By Dr Nitin Pandey
Dehradun, 14 Aug: The PM’s address at the Red Fort in Delhi on Independence Day is something that gives me goose pimples every time I watch it. The unfurling of the National Tricolour makes me feel proud to be an Indian. This year, as the Nation goes through the Coronavirus Pandemic, the feeling of pride makes me hold my head up even higher. I am a proud Indian.
Looking back at March, I remember the panic all around. TV screens showing mass cremations in China, people being locked in cages on suspicion of being Corona positive, empty supermarket shelves in Europe, doctors crying in Italy, ventilators/PPE crises across the world, rooms full of dead bodies, etc., sent shivers down the spine of even the most hardened among us, as we waited, with bated breath, for the ‘Tsunami’ to strike us. I remember 22 March, when PM Modi addressed the nation and asked everyone to come to the windows and clap or bang utensils for 5 minutes and the “janta curfew”. Most of us, including me, to be honest, did not even know what PPE is, then. India did not even make PPE kits at that time and the only lab which did tests for Coronavirus was in Pune. Carrying a nation of 1.3 billion people, each one of them with their own firm opinion, different perceptions, different levels of understanding and different languages, through such tough times is no joke. State governments headed by different political parties had their own priorities and points of view. From 22 March till today, India’s journey has been unprecedented. Today, we have 1400 testing centres across the Nation, we export PPE & Ventilators and even our ASHA workers can use Pulse Oximeters. We have come a long way. True, we had difficulties, true, some things that were done now look as if they should have been done differently, true, we should have been better prepared, but overall we have till date avoided the horrors the West has been through and criticising actions retrospectively is not really appropriate. Our worst fears never came true; our death rate is the lowest in the world. Was this because of our Government’s actions or because God has been kind to us, that is debatable, but since even today we fully don’t understand the virus so such debates are infructuous.
The war against Coronavirus is far from over. The number of persons getting infected with COVID-19 is increasing daily and will keep increasing for a few months more, reaching higher and higher figures, but that is the normal curve of a Pandemic and we have to go through it. What we should hope to achieve, however, is low morbidity and low mortality. We must keep our personal protection secure and we must lead our lives as normally as we can. We must take pride in the fact that being in India, at this point, is much safer than being in the US or Europe. Above all, we must be proud to be Indian. Jai Hind and a Happy Independence Day to everyone!
(Dr Nitin Pandey is a Dehradun based ex Indian Air Force doctor, a Pediatrician and an active Social worker.)