Handling Covid-19 : State Vs Individual

Covid-19 crisis has suddenly turned the world upside down in every aspect. Besides the health risk world is facing right now, there is a threat of financial slowdown which can push millions of people into extreme poverty. Even strongest of Economies of world are playing catch up both to control the epidemic as well as to keep economic meltdown contained. As most of people would agree this is biggest crisis of our life times for almost all living being, this crisis requires unprecedented resolve from the humanity. While some of richest countries have struggled to adapt to a pro-active approach, there are still few examples of lesser resourced economies doing exceptionally well to contain the crisis. Almost immediately comes a question in mind, what is that these countries doing right? Is it the state or is it the individuals in the society? Can these measures can be ramped up in the course of few weeks or is it years of socially responsible behavior which is paying off in these times of crisis?

Amongst few countries which has been able to contain the crisis in very unique way is south Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. There are many more examples or even better examples, but even in these 3 country each one of them responded to the threat in their own unique way depending on their financial strength and Social fabric. There has been impact on their economic activities to a varying level but what clearly comes out was that role of individual has been one of key factors in ability of each country to ward of this threat.

While USA and many European countries are still in doldrums and the pressure is building on to open up the economic activities even in worst hit regions within these countries. The question is, can the Social distancing measures can be left to individuals or does it need to be enforced by force and penal codes. Sweden is one country which had taken risk and left it to individuals to social distancing guidelines, which has now been revised due to spike in death rate of elderly people. In a country like India or Indonesia where population density is high and furthermore large section of society still living under poverty the social distancing hardly means anything unless they are provided for in the period of economic inactivity. Returning migrant laborers in India despite all the hardships of travelling hundreds of miles on foot are forced to take this extreme measure to reach their ancestral village. These returning migrants may cause spike in cases in rural India but mammoth of this mass seems unstoppable by any kind of revival in economic activity in short term.

Most countries while have gone through some level of lockdown measures, now are forced to restart the economic activity to avoid the slipped slop of economic recession. Opening up restrictions are supported by social distancing guidelines however the great responsibility will be on individuals to follow the guidelines provided by their respective governments. This is where the self discipline and socially responsible behavior will come into play. It was already known that the Lockdowns and curfews can never be a long term solution and in most cases they were turned out to a tool to buy time to prepare for the situation afterwords. Of-course lockdown helped in flattening the curve in a lot of countries but what happens after these restrictions are lifted is what will matter.

In countries with big population or high population density or large population with low income group, it is being articulated that containing the community transfer will be a challenge but it is also true that socially responsible behavior will be key in this second battle. Self discipline and self restraint is something which is hard to measure even with most closely related demographic measurement tool like literacy or income. We can not expect a society to inculcate socially responsible behavior in matter of weeks or even months.  The individual who have been less sensitive towards their community, their surroundings, their society, their environment and their country, it would be challenge to make them use restraint for the benefit of others. Not allowing stigma amongst such mass would be additional task for governments.

So what could have been done to prepare for such disasters ? Of-course no country could have been 100% ready for such a situation however there is few things which can changed now so that when such a situations presents itself again we would be much more prepared economically as well as mentally. Apart from infrastructure to support better early detection and cure for infected people there is this key things which could have been game changing in the whole ordeal, a better educated, socially responsible and empathetic society. A society in which the governments can trust their citizens to adopt social distancing measure religiously without using force or penal codes. where individual stay maintain Social distancing for benefits of others, fully understanding that any measure taken at personal level to stop the spread of virus will ultimately benefit each individual in the society.



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