Meghalaya: ‘SMS’ – Weapons to fight against ‘Corona’ by George B Lyngdoh 

Meghalaya: ‘SMS’ – Weapons to fight against ‘Corona’ by George B Lyngdoh 

SHILLONG | AUG 13, 2020: 

A biological bomb has been detonated in our midst! The spread of 'Corona Virus'. It has deeply affected the citizens across Meghalaya during the past five months. 

Fear has flooded their hearts and minds. Our fragile health has never before been threatened and assaulted to this magnitude. People have lost their savings, been stopped from earning their livelihoods, markets have remained closed, and thousands have been devastated by the pandemic. 

The losses suffered by our farmers will never be recovered. Our children and youth have missed their schools and colleges…at what cost?

INTERNATIONAL COVID COUNT

Till the morning of 10 August 2020, 2,02,54,685 persons have been infected by COVID-19 in the entire world. From these, 1,31,18,621 (64.76%) persons have recovered; 7,38,930(3.64%) persons have died and 63,97,134 (31.58%) persons are presently under treatment. 

NATIONAL COVID COUNT

In India, there are 22,68,675 infected persons, of which 15,83,489 (69.79%) have been cured, 45,257 (1.99%) persons have died, and 6,39,929(28.20%) are being healed.

LOCAL COVID COUNT

In our State, till the morning of 11 August 2020, of the 1,114 persons who have been infected with Corona Virus, 498 (44.7%) have been restored to good health, 6 (0.53%) have died and 610 (54.75%) persons are under treatment. 

The above figures indicate that there are medicines to heal the infected persons, even though we do not have the curative vaccine yet. Therefore, the fearful presence of the Corona Virus should caution us to stay alert, but it should not be granted permission to petrify us. 

In our State, people have been very cautious and protective. This explains the reason for the virus being contained to the extent that it has been. 

After 5 months, we have seen the efforts of everyone — the Government, political leaders, church leaders, NGOs, and individuals within their capacities. However, I cannot restrain myself from highlighting a few 'positive' notes, as I pray that we test 'negative'.

On 16 July 2020 at CHC Bhoirymbong, I had my second meeting with the Synjuk ki Nongsynshar Shnong Ri Bhoi Mihngi. The discussions were meaningful, the decisions had depth, and I witnessed the energy and resolve to confront the 'Corona Virus' pandemic and protect our citizens from its menacing effects. I was thankful for the blessings we received in dealing with the pandemic due to the responsibility shouldered by our villages.

In a meeting held at Nongpoh in April 2020, I suggested to the authorities that they place at least 3-4 vehicles at each Block Office so that good publicity about the crisis at hand could be propagated across all villages. 

Due to prevailing constraints, the publicity vehicle could be despatched to only a few large villages. In others, the Sangot (Village Crier) had to extensively flex his vocal cords to update the people about the numerous orders being issued every day. As was the case with other representatives, my ears were strained attending to hours of calls from distressed citizens.

PARTICIPATIVE GOVERNANCE

In the past four months, I witnessed how people and village heads boldly came forward to help the sick, arranged essentials, rendered assistance in distributing relief items, gave aid in transporting our farmers' goods, and resolutely kept on combating the numerous challenges faced during the lockdowns. I am deeply thankful for such a high-spirited communion evinced by the communities coming together in a concerted effort to bring about winning outcomes. Such a spirit of togetherness should continue as it will spread unity, harmony, and prosperity across the rural terrain.

Our villages and traditional institutions are a unique example of a form of participative governance that is singularly distinctive in the world. Yes, a few more refined efforts are required so that they can withstand judicial scrutiny. 

A few critics have also observed that some tend to deviate from core fundamentals of transparency, mutual respect, and the distinctive tradition of upholding righteousness. These deviations will weaken the institutions and need a course correction. Our Constitutional values should be at the core of governance. However, their uniqueness cannot be hidden or subjected to ridicule – especially in light of their outstanding efforts during the lockdown periods.

During the recently concluded Budget Session (May 2020), I requested that the State Government ensure that a sizeable amount from the Rs. 20 lakh crore (Central Economic Stimulus) be brought through developmental programmes for our villages, where it would be a token of appreciation for accolades earned from the World Health Organisation (WHO). I hope the State Government takes it forward.

The decisions taken at the meeting on 16 July 2020 were to request the people to be extremely vigilant, and thus to take all precautions, especially to adhere to the three protocols of SMS – Social distance, Mask, and Sanitiser/Soap.

We can defeat the Corona pandemic. We have the weapons to fight it – the determination of traditional institutions, the support of the people, and the resolve to practice the actions in the protocols laid down in our mandate. Stay 'positive' but test 'negative'.

(The writer is a Congress MLA from Umroi Constituency)

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