‘Media Glare Is Fading, Not The Resolve Of Sikh Farmers’

Amrit Pal Singh (23), a BBA student who assists a US-based doctor at Tikri Border in providing medical support to protesting farmers, says they are ready to ‘weather’ any challenge

It has been nearly six months of the farmers’ protest, but we are in for the long haul. The numbers might be dwindling par jazba poora barkarar hai (the resolve is firm). You will find many of us from Punjab staying put here until a proper solution is found to the farmers’ grievances. The media interest is also dwindling but we know that those mediapersons who are still coming here are the ones who were truly invested in the issue right from the beginning. It warms my heart to see the exchange of views between protestors and mediapersons; after all interviews are about exchange of views.

I have been assisting Dr Swaiman Singh, a US-based doctor who has set up camp at Tikri Border and has been providing seva non-stop to protesters since January. Apart from registering my voice at the protest, I also serve as his assistant and accountant.

Amrit with Dr Swamiman Singh (seated first from the left)

After taking due permissions, we have turned a local bus depot into a medical camp where we provide basic medicines, first-aid facilities and have provisions for dental as well as eye check-ups. We also provide masks, sanitisers and have been trying to step up the processes here when it comes to Covid testing.

Apart from this, I do seva wherever it is required, right from providing medical support serving langars, to doing basic everyday chores like cleaning the washrooms etc. Summers are fully upon us and the trolleys that kept us safe during winters are now turning into tandoors literally, we can’t sleep in them any longer. So I contribute in the making of temporary bamboo and iron shelters to keep us safe from the heat.

Amrit with his team of medical volunteers at the protest site

While we are providing coolers wherever possible, we farmers are used to working in extreme heat and cold conditions. So extreme weather does not bother us too much. However, we need to take care of our elders and others and hence these shelters.

We had anticipated water shortage in the beginning of summers and we did suffer a bit because of shortage of water and milk, but things are back on track now and we have proper water supply. Dr Swaiman has set up big water filters at regular intervals so that the protesting public can access clean drinking water.

Amrit Pal with fellow protesters at Tikri Border

The recent Baishakhi celebrations provided us with renewed vigour and that day saw a huge rise in numbers. Many common people, artists and sportspersons came to show their solidarity and gave us a much needed shot in the arm. They might have gone back home as of now but they have told us that they are with us in spirit.

We are ready to ‘weather’ anything in order to find a solution to the problems of farmers but we sincerely hope that the government listens to us. Hamare buzurg itna kuch jhel rahe hain, wo sacchai ke liye sab kuch jhel sakte hain to hum bhi jhel sakte hain. They are our guiding light summer or winter cannot dampen our jazba.

‘Gorkha Voters Are Concerned About NRC In Bengal’

Deepa Thapa, 25, a Gorkha living in West Bengal, says none of the parties in fray has a spotless record in governance, be it healthcare or economy

I belong to a family of Gorkhas from Nepal who have shifted to India. My father shifted to India more than 20 years ago but most of our extended family is still in Pokhra, Our extended family gets worried whenever there is tension in Indo-Nepalese relations.

I have assured my relatives that I have always felt loved and safe here in India and personally I have never experienced any discrimination, but sometimes policy changes are so sudden and ambiguous that one doesn’t know who might get caught in it.

Frankly, Amit Shah might have said that Gorkhas didn’t really need to worry about NRC (National Register of Citizens), but as an individual I do worry about it. Whenever such news comes up, I read every detail about it in depth so that my family is never caught off-guard. I keep an eye on the statements made by our national leaders, because on crucial matters they have more say than local leaders. However, I give more importance to local leaders than those at the top.

Thapa is an HR professional in Kolkata

As about the demand for Gorkhaland, I am neutral in that regard. I can understand people who want it and I can also understand people who don’t want it. Maybe I would be able to take sides, be able to cross the bridge when we finally come to it.

Personally I think West Bengal electorate is caught between the devil and the deep sea, with no party being better than the other. I feel one should always vote keeping in mind which local representative of a party is doing better work. Before voting one must clearly figure out what their priorities are when it comes to governance and whether there is a likelihood of those priorities being met.

ALSO READ: ‘Bengal Muslims Will Choose Didi Over Owaisi’

Talking as a common individual, I feel both the BJP and TMC are doing little for the economy. West Bengal was anyway under the Left parties rule for so many years that it will take a long time to revive the state’s entrepreneurial spirit. So we need someone in the state who can lead from the front, especially in times like these when so many people are facing an uncertain future job or business-wise due to the raging coronavirus. I feel the pandemic could have been handled better by both the state and central government.

I also wish that India and Nepal’s relationship goes back to how it was in the past. Every time there is a slightest friction in the Indo- Nepalese relation, our Gorkha community here as well as relatives in Nepal get worried.

We Gorkhas are a tight-knit and loving community and so is India generally, and I hope whichever party comes to power, they ensure that their representatives, right from the local to the national level, communicate openly with people. And I would love to see representation from different ethnic backgrounds at the local level.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

‘Mela, IPL, Rallies Can Be Held… Why Not Exams?’

Bengaluru-based Class 12 student Navya Deepesh Govil feels disappointed at the postponing of Class XII examinations and she lists out hers reasons for it

I am a student of Class 12 currently preparing for Board exams and other competitive exams. The central government has cancelled Class 10 Board exams and postponed Class 12 exams due to the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases across India. As a student, I am not happy with the decision having prepared so hard for the whole year.

Just look at the prejudiced decision of our government. Bars, restaurants, cinema halls and other public places are all open with 50% capacity. The political leaders are holding multiple rallies in election states. Thousands of people are gathering in the Kumbh Mela, refusing to get tested or wear face-masks or follow social distancing; they are all one over another. The Indian Premier League matches are being held.

ALSO READ: ‘Happy To Be Back In School After Long Wait’

I want to ask my leaders if Mela, public meetings and cricket matches can be held, then why school exams can’t be conducted with due precautionary measures in place! Clearly, election speeches, sport events and mass festivals are more important for this government than education. If it were not so, we would be taking our exams as scheduled, with heavier restrictions on public gatherings, and strict safeguards at examination halls. No?

Considering the severity of the situation, it is fair enough for many students and parents to feel at risk of the coronavirus. However, I feel the Board exams should not have been postponed and if at all the situation worsens, the Central Board should either cancel it for good or hold them online.

I understand that holding the exams online would not be the best option considering the cheating that could take place (which would be unfair to students who have genuinely prepared for these exams) and also due to the level of internet access in our country.

ALSO READ: Online Learning Remains A Distant Dream

But the decision to postpone these exams will only leave us hanging and increase anxiety among young students about their future. Postponing Board exams also means putting off other competitive exams that are scheduled to be held in the month of June. And for how long can the whole academic year be pushed down again and again?

We can have each school hold the exams for their students on their campus. That way for one exam there wouldn’t be more than 30-40 students appearing, and can be spread across different classrooms. As a CBSE official recently said that examination centres for board exams 2021 have been increased by 40% to 50%. They might as well hold them in all schools as we did for our board practical exams and viva. With careful planning, we can even start vaccination for students at the earliest. At the examination hall, social distancing, masks and shields can be made be mandatory.

As Told To Mamta Sharma

‘Migrants Are Back But Afraid Of A Fresh Lockdown’

Mohammad Babul has returned to the labour colony in Greater Noida West a year after the lockdown was announced but the going is still tough, he tells LokMarg

We had a flourishing society before the lockdown was announced in March 2020. My extended family, which included my relatives and friends from my hometown in West Bengal, used to live here (labour colony, Gr Noida West) together and worked in close vicinity as construction labour.

The strength of this community unity saw us flourished. Life was comfortable. We never foresaw a situation that there would be a shortage of food or money as too many of us were always employed at one construction site or another at any given point of time.

But as the lockdown struck due to the coronavirus pandemic, we ran out of our livelihoods. After spending nearly a month without a job, all of us decided to return to our hometowns in West Bengal. Some went on foot for hundreds of kilometres till they hitched a ride on a truck or other transport; the luckier ones were sent home either in sanitised government vehicles or NGO-run buses.

ALSO READ: Migrant Crisis Will Haunt Modi Govt 2.0

We lived through the uncertain times and when the virus began to weaken, with nothing much worthwhile in our hometowns, some of us decided to return to Greater Noida to look for work in the hope that things must have returned to normal.

However, a number of my extended family members, including my sister and brother-in-law decided to hold back, and waited for my feedback if the situation were favourable for them to come back. Their apprehensions were right. Since I have returned here, it’s hard to find a job as the builders and the contractors have run out of money and their projects are still in a limbo.

Earlier, during pre-CoViD times, any daily wager in Noida-Greater Noida used to earn about ₹550 every day, but now we are hardly earning ₹400 a day. It is because although a large number of labourers have returned from Bengal, Purvanchal and other areas, the construction work has not resumed in proportional stead.

ALSO READ: Fearing Lockdown, Workers Return To Villages

There are lesser vacancies and more seekers for work in the locality of Greater Noida West. Thousands of high-rise apartments are being constructed in this area, but due to the consecutive lockdown, work at most of the projects has been halted. Threat of another lockdown is rife, uncertainty of losing the livelihood again looms large on the daily wagers.

That is why many of my extended family are reluctant to return. This is also taking a toll of our daily life. Since there are fewer family and friends, it’s hard to support each other during hard times as flow of money and food is limited. I just hope this pandemic ends soon so that our children don’t sleep hungry.

Breath Nightclub Lounge And Bar

‘Night Curfew Doesn’t Break The Chain, Only Hurts Business’

Yash Singhal, owner of Breath Fine Lounge & Bar in New Delhi, says the night curfew will not serve its desired purpose. Singhal also rues zero support to hospitality sector from the Govt

Well begun is half done, they say. But what do you say when your venture has to close down the very week or so it opens? I had just launched my venture, Breath Fine Lounge & Bar, and had barely got the license to operate on March 12, 2020 when the lockdown was announced. Imagine having a business shut down even before it has properly started!

And we remained shut for nearly six months and could resume business only around mid-September (I had to pay rent for those six months). In what has been a terrible year for businesses across sectors, hospitality was perhaps the worst hit. And just when we are finding feet again now, comes the night curfew.

A busy evening at Breath in happier times

I wish the government imposed a lockdown for a few days rather than night curfew for an unspecified period. For, in my eyes a night curfew does not ‘break the chain’, it only impacts businesses like ours, and in turn the livelihoods of the people we employ. Our night club is allowed to remain open till 1 am, but now we have to close at 9 pm. For a nightlife hub, things only begin to warm up at 9 pm.

ALSO READ: ‘A Pub Can’t Make Profit At 50% Occupancy’

People generally get off work around 7-7:30 pm and then need an hour or so to get ready and travel and then reach a place to unwind at around 9 in the evening. Closing down at 9 means we have to take our last order at 8:15 pm. Where does that leave us? Nowhere!

Our occupancy rates have gone down by more than 50% even when we are just recovering from last year’s setback. We have seating capacity of 200 people, but to ensure social distancing, it was brought down to 100. Yet, only 30-40 people come about in a good day (not at the same time). We used to host corporate parties and family gatherings. That circuit is now lost.

Singhal feels hospitality sector is one the worst-hits by Covid-19

I wish industry representatives had made a team and reached out to the government to tend to the woes of the hospitality sector. We are an entrepreneurial lot and always figure out ways to serve the customers better, but we need some policy support too. Our huge rents could have been waived off at such hard times and excise relaxations could have been provided. The DDMA (Department of Delhi Disaster Management Authority) needs to understand that the pandemic is unprecedented for everyone and the government should assist the more vulnerable sectors, such as ours.

The hospitality sector is seen as a glamorous sector and many of us have financially sound backgrounds. But with a year and more of the pandemic, even those with strong savings are under severe stress. We want to cooperate with the government and fight Covid seriously, but then proper measures need to be in place.

I reiterate, a lockdown for a week or so will bring down more cases than a night curfew. Or maybe if lockdown is not an option, then strict monitoring during the day us required. I am sure we will win the war against coronanvirus, but all the sectors, plus the government and people, need to look out for each other. And we need to keep hoping for better times!

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

‘Quit Self Pity, Learn To Swim Against The Tide’

His medical document describes him as ‘100% Disabled’, but Shams Aalam (34) has others certificates that title him with international gold medalist para swimmer, world record holder in open sea swimming and TEDx Speaker. His story:

I am delighted to have won two Gold and one Silver medals with a new National record at 20th National Para Swimming Championship held in Bangalore recently. From an international level Karate player in 2010 to a record holder paraplegic swimmer, I have come a long way.

In 2010, I was about to represent my country in Asian Games. But as fate would have it I was diagnosed with a benign tumour. The surgical treatment left my lower body paralytic. I lost all sensation below my chest. I needed two persons to carry me from one place to another. It was sheer trauma; I felt like a helpless infant. But my mother, my sister and their children took care of me through that time.

My doctor assured me that I would be able play sports again and I followed his advice but realized that the recovery was slow. I was worried about my future. I searched and read every article on the internet about paraplegia, its recovery, treatment, alternative medicine.

From a Karate Kid in 2010 to Gold Fish in 2018

It then began to dawn upon me that this was a permanent situation and is not going to change. Once I got my disability certificate in 2012 which said that I am 100 percent disabled, I decided that I need to stop crying and find alternative ways to move ahead in my life. My mother was the main motivating force. She would tell me “If Allah has closed one door for you, it will open 1000 other doors. Keep going.”

My doctor had advised me to take up swimming to regenerate my nerves and I had taken it with utmost seriousness. In 2012 I started participating in national events as a paraplegic swimmer. As my mother had said, a new door opened for me.

In 2016, I won a bronze medal at the 2016 Can-Am Para Swimming Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. In 2017 I covered eight km in open sea in four hours, which is a world record. In 2018, I was selected to represent India in Asian Para Games at 100 meter Butterfly and Freestyle, besides other categories.

ALSO READ: ‘A Woman Footballer Still Freaks People’

My disability changed my vision. I feel there is much to do for the betterment and empowerment of the disabled community in the country, and I have a role in it. I associated myself with many initiatives in this direction. I started Para Sports Association in Mumbai, a body that provides a sports platform to people with disability. I have been working with various universities on accessibility issues and have delivered TEDx talks, most by a disabled person, on various issues.

Since 2019, I have been working with Bal Swavlamban Trust, a corporate social responsibility initiative of Gurgaon-based Hella India Automotive. We aim to produce affordable, accessible customized mobility equipment for the disabled. I use a German wheelchair which is good but also very costly. At Hella, we are trying to reduce the cost of mobility equipment from the current ₹1.5-2 lakh to ₹30,000.

Aalam now guides people with spine injury as a peer mentor

I am also working on the sexuality and disability. These are topics which are never raised because of which women and children often get abused, end up being victims of domestic violence and worse. We are also trying to generate proper data on the spinal injuries, other disabilities.

As a peer mentor I guide people with spinal cord injury on how to live their life post-trauma.  My mantra is: accept the way in whatever way you are. Respect yourself, stop self-pitying and start moving. If you want to achieve something, you will find the way to achieve it – either on your feet or a wheelchair.

As Told To Mamta Sharma

‘Eager To Get The Vaccine & Reboot My Roster’

Nita Balmohan Rajesh (37), a Bengaluru-based HR professional, is hoping the age-bar for getting Covid vaccine to be lowered so she could safely step out of the virtual, closed-door world

My eight year old has a complaint: “It’s been 13 months sitting at home, Amma.”

My ten year old daughter chimes in: “It’s been the worst year ever, would you agree Amma?”

“Are you saying we can’t visit our cousins even this summer?” they both ask grumpily.

This is the new-found 2020 mode for my children: Sulk, even cry over the smallest of issues, yell at the sibling, take 45-50 minutes to finish a meal, and the worst, sneak more time on their personal laptops. Gone are the care-free days of playing in the park undeterred, getting a time-out for “pushing” a friend. “There are no friends in the park; who should we play with?” they complain and grudge about restricted hours for using iPads.

My husband, Rajesh, and I do feel guilty of this at times. Indeed, that one hour of screen time that we allow our children due to office engagements never ends as scheduled. “Another five mins please…”

Nita’s misses outings with family

How you wish to travel back in time to pre-March 2020! You woke up, readied the household for school and work, and went to office in person. What a feeling it now seems! Eight hours in a world away from the home. You actually MET people! You hugged some of them and shook hands with many of them. You solved business issues face-to-face and you could understand their speech coherently without the masks getting in the way.

You could see the entire human expression, the twitch in their lips when they disagreed; the eye roll when someone said something disagreeable; the nose turning slightly red when upset or angry. You didn’t have to plead them to turn on the video, or increase the volume. “Hello, can you hear me?” You were certain they heard you clear. You looked forward when the clock struck the hour to be back home. You enjoyed your favorite songs on the radio while cursing the reckless drivers on the road.

ALSO READ: ‘A Year Of Pandemic: Setback & Fightback’

You then came home looking forward to solve world peace-level problems. “Amma, Lalith wouldn’t speak to me today. He’s being best friends with Aditya. What do you think I should do?” Or “Amma, my skates don’t fit me anymore. How will I attend my skating classes tomorrow?” Just reminiscing those episodes brings a huge smile. No wonder we were physically healthier and mentally ‘less depressed’.

You didn’t have the luxury of snoozing your alarms, getting into conference calls un-showered or moving the breakfast hour. There was a purpose you woke up with to complete the 101 to-dos! You looked forward to your work-travel and then the vacation you did take.

Nita with her colleagues

The three things I miss a lot is the feeling of being in an aircraft, in a real office and dropping the kids in their school bus. Is there something wrong with me, I confessed to a friend, and we both laughed.

And the age-limit on being eligible for a vaccine certainly doesn’t make any of this remotely happen anytime soon. I do understand the demand-supply situation and completely support the fact that the older folks are at increased risk and should be prioritized. I am certain millions of us will be willing to pay a retail price to procure these vaccines and move on to our “normal” lives. Hope the 30-something aren’t asking for too much! Are we?

As Told To Mamta Sharma

‘Centre Did Little To Help Businesses Amid Covid’

Biplob Basu, 34, a food entrepreneur, says small businesses suffered due to demonetisation, GST and there was little help during pandemic from the BJP-led government at the Centre

My story is one for the books. Both my parents are doctors but I pursued Hotel Management and chose to be a food entrepreneur. And it hasn’t been a smooth ride. The year I opened Petuk, a home-based eatery with a catering division in Kolkata was also the time when politics began over the palate. What you were eating and serving came under scanner.

People with no understanding of Bangla food, wanted to dictate what others should or should not eat. I would therefore prefer a government which is open-minded and understands plural cultures and cuisines.

There are other reasons too why I would choose Mamata Didi’s Trinamool over the BJP. My food venture had just about begun to break even in 2016 when the Centre announced demonetisation. It was taxing time as people queued before ATMs and eating out was not a priority. Just about when that phase was over, the GST (goods and services tax) was rolled out. My expenses (taxation) rose but not my earnings.

I was barely able to understand the nitty gritty of GST when rumours spread in Kolkata that many eateries were serving carcass meat. People in food business came under stress for two years (2018-19).

Biplob Basu is against mixing politic and palate

I waded through all this and stepping ahead of home-based catering, I opened a restaurant at Hazra (Kolkata) in 2018. A little over an year, and I managed to open another restaurant in Jadavpur in December 2019. And then the pandemic struck, strict lockdown was announced.

The new restaurant was at a rented property. I had to pay the rent, salaries of the staff, while there was no income. That broke my back. I am sure other MSMEs like me suffered a lot too, but Bengal also faced a cyclone (Amphan) during lockdown.

ALSO READ: ‘How I Turned The (Dining) Tables On Covid’

Even when the ‘Unlock’ began in phases, the business did not pick up. I was forced to shut one of the restaurant. I read about Central assistance to small and medium businesses so I went to apply for an MSME loan, only to realise that the process was lengthy and cumbersome, not beneficial for ventures like ours.

Now, with elections upon us, it is payback time. I want a party in power which understands that their decisions taken at the spur of the moment can adversely impact lives of people for years to come. I want a government that can create both a good social and business environment. I want a government that understands people as individuals and not a homogeneous groups with a single story. Clearly, my choice is the incumbent party. I am very happy with the way the Mamata government handled the pandemic.

There were strict checks at regular intervals to see if business units were following all due measures from face masks to hair masks, to regular sanitization of the premises to temperature checks. My entrepreneurship spirit is still alive and kicking and I will definitely steady myself up; all we need is a government that can put a spark into the hospitality sector again.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

‘A Woman Footballer Still Freaks Many People’

Bengaluru-based fashion designer Aloka D’Souza reveals how she has kept her passion for football alive and ‘kicking’

I was probably a six-year old when I took a fancy to football. My brother, then 12, taught me the basics of the game and I took them like a duck to water. I come from a family of sportspersons so I requested my father, an ex-cricketer, to enroll me into a football club. Alas, in early 1990s, there were no football clubs for young women. There was a local field where football was popular but hardly a woman was seen on the ground.

So, on my father’s advice, I trained in basketball. It was a different ballgame, but I did well; even played for the state of Karnataka. When I entered the Degree College at the age of 18, I found a fresh opportunity to play football. I picked the sport up in my first year, and was soon the top scorer, even representing the state a few times. However, post Degree College, it again came to an abrupt end. There were no women to play with.

I had studied apparel design in the college and pursued it as my vocation. The focus shifted from the field to fashion. The venture has now taken shape of Aloka’s Fashion Studio, catering to customized clothing needs.

Aloka (left) with one of her teammates

And as abruptly as it had left, football entered my life again. I met a lady called Queenie in my apartment elevator and she told me about Maya FC (Football Club). Queenie, along with Mari, is co-founder of Maya for Women, an NGO that they started for empowerment, visibility and choices of all women.

Maya FC came under their Maya Outdoors initiative, where the intention would be to encourage women to lead active lifestyles and be physically fit. At Maya FC, we had women coming from a real variety of backgrounds, mostly working women who either discontinued playing after school or college, or had never ever kicked a football before but had a leaning towards it.

ALSO READ: ‘In Our Days, A Woman Driver Drew Crowds’

There was no prerequisite to play with Maya FC, other than the interest to learn and give it a shot. As a team, we were once considered to be one of the best teams in the state, arguably second only to a team of young, professional footballers. The club is no longer there but some of us still, at least once a week or so, join a group of men to play a friendly game of football and have managed to continue it in this manner.

It is only in the past five-six years that we see tournaments and leagues for women football in India. Many people still express surprise when a woman speaks about football or says she plays the sport. Yet, we have come a long way since my childhood. A few weeks back, I was pleasantly surprised to see some 20 young girls practising football with other boys, at the a local ground near my place.

Every child, regardless of gender, should be exposed to a sport or a few of them. Sport can bring a lot of positivity to a person’s life if done right. I think sport, team sport to be specific, plays a vital role in the development of a person. It teaches you important lessons in discipline, commitment, empathy, among other life lessons. And yes, it gives you a string of friends forever.

As Told To Mamta Sharma

‘People Have Thrown Safeguards Out Of The Window’

Dr Abdul Samad Ansari, Director, Critical Care Services, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai talks about the risks of second covid-19 wave and the need to not lower our guard

The second wave is a known entity. In fact people are now talking about the third wave too. These are but the ripple effects. The spread of a contagion depends on our social behaviour: how we maintain hygiene and how we interact. If you are meeting five to seven people in a day, it can set off a block chain of infection. If you cut down on that interaction, besides using precautionary measures such as wearing masks and sanitising, you reduce the spread potential. It is that simple.

This happened last year. In September we saw the peak. And in the subsequent months, the efforts of previous six months bore fruits. But we started celebrating prematurely. As we lowered our guard, we are now facing the consequence. People returned to their daily routine as if it was business as usual. The resurgence in Covid-19 cases is a direct result of that. April and May will show the same kind of prolonged plateau. But if we again start becoming more careful, follow strict precautionary measures, along with the vaccination, there will hopefully be a flattening of the curve in June.

ALSO READ: ‘In Initial Days, Doctors Lost Sense Of Time’

Unlike the first wave, when majority of the elderly population fell prey to the contagion, the infection is seen more in the 35-65 years bracket. This is a mobile population, who are traveling for work, going out more in public and therefore getting infected.

Thankfully, our systems are not as overwhelmed as last year and the mortality rate is also not high. But if the cases continue to grow manifold, the resources will spread out thin. The same virus with only 100 people today as compared to 1000 people tomorrow will have a different mortality scenario. It is not the virus which is causing it, but the number of cases which will impact the resources and mortality.

I can notice that the attitude of people has gone back to pre-pandemic days. Many of them have this misconception that if they didn’t get Covid for one year during its rage, it won’t happen when it is weakening down. ‘Kuch nahi hota, mujhe kuch nahi hoga, dekha jayega.’ This is the kind of Covid-apathy that is setting in, and it is dangerous.

This pandemic has brought about some kind of hygiene training and discipline among us. There is no harm in maintaining it. My message to public is: we still need to practice these hygiene precautions aggressively; unnecessary travel, gatherings, entertainment activities should be avoided or carried out with behavioural modifications such as sanitizing, scrupulous handwashing and face masks.

ALSO READ: Virus Is There, Fear Is Gone

I have seen 80 percent of people in public do not wear a mask properly. Mostly, these are hanging over the neck. People have also stopped meticulously washing their hands. They feel twice in a day is good enough. People are all over the places. While I don’t want to sound negative, we need to get our guards and shield back.

Frontline workers and their families have suffered for one year, we have to acknowledge those sacrifices and not lower the defence. For a year, since the onset of pandemic, my colleagues and I went home late every night, only to leave early in the morning. I could not take care of my wife, parents and children. On the contrary, I could be possibly walking in with the virus infection every day. This was a real burnout. People must realise that their careless behaviour can negate all the hard work put in by frontline worker for one year.

As told to Mamta Sharma