#VinitasPune: Social Distancing With Compassion And Solidarity Is Imperative

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Corona Virus has gripped the world and all nations and citizens, rich or poor are victims of a pandemic that has stranded all; humbled all and stunned all.

Since its containment rests largely on social distancing, it’s important to see how we are reacting to this social responsibility

How self-centered, unreasonable, illogical and nasty can people be? And that too, in a progressive and intellectual city like Pune, which has traditionally been in the forefront of stellar educational and social reforms since early 19th century and in its modern avatar that enjoys a prominent position on the IT world map?

Unfortunately, Pune’s intellectual image just got a drubbing, after the arrival of Corona

Virus infection in the first week of March. At this point of time, with 13 cases out of 38 in the Maharashtra, found in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, patients and their families in a couple of housing societies are being harassed because they are quarantined.

This has propelled Pune’s Divisional Commissioner Naval Kishore Ram to warn residents to refrain from socially ostracizing the affected victim and his or her family. He stated via the news media that contracting coronavirus is not a sin – it is a form of flu and anyone can contract it. Hence, it is important to refrain from any ill treatment to them. Ram also made it clear that at the other end, none of the patients or those who have been ordered to self-quarantine, should take it casually.

In fact, the patient and his family can even lodge a police complaint against such injustice. Ram issued a written order in which he stated that: ‘Some citizens who returned after travelling to affected countries have been kept in isolation in their homes so as not to spread the coronavirus.

These citizens should not be harassed or expelled by the citizens of their housing societies, the chairman of the society, secretaries and members.

In the event of such a case, action will be taken against the concerned under Disaster Management Act and Indian Penal Code.’’

Several complaints of such nature have been made to the divisional commissioner. In one case, all did the youngster do was to casually mention that his friend tested positive for coronavirus and all hell broke loose. It is important that the reaction of the society members should be one of vigil, pro-activeness, compassion and co-operation. A sterling example being that of a housing society on Sinhagad Road which comprises over 300 apartments and where a couple tested positive after a trip abroad. All the housing society members observed self-quarantine, pro-actively enhanced cleanliness of their premises and co-operate with the Pune Municipal Corporation on its efforts to sanitise the buildings therein.

The fear factor came from outsiders like milk, vegetable and newspaper vendors who refused to do deliveries. However, a fortnight is over and the society is limping back to normal.

Also, the casual attitude of those having come from the seven coronavirus-hit countries brings a sense of anguish. Despite clear orders from the central, state and district authorities that they should self-quarantine themselves for a fortnight, some have taken it lightly and are freely mingling in public areas.

What is worrying the authorities now is that, the latest of the four cases are due to local transmissions and hence, social distancing has now become even more necessary and relevant than before.

Despite district and municipal orders to shut malls and public gardens, most of them are open and Puneites are patronizing them. There are lot of people on the roads and I was irked to see a man in the PMPML bus spitting out of the window at the Swargate junction during red signal. Restaurants, the hub of entertainment for Puneites, are open, tempting people to visit them. One of my friend observed, `schools can be closed but what to do with children playing on the streets? Since they are not going to school, in my lane, all day kids of all age groups are playing all sorts of games.

Area around Kamla Nehru Park is packed with people all day –earlier it used to be only in the evening.’’ No wonder, the district collector is contemplating imposition of Section 144 which bans assembly of more than four people anywhere in public areas.

Authorities are apparently not making too much media noise about housing societies where there are self-quarantine episodes but are quietly doing the needful to disinfect them. For God’s sake, in this technological-savvy 21st century, are we talking of coronavirus as a social stigma?

Lets get out of this mode and invoke and spread a scientific temper for the health and happiness of self and those around us!


#Visit and trust only the Ministry Of Health and Family Welfare for authentic information on the corona virus.

#All views expressed in this column are the authors and/or individuals quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same. All data and information is as of 16.3.2020 1300hrs.

Vinita Deshmukh

Vinita Deshmukh

Passion for the written word that comes alive, not only to tell a story, but to speak out loud about all that's good, bad and the ugly in society...

That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.

Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,
Vinita Deshmukh