restrictions are gradually lifted across the country, we cannot become complacent. Wearing a mask is an essential measure against the spread of Covid-19.
But while scientists and doctors have cried hoarse about the importance of the three-ply and N95 mask, some politicians in India have failed to understand the importance of wearing one properly. It’s fairly simple — you pick up a mask, pull the elastics on both sides, tuck it safely behind (both) your ears and ensure it covers your nose and mouth, without leaving any gaps underneath your face or on the side.
But our esteemed politicians, across political parties, have shown how to not to wear a mask.
Who wore it best
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackkeray paid his respects to Jyotirao Phule on his 193rd birth anniversary with his mask pulled down so low that his nose and mouth remained bare.
मुख्यमंत्री उद्धव बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांनी आज थोर समाजसुधारक, शेतकऱ्यांचे कैवारी आणि स्त्री शिक्षणाचे उद्गाते महात्मा जोतिराव फुले यांना जयंतीनिमित्त पुष्पहार अर्पण करून विनम्र अभिवादन केले. pic.twitter.com/j6b4b9RCGG
— Office of Uddhav Thackeray (@OfficeofUT) April 11, 2020
Up north in Haryana and down south in Karnataka, chief ministers Manohar Lal Khattar and B.S. Yediyurappa are “the schnoz”, refusing to cover their noses.
आज चंडीगढ़ में गांव ऊंटसाल, जिला कुरुक्षेत्र निवासी 94 वर्षीय श्री ओम प्रकाश जी ने अपनी बुढ़ापा पेंशन से जमा किए हुए ₹51,000 ‘हरियाणा कोरोना रिलीफ फंड’ में भेंट किए और आगे की पेंशन का भी दान करेंगे।
मैं इस अमूल्य योगदान के लिए उनका सह्रदय आभार प्रकट करता हूँ। pic.twitter.com/BWAXkmKed2
— Manohar Lal (@mlkhattar) May 23, 2020
ವಿವಿಧ ವೈದ್ಯಕೀಯ ಸಂಸ್ಥೆಗಳು ಹಾಗು ಪ್ರಮುಖರು ಮುಖ್ಯಮಂತ್ರಿಗಳ 'ಕೋವಿಡ್19' ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿಗೆ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸಿದ ದೇಣಿಗೆಯ ಚೆಕ್ ನ್ನು ವೈದ್ಯಕೀಯ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಸಚಿವ @mla_sudhakar ಅವರು ಇಂದು ಹಸ್ತಾಂತರಿಸಿದರು. ಕೋವಿಡ್ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಮುನ್ನೆಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತು ಸೆಣುಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ವೈದ್ಯಕೀಯ ವಲಯ, ದೇಣಿಗೆಯನ್ನೂ ನೀಡುವ ಮೂಲಕ ತೋರಿದ ಸಮಾಜಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ ಅಭಿನಂದನೀಯ. pic.twitter.com/6VGheMAr7T
— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) May 18, 2020
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashoka Gehlot sports the “the chinstrap” while holding a meeting with his ministers to tackle the locust attack in his state.
His Jharkhand counterpart, Chief Minister Hemant Soren, was also spotted with one in an interview to ANI. This style of wearing the mask is quite popular with former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis too. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan seems to also be picking up on the trend.
करीब तीन दशक के बाद फिर से टिड्डियों के लगातार आक्रमण शुरू होने से यह जरूरी हो गया है कि प्रदेश में टिड्डी चेतावनी संगठन को और अधिक मजबूत बनाया जाए। टिड्डियों के प्रकोप के कारण बीते साल भी किसानों को बड़ा नुकसान हुआ था। #Rajasthan
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) May 22, 2020
It has become the habit of BJP&Centre to play politics over everything. Jharkhand Govt has given NOC for 110 trains. Around 50 trains have brought back over 60,000 migrant workers so far: CM Hemant Soren on Railways Minister's remark that state is not giving nod for enough trains pic.twitter.com/MUn7gjBdRB
— ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2020
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have forgotten their masks altogether. The irony is not lost on anyone, given how Bhagel was commended for controlling the spread of Covid-19 in his state, while Gandhi was one of the earliest voices to sound an alarm about the coronavirus pandemic.
25 मई को अब छत्तीसगढ़ #झीरम_श्रद्धांजलि_दिवस के रूप में सदैव स्मरण करेगा।
हमारे नेताओं का न होने का एहसास तो हम सभी काँग्रेसजनों को हर पल- हर क्षण होता है, लेकिन छत्तीसगढ़ को लेकर उनकी दूरदर्शिता भी हमें प्रतिदिन कार्य करने को प्रेरित करती है।
वे आज भी हमारा संबल हैं।
— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) May 25, 2020
In the United States, masks have become political ammunition ahead of the presidential elections. President Donald Trump has never been seen wearing a mask since the coronavirus first broke out. He has even gone to the extent of mocking a journalist from CNN, as well as opponent and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, for wearing one. Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi has been matching her masks with her outfits, much like our Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
To wear, or not to wear
To wear a mask or not wear a mask is turning into a debate of its own. While the World Health Organization has stated that it cannot 100 per cent protect you from getting infected, it is a recommended practice. The roughly 7×5 inches of cloth covering one’s face has gained global political importance in the shortest span possible — the mask has become the icon of the coronavirus pandemic. However, wearing one improperly demonstrates mere idiocy.
In India, a war of words ensues between the Centre and the Opposition on how much is being done to help the fight against coronavirus and whether or not it is enough. It often feels like our leading politicians are failing us at this very basic step, but it seems like both Congress and BJP leaders are united in their ineptness at wearing a mask.
Not wearing a mask, or even wearing one improperly, not only sets a bad precedent for citizens, but also shows ignorance that will further compound our problems. India may be under lockdown, but some politicians have still been tending to matters on the ground, and regularly holding meetings. Thus, it is of utmost importance for them to take all the precautions possible.
It is not impossible to speak while wearing a mask. Yes, it poses a bit of an inconvenience and discomfort. But if a woman can keep her mask on while giving birth and lose 1.5 liters of blood the following two days, you can do it too. You may change your Twitter display picture to one of you in a mask, but that’s not enough. It is time to accept the mask as a reality of our new daily wardrobes, because unfortunately Covid-19 is here to stay.
Views are personal.