While some Indians are struggling to get OTPs on their mobile phones from the Co-WIN portal for vaccination, there are many who are struggling to earn their rotis. The plight of OTPs and rotis shows the divide in privilege and the vastness of suffering that India is facing during this pandemic.
People struggling for OTPs and playing fastest finger first to grab a slot for vaccines are more privileged than people struggling to arrange a day's meal, but both of them have suffered with mental and personal grief, have lost their loved ones, and are struggling to get a bed for their near and dear ones. From top politicians, celebs to doctors, this pandemic has been impartial in affecting people from all stratas, class and privilege.
It is important to understand that this divide in privilege during the pandemic needs to be addressed to overcome the situation and bring lives to normalcy, while everyone seems to be sailing in the same boat and suffering equally across the country, there need to be different solutions for privileged and non-privileged citizens.
Less than 2% of Indian population is on Twitter, which is now being hailed as the most helpful resource in finding hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, medicine, plasma and everything you need to fight this pandemic. The central and state governments are making important announcements regarding restrictions to manage the pandemic to vaccinations etc on Twitter first. The all important vaccine slots and vaccination centre lists are being populated on Twitter first and by the time the citizens not on Twitter or on any online platform come to know about the timings, the slots and opportunities are lost.
The survival of fittest is now turned into the survival of 'tech savvy online fittest citizen' - who knows whom to follow on Twitter, whom to ask for help from and also to crib and troll to vent out anger, suffering and stress while the rest are struggling to find a day's meal, leave out the data charges to come online or afford a smartphone.
Booking of vaccine slots is online, information regarding walk-in vaccination centres and their availability is online, there are online dashboards to check the availability of hospital beds but if you don't have an internet connection, you have to travel several kilometres to various hospitals to get a bed that too if you are lucky to find and afford an ambulance or a vehicle.
While the so called privileged citizens who have access to internet and can book a vaccine slot, search for hospitals, send out SOS calls and can get a response online are struggling to overcome the trauma and mental stress and still losing their near and dear ones, imagine what someone who is clueless, who can't even spell or pronounce Remdesivir or for whom Co-WIN and Aarogya Setu app is as alien as walking is for a fish, must be going through. But their lives and future are now dependent on them.
We need to fill this privilege gap to overcome the pandemic, else the recovery and path to make lives normal for all will be difficult and then the divide which is now united due to grief and suffering and is not visible, will become a scar.
Right now all of us are sailing on the same sinking boat but some fellow citizens are privileged and know how to swim while there are many who even fear water. We can't teach swimming to everyone, which means we can't expect the 1.3 Billion population to be tech-savvy and fight this pandemic like their fellow privileged one’s are planning to do.
We have seen grassroot campaigns during HIV outbreak, every Indian citizen, urban or rural, remember the phrase “Ye Chune Se Nahi Failta” or the current Polio campaign “Do Boond Zindagi Ke.” is a success story and ready to replicate template to make everyone aware and impower to fight the pandemic. While “Do Gaj Ki Doori, Mask Hai Jaruri” is an effort and initiative taken by the government to fight this pandemic but it lacks the reach, conviction and implementation at the rural and grassroot level.
The HIV campaign was a difficult one considering the social stigma and taboo attached to it, but below example will explain how efficiently it was executed.
From blood donation to testing the template is ready -
The vaccine hesitancy, vaccine reach, hesitancy to get the test done and fear of getting detained in the quarantine centers are the major areas to be addressed and awareness campaigns which are now penetrating the privileged online citizens should be extended to offline and under-privileged citizens.
If we can pull around 80% voting percentage in elections across states, cities and villages during this pandemic, there can be nothing stopping the government, local authorities and administration from running successful ground-level mass awareness campaigns to bridge the gap between the privileged and under-privileged citizens. We as a nation need to be united by knowledge and not plight to overcome this pandemic.
(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 12, 2021 02:49 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).