Day 7: Disorientation

31/03/2020

Day 7

Governor Cumo says, ‘This virus is a great equalizer’. That looks like from the virus’ POV. With several hotels reportedly going vacant, one of the US cities marked boxes with paint that separated people with six feet distance. These were homeless people who slept out in the open. The UN Secretary General, Guterres has declared Covid – 19 as the ‘worst crisis since WWII’ with no parallels in the recent past. He added that it is the greatest challenge for the UN since its formation. It isn’t a secret how well has UN risen to challenges.

Meanwhile, Delhi has a situation – they discovered a very large religious congregation, attended by more than two thousand people, that was held by Tablighi Jamaat. This was convened just when India was waking up to the pandemic and had begun screening passengers arriving on its airports. Attendees of the congregation went back to the states they came from. Some have died from Covid-19. Those states are now busy tracing the attendees and others who came in contact with them. This is a typical Indian situation. Processions, events, fairs and similar large gatherings go on, working themselves into ready ammunition and explode on the Indian administration one fine day. We excel in this kind of mess – years of oversight and then an exploding situation at a wrong time. Indian government is also probably unique in another way – it fights a pandemic using a police force!

Covid-19 will change us I wrote earlier. Covid-19 has also begun testing us. This is evident as each day passes. Without exception healthcare systems across the world are overwhelmed. Social cohesion will also be tested – in the kind of conversations happening around the Jamaat’s congregation in Delhi. There is a touch of religious tensions. At the same time, politically, the social contract is likely to see a reconfiguration. The largest service infrastructures that people are dependent on right now are private. Amazon is reportedly hiring 100,000 workers to fulfill the demand during lockdown. 

In the absence of economically productive work to do daily life has acquired a meandering character. Unless there are immediate matters to address like essential supplies the day is filled with news, distant concerns, thoughts and rethinking about matters that were not admissible on a typical workday in normal times. The structure, order, legibility and the whole bubble-wrapped package that we worked hard to build in our lives to make it productive, meaningful and worth living seem to be hanging in the air with the lockdown. The disorientation is building up as we watch governments try to control the pandemic. Perhaps, it is also evident in today’s journal entry.

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