The West’s old, carefully-crafted myth of an uncivilised India seems to have taken a hit in view of the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic- the case in point being Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for social distancing that has met shocking defiance, as opposed to Prime Minister Modi’s fervent appeal for a Janta Curfew that has been embraced across the country by his followers and critics alike.
Australia, which is still grappling with the fallout of the bushfires that is said to have killed more than 400 people in the country, tried to enforce social distancing on being hit by the novel Wuhan virus with Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressing the nation.
However, the fervent appeal by the authorities for social distancing have not been obliged as thousands of people huddled closely on the country’s beaches. Sydney’s main beaches including the Bondi Beach, which grabbed eyeballs after Sydneysiders flocked together in large numbers on the Beach this Saturday amidst the Coronavirus scare, ignoring public health warnings.
The Bondi Beach fiasco has, in fact, totally derailed Australia’s fight against Coronavirus after several backpackers were found infected near the Bondi Beach. The NSW Health has stated, “Several new diagnoses of COVID-19 have been made in backpackers in the Bondi area.” As a result of thousands coming out on the Bondi Beach, as if in an act of defiance, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia have gone up to 1,286.
Meanwhile, a clearly infuriated Scott Morrison has announced that there will be sterner, more draconian measures to enforce social distancing. In an unusually strong statement, he said what happened at the Bondi Beach was “not OK and served as a message to federal and state leaders that too many Australians are not taking these issues seriously enough”.
The Australian Prime Minister added, “The measures that we will be considering tonight means that state premiers and chief ministers may have to take far more Draconian measures to enforce social distancing particularly in areas of outbreaks than might otherwise be the case.”
On the other hand, people in India have co-operated unprecedently with the authorities, and have also understood the critical role that social distancing and the Janta Curfew have to play- breaking the chain of the spread of the virus and how even a single day of complete shutdown can help in plugging the spread of the infection as the authorities disinfect public places and also block human-to-human transmission of the novel virus.
There is a very wrong notion that Indian citizens are deviants and lack civic sense, while those of the West and the other so-called civilised countries are conscious, law-abiding citizens. The Bondi beach fiasco brutally demolishes this age-old myth as the people of India from all walks of life united to make the Janta Curfew a grand success, which is unmatched and unparalleled in the global fight against the Coronavirus Pandemic.
A big issue in social distancing, like any other political or social initiative, is that the detractors choose not to listen to the Heads of Governments/ States, for example, the Blue States (Democrats-ruled) in the United States. But not in India where even the Opposition-ruled states like Kerala and Maharashtra have enthusiastically supported the call for the Janta Curfew virtually bringing themselves to a state of complete lockdown.
Now, Australia is at the brink of devastating itself, maybe even emerging as the next Italy, as thousands defied their Prime Minister’s call for social distancing, while India steps up the fight against Coronavirus by honouring PM Modi’s call for Janta Curfew- without State authorities having to enforce social distancing.