Updated on: Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 12:25 AM IST

FPJ Edit: In the ongoing festival season in particular, Covid-appropriate behaviour has been seemingly forgotten


‘‘The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance,” said the 18th century Irish orator and wit John Philpott Curran, a quote which has been more widely and erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and its third President. Regardless of who said it, the quote underlines a crucial principle – that all victories are only temporary unless one is vigilant to prevent the recurrence of the factors which led to the loss of liberty in the first place. Paraphrase liberty to safety and we have the guiding principle for humankind’s battle against threats to its existence.

As the battle against the coronavirus has shown, it is dangerous to declare victory prematurely against an enemy which is constantly altering and changing to reappear in newer and more virulent forms. India learnt this lesson painfully and at great cost to human lives and suffering, by prematurely declaring victory in the war against Covid and then being caught unprepared by the deadly first and second waves taking a toll of lakhs of lives and destroying families, lives and livelihoods of millions more. One would have thought that a lesson like this, learnt at such a great cost, would have remained etched in the collective consciousness.

Unfortunately, it appears that it has not. In the case of Covid, the ongoing festival season in particular, has seen the public emerge as of old, most thoughts of Covid-appropriate behaviour and protocols seemingly forgotten. Those entrusted with ensuring compliance with such regulations and restrictions, too, appear to have forgotten about the deadly counterpunches that the virus had landed scant months ago.

Nothing illustrates this better than the Thane Municipal Corporation’s recent decision to stop paying the salaries of those civic employees who have failed to take at least one dose of the Covid vaccine till date. In fact, the order, issued late on Monday night, also states that those employees who have taken one dose of the vaccine but have failed to take the second dose within the stipulated period – India already has the world’s longest interval between two doses for the vaccine – will also not be paid their salaries. The civic body has made it compulsory for all civic employees to submit their vaccination certificates at their respective offices. This is perhaps the first time that any such employer has taken such a step.

The TMC must be lauded for this bold move. While some activists have already claimed that such an action is unjust, and the decision may also face legal challenges by unions, we believe that we need such strict actions to ensure that the gains accrued through India’s immense vaccination drive, which has already delivered more than one crore doses, is not frittered away by the irresponsible actions of a few. We believe that actions such as wilfully risky behaviour – and refusing vaccine counts as such in our view – must be treated as an offence against public good and treated as such. Other employers – both government and non-government – could consider such a step to ensure that the country as a whole succeeds in the fight against the virus.

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Published on: Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 02:30 AM IST