Tough times require tough responses. And surely what you are currently going through is possibly the toughest the city has ever experienced. You, of course, are a tough nut to crack and you have proved it time and again during different natural calamities and I am certain you can do it again this time.
But, unlike the cyclones and the heatwaves, the coronavirus pandemic poses a very different and a Herculean challenge; something unprecedented not only for you but also for the whole world. Relief and rehabilitation packages like the ones given in the aftermath of natural disasters would not help much. What COVID-19 virus requires your citizens, or for that matter the entire humankind, to do is something perhaps no one knows. At this point in time, when Odisha has confirmed 39 corona positive cases, including 31 in the capital city, all that your denizens can do is demonstrate exemplary resolve, exercise utmost restraint and display its characteristic resilience.
Home to a million plus people, including the well-heeled living in the poshest of residential areas, you are being described as a smart city. At the same time, you should not forget about the lakhs residing in the clumsiest and dirtiest of slums, where social distancing could be an oxymoron. But each life is precious and each human being is a potential vector of the deadly virus. In such a scary scenario, a ‘wrong touch’ or a ‘wrong move’ can spell doom.
The corona cases, going by lessons learnt in other parts of the world, can grow exponentially. We can only hope and pray that it does not happen to you. The trend, thus far, has been very disturbing to say the least. And, if things take a turn for the worse, it could be anyone’s guess as to where you will end up. So, take no chances. This is high time you leave no stone unturned to show your grit and gumption, to prove to the world that as a city blended in tradition and modernity you are willing do whatever it takes to beat COVID-19.
This is not the time to find faults, blame groups or stigmatise patients. A rumour can cause havoc. A handful of mischief mongers can create hara-kiri. A few insouciant individuals, who love to live in
denial, can turn into super-spreaders. So, watch out. Be on the vigil. Round the clock.
We all know what the administration is capable of and what it is not. And this is not a battle that the government apparatus alone can fight effectively. It is time for each of your citizen to contribute his mite, adhere to the instructions and remain strict and disciplined. If badly-hit Wuhan can recover, so can you, Bhubaneswar. It’s really time to go beyond lip-service and for each individual to swear by the ‘I LOVE BHUBANESWAR’ signboard at Master Canteen Square. And, as someone who has spent over four decades in this city, I am confident your inhabitants will stand by you through thick and thin to tide over this crisis. And, prove to themselves as well as to the rest of the globe, that, as a mixed metaphor would go, when the going gets tough, the tough stay indoors.