COVID-19 in Odisha: Govt’s Perspective, People’s Perception & Practice in Rural Setting

We are now living in a globalised world. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the negatives of globalization are surfacing. The spread of the disease has been transnational. Individuals across geographies have fallen prey to it. Human safety in the globalised world is a big question.    

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as pandemic and issued frequent advisories based on scientific instructions after consultation with the international health experts, which suggests that “Social Distancing” is the only way to have a full control over the spread of this virus as it follows a method of human to human transmission. WHO also instructed every member country to strictly follow its guideline.

Being a signatory of WHO and being a responsible country, the Government of India follows the guideline of WHO and add some extra regulations in the administrative level to control the spread of the virus. “Lockdown” has been announced by the Government of India to facilitate social distancing. This has been accepted by the citizens of the country and appreciated by the international agencies.

Lockdown Situation in Odisha

Focusing on the hazardous repercussion of COVID-19, the Prime Minister of India on dated 19th March, 2020 declared “Janata Curfew” to be observed on dated 22nd March, 2020 from 7.00 A.M. to 9.00 P.M. which later ongathered massive public support. The main purpose of the initiative was to promote awareness of “Social Distancing” among public all over India. In addition to this the Prime Minister also did an appeal to the public to offer a symbol of solidarity to the public servants (Corona Fighters- medical staffs, Municipal staffs, security Personnel and others) by biting bells, clapping, lighting candles in the roof-top of their respective homes at 5.00 P.M. of the same evening. In the subsequent period the Prime Minister of India decided to extend the lockdown for a period of 21 days (24th March -14th April, 2020) and the second lockdown from 15th April to 3rd May, 2020 by giving strict instructions to follow.

Government of Odisha’s Perspective:

As far as Odisha is concerned, the Chief Minister of Odisha is known for his disaster management strategy. As far as the COVID-19 pandemic situation is concerned the Govt. of Odisha has taken many path finding initiatives to control the infection rate of the pandemic COVID-19. As a precaution, the Govt. of Odisha became  the first state to extend the lockdown period till 30th April, 2020. Despite nationwide lockdown, many public welfare initiatives have been taken by the state Govt. to control its spread. Among them, most important initiatives are declaring Containment Zones to the infected areas in the capital of the state, opening COVID-19  hospitals in different district headquarters by PPP mode, allotment of 5 lakh rupees to every GP for the provision of quarantine facility for the international and inter-state migrants in GP level, provision of advance money and rationsto the poor family, issue of advance salary of four months to the medical professionals, closing of all educational institutions,  shifting of weakly markets to a public place to maintain social distance among the buyers and sellers, home delivery of necessary goods and items are praiseworthy. Irrespective of these initiatives, one of the most important step is the appointment of COVID-19 spokesperson to brief the public about the daily updates regarding the COVID-19 situation in Odisha.

People’s Perception and Practice in Rural Setting:

As the present scholar is a researcher and focuses his attention on the rural pockets of the state, has found that initially, people of rural Odisha were skeptic about lockdown and social distancing. It took time to inject the knowledge about the virulence of the disease. The use of the social and electronic media and the scripts well written and demonstrated to sensitize the rural people was a tremendously welcome step by the government.  Rural Odisha as such believes in social solidarity and the community sentiment runs strong among the people. So, social distancing was little difficult to entrench into the perception and practice of the ruralites. But it was noted within a few days the government’s two pronged advocacy.e. about the disease and about the need for distancing brought the youth population , local elite population of the villages into action. The civil societies in the rural pockets could bring a mass sensitization in favour of lockdown and distancing. Even quarantine of the landing population was strictly adhered to.  The vigilant villagers took up the responsibility to barricade their villages. Most Important thing is that now days people in rural areas are continuously watching news channels to get updated instructions from the Govt. at 4.30 P.M. every day and Mr. Subroto Bagchi becomes a popular figure among the rural people of Odisha. The best thing noted is that across parties, across castes, across gender , across age, people have soon become wedded to the Government instructions and have united together to fight against the pandemic. National safety and security has moved every rural man who hardly knew anything beyond his community.

This is the new avtar of solidarity and a new thinking on humanity.

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