Today, on the last day of March, I got the second shot of Covid vaccine. Made in India. Unbelievable.
Just a year back, in the fourth week of March, last year, we started taking Covid seriously or should I say, so seriously that we became panicky. We did not know the nature of invisible enemy. We did not know the nature of ailments, did not know what are the treatments. We started to learn what is lockdown. How to cover our faces with masks. How to use sanitizers. Worst part was, we started avoiding known people, even blood relations, as pariah.
But our country rose to the occasion. We learnt through trials and tribulations. We built medical facilities, expertise, industries to produce equipment, all supporting items like masks, sanitizers, ventilators. We discovered and produced our own vaccines.
Countless people lost jobs. Economy got devastated. Still the images of faceless labourers, their families, little children, trudging along highways, railway lines are etched in my mind. Looked like reenactment of haunting description of Chinese famine by Pearl S Buck. But Government showed the presence of hearts. Thousands of trains started crisscrossing the country, transporting jobless migrant labourers to their homes. Thank God. Free rations kept lives fed all across India, saving crores of marginal, helpless population.
Schools, colleges were shut. I thought end of enlightment has dawned. Soon, even toddlers started attending classes through mobiles, pads, lap tops. Suddenly people have started working from home. Coat and tie on top of dhoti or lungi or shorts have become formal attire. All the laughter and warmth of personal proximity are replaced by dry computer screens, converting three dimensional human beings to two dimensional images, tucked at an obscure corner of mobile or laptop screen.
So many people lost jobs. When around 600 contract workers were fired from Space Application Centre (SAC), my heart cried. Powers that be decided to remove them. So many of them just married, took loan from banks to buy flats or motor cycles. So many of them used to write to me. But I was out of power. Helpless witness to heartless reality.
So many of my known faces, acquaintances, relatives, school classmates, neighbours were devoured by this invisible enemy. I feel lucky to sail through this difficult time.
Despite the fresh surge in Covid cases in many States, one is confident that the vaccination campaign will deliver results and also by sticking to the prescribed norms and following the Covid guidelines, we are going to come out of the nightmare. Keeping fingers crossed. I realised that the best part of bad times is that they do not last long.
Tapan Misra, is a distinguished scientist, who has earlier headed India’s Space Application Centre (SAC) and was also Advisor in the Department of Space, Government of India.