India Stand tall in fighting War Against Corona

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Imagine the whole of humanity - indoors. Instead, butterflies fluttering across wide open roads in an Indian metropolis, blue skies over China, clear water and swarms of fish and swans back in Venice's canals! The new global mantra - stay at home - is having quite an unintended consequence. The world is seeing its arteries declogged after a long, long time, like a smoker who has just quit. But utopia will have to wait. The sense right now is of an impending apocalypse. It's sheer panic, and not love, that was making the world go round - or rather, stay still - on the Ides of March 2020. From Eiffel Tower to the Taj Mahal, from Euro2020 to the IPL, there was just one buzzphrase: 'flatten the curve'. The bio-tsunami breaking over our globalised landscape has emptied malls and pubs, hacked down the population density at bustling tech parks and divided humanity between conscientious self - quarantiners, manic hypochondriacs, and plain and simple maniacs who run away from isolation wards.

A new ­abbreviation, WFH, is all over. Work From Home isn’t a weekly or monthly amenity anymore—it’s the new normal for the foreseeable future. And people are rediscovering ­themselves. A big KJo family drama is unfolding in homes across Indian cities...call it Love in the Time of Corona.

It’s like an unofficial, self-imposed Section 144 over most of urban India. Yes, COVID-19 is still an urban disease: from its entry through gleaming, private-run airport terminals, it will percolate out to the hinterland via the city-village interface that unfolds every day, from the NRI and the phoren-returnee to the ATM guard, the Uber driver and the domestic help who flits between condominium towers and subhuman tenements. And we have scores of detective stories unravelling (in bet­w­een a worldwide medical thriller that could put a Robin Cook in a trauma ward). Who all did the 18-year-old boy who retur­ned from the UK to Calcutta on March 15 meet in his first 36 hours? His IAS mother and doctor father, instead of quarantining the son, threw a welcome party for him. And next day, he was taken for an impromptu tour of Nabanna, the state ­secretariat complex, by his bureaucrat mother, who, incredibly enough, later held a state-level meeting on coronavirus in those offices! A new kind of visual is being issued with urgency: patient flow charts, detailing every point in their itineraries, every place they visited. Between now-emptied cafes and the very many boxes from a week ago lined up in those flow charts may lie the story of a would-be Malthussian epidemic.