Home YourTurn SubscriberWrites: If Covid is the bowler, India is paying the price for...

SubscriberWrites: If Covid is the bowler, India is paying the price for taking its eye off the ball

Vaccinate every citizen. Forget travel, religious congregations, rallies, weddings, and cinemas till it is done, writes Dr Venkataram Mysore.

A Covid patient being taken in an ambulance in Ahmedabad, Gujarat | Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Representational image of a Covid patient outside a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gujarat | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

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COVID II has devastated us.  the psyche of not just individuals, but the society and the nation. According to the Kubler-Ross Model, when a person is grieving, he typically goes through five stages —  Denial,  Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Is this model for individual grief applicable to our collective grief?

This scheme can explain our response, albeit with modifications in order — Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Frustration in that order. Depression may happen, but should be prevented. Acceptance is difficult.

We have experienced denial as the first stage, but as denial of the virus and its ferocity, leading to the devastation and are paying for it. There is   a major difference in our responses in first and second waves and is discussed in detail

In 2020, as a  country, we recognized the danger early. An analogy of cricket — our favorite pastime — is useful here. The bowler, the virus, was a very quick tall menacing fast bowler capable of bowling a bodyline bouncer. We prepared well, wore proper gear– a helmet, pelvic guards, etc. We played the balls on merit, defended with a straight bat, ducked the bouncer, survived the new ball, and came out unscathed. The prime minister was decisive in declaring a  lockdown, upgrading our healthcare,and preparation of vaccine. We handled the virus much better than expectations.

Then we thought the bowler is tired, no longer capable of bowling a bouncer. We relaxed, removed the helmet and the guards. We became overconfident, opened up, started partying, typical fat Indian weddings, temples, election rallies, and the Kumbh. We ignored all the warnings of a second wave. We even overlooked   Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala which were all peaking. We deluded ourselves that we had beaten the virus and took off the mask and resisted the vaccine.

But the bowler had taken the second new ball; the virus had mutated. It was stronger, different. Unlike the first time, we didn’t recognise this, and as the bouncer was hurled, we took our eye off the ball, forgot to duck and did not use the bat.  We got smothered in the face and are now bleeding profusely and bewildered. 

WE ARE PAYING FOR TAKING THE EYE OFF THE BALL. We are scampering to fight the virus which has spread widely and wildly. We find corruption and inefficiency in the way- ventilators lying as furniture; oxygen generators not installed. We did not even do the maths and  pay to produce vaccines

This has lead to Anger—anger at the virus, anger at people for not wearing masks, anger at the system for not lapses, and anger at the most visible symbol-  our Prime Minister. We are forced to bargain and negotiate with our inadequacies, inefficiencies and corruption. 

Anger is never an adequate response and hence it has now lead to Frustration, not depression as the fourth stage in the original Kluber rose model. Why could we not do one simple thing – wear mask? We tied it everywhere else except nose- on chin, on neck-  around our eyes and our mind blinding ourselves.  Why did our prime minister, so proactive the first wave, throw caution to winds and focus on winning elections? 

How did we think that Ganga can wash away the virus? Why did we justify farmer protests? Why did the Delhi Chief Minister — who came to cleanse politics, —  not anticipate oxygen  shortage? How was our maximum society, Mumbai left gasping for beds? Why did corruption seep in to bed booking in our silicon valley, Bangalore? The govt, the prime minister, the chief minister, the bureaucrat, the expert, opposition all have failed. Importantly we failed as a nation. 

So we are frustrated that we threw it all away, after doing all the hard work .   We search for answers and find none. And we curse and wail ;  

Next in the scheme is depression, which we need to avoid at all costs- We need to find collective resolve, stop blame game and overcome differences to do one thing on a war footing:  vaccinate every citizen; We need to forget travel, religious congregations, rallies, weddings, cinemas until this is done. We need to focus on health system- build hospitals; statues, monuments can wait.

The final stage acceptance is only possible once we have made introspection, dealt with the situation. But for that COVID has to stop raging. And this covid coming in wave after wave, is not ready to stop yet. 

For now, we must fight Covid as a nation fighting a war. Vaccine and masks are our weapons, The battle is not won until the very last citizen is vaccinated.

Also read: SubscriberWrites: Gym in office, regular sports —  pandemic has shown India needs to get fit, and fast

These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.