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Morale Booster

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Prime Minister Modi’s call to observe nine minutes of ‘diya’ lighting on 5 April is an obvious bid to raise public morale and inculcate a sense of solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. And, as usual, it is also a red herring for the opposition to chase, while he gets on with his actual job. Of course, the opposition immediately snatched the bait, giving him a lot of advice on how to properly run the country. It will keep social media ablaze for the next couple of days, after which another morsel will be dropped off the table.

In the meanwhile, India is at the crucial stage when it will become clear what path the virus will take. Its numbers still remain miniscule compared to the hard hit countries, but the impact of the numerous preventive measures taken has still to become known. While this stage passes, India still needs to prepare as best it can for the possible next one, which will involve dealing with a much larger number of positive cases. Considering the scale at which this challenge will confront the nation, the first bottleneck will be the shortage of doctors, nurses and other trained technical personnel. Preparations are being made, of course, to summon to the fold medical staff available with all organisations, as well as those that are retired.

Hospitals, ICUs, isolation wards have to be prepared, with strict protocols being established. Everybody is pitching in from the Railways, the Armed Forces, to private institutions of all kinds in many ingenuous ways. Necessary equipment is being purchased from abroad including ventilators, PPE, masks, testing equipment, etc. The impact of this should be visible around the time the lockdown ends. Hopefully, all the initiatives taken by Indian industries and research institutions will start bearing fruit in a more sustainable indigenous response. It should be amply clear to those complaining about ‘inadequate preparation’ that this is all being done. That it gets done in time and properly depends also upon the people of the country, who will have to pitch in at their levels to ensure success.

Keeping the morale high is also necessary for all those who are presently involved in ensuring food and other necessities reach the poor and needy, including stray animals like dogs and cows. Right now their enthusiasm is at a high and, every day, more are joining the cause. But, till such time some semblance of normality returns, they must keep going with a marathon like grit. Otherwise, all their efforts will go waste. This is why, the occasional symbolism and morale-boosting is a necessity.