Md Farrukh Ilyas Not a “new normal” July 31, 2020

We all talk about village life. Some of us talk about the living in the cities compared with the village lifestyle, but the plot of the story is different from both the side. The pattern of lifestyle, culture, tradition, food, and above all, the fresh air and the spread of natural vegetation in a village. Every time this brings a moment of happiness when we have our visit, especially first visit, to the Indian villages right from our cities.

In this case, take me as the fortunate one, I have got a life to live in the villages but always for a limited period of time, a few days. This is due to my academic life; a few months stay comes prescribed as per the vacations. But during this prolonged nationwide lockdown due to the virus, the COVID-19, I was here for a longer stay.

Every day the numbers of fear had never grown to the peak of caveats as the numbers of the worldwide cases of COVID-19 are increasing at a rapid pace, the fear is getting deeper, and getting entrenched in our subconscious minds. That’s the fear of death, the fear to die from the deadly virus. Amidst all these, there is fear and the very dismal addressed to a question, how are the villagers dealing with the virus? At times, often given all the resources at hand to the cities and the towns.

For the fact, as the cities and town are in the full cluster of the virus, how do villagers have to follow up with the rational choice of taking measures? The moment I am penning this story, people are out in the market, having no adherence to the fact that social distancing and masks are obligatory for a visit to a public place. To this I feel education is more than a privilege to the extent it invites cognitive thinking, rational choice-making and scientific temperaments to let the society behave and stay civil.

I write this from a village situated in the district of West Bengal state, sharing the border with another state, Bihar. If education has a foremost duty, it is to let the individual think and tell a story to the world that has astounding state of affairs.

The neighbouring areas of this village are already on alert due to the daily increase of cases, but for villages, I think warnings have customising settings. They don’t apply to the lives of the villages, they have preferences to choose a life of ignorance with a belief they refuse to buy the cost.

“Why are people out in the nearby market for no immediate cause, that too without masks and following social distancing?” I asked a man while talking to him about the virus.

“People are of the belief that Corona would not come to this side of the borders. That we are safe, that’s their notion,” the man responded.

Nonsensical, right? There’s absolutely no reasoning involved. But it’s not that very response to the question I had asked, they are made to deal like this with the virus out of their beliefs. The majority of people from this village are not much educated, the youths are dropouts of their schools. Some of them have passed their board examinations for no future outlined, but to join their father’s agricultural works, local shops, businesses, et al.

“Since the local governance is under the supervision of the Gram Panchayat, have you all been communicated awareness measures regarding the virus?” I asked a young lad who supports his dad in his agricultural work and is a graduate from a college nearby. “Awareness measure?! There is nothing on this name, there is no channel of communication established in the village yet to my knowledge,” I heard him with his voice downcast. Mahatma Gandhi’s vision was to take the democracy to the grassroots of India, which is enshrined in the constitution of India in the Principle Directives of States Policy (PDSP) Article 40, I kept thinking of that. Why is life selective when it comes to governance?

When we are rational and cognitive towards our thinking, and looking to serve the people for the better, the living, welfare, and the standards of living in a village depend on the local bodies for their works across various departments. And here, where I was, the people had little idea and information about threats and precautionary measures to prevent from the lethal virus. It wasn’t a new normal; lack of awareness also adds to the problem. The systems in place are sought to uphold the welfare of the state but watching them die without discharging their duty, is a disrespect to the idea of the nation, moreover, to the vision of legendary leaders.

People are out in the crowded markets without putting on masks, showing complete disregard to the norms of social distancing, and even denying the existence of the threat the virus has. Their denial to follow the stated rules is their power they submit to themselves as statements. They are hosting marriage ceremonies, joining them in numbers; tea shops are busy with its local customers, the life doesn’t seem to have taken a step back here. I’m left perplexed.

It seems there is a borderline between the metro cities and the neighbouring areas including this village. Amidst all, taking the rounds near me, I’m trying to update the family members at home regarding this deadly virus, strict laws and regulations, as directed by the ministry of health. But this is making me think deeper. About the education and the privilege I have on hand.

There is still a normal life but the approach towards tackling the virus appears to be silent for the people, as they are out chasing the ignorant life and perhaps, have no intention to lend an ear to hear one. To them, the fear is unknown, wish, it doesn’t remain so. That only tells the access to education and relevant resources to be aware is very much a need.

Life is precious and fragile.

Cover Image from iStock by Getty Images.

If reading would only be a thing in life to aim for, I wouldn't deny this universe to make it a heaven. A political science student from Aligarh Muslim University. His work has appeared in Newslaundry, Newsd, among other publications. He can be reached on Twitter: @amufarrukh

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