Dhaka’s overcrowded reality and Covid 19 is a bit of mismatch!
The denial of the gravity of the situation from the health officials and pseudo experts is most obnoxious in Bangladesh. What is wrong if we remain alert? Why are they so fearful? Why a flowery picture has to be painted all the time? What compulsion leads to this? Are they not watching how people are preparing in other parts of the world?
ছোট হয়ে এসেছে পৃথিবী, বিমানে ভ্রমণ করেছেন কি?
I feel at these trying times, conventional media is more useful. Of course, those who have the know-how of English are better off with more options. I have been watching the conventional media more often than other times! There is clearly a concerted effort by the world media to cater to the needs of their distressed audiences. They are running special programs on the pandemic, and also how to take adequate measures to stay safe etc. These channels are more concerned about ethics and are acting responsibly. While you cannot totally get out of the “wired reality” of social media at this point, I think it is high time we also start thinking about the pros and cons of social media in our day to day life. For the time being though, the guideline is, don’t get hooked up with it 24/ 7. Get some fresh air! Walk for your health. Call people on whom you rely all the time. Redefine how you live!
We don’t worry much when people die in a road crash (locally known as accidents) in this country. We also remain indifferent to news of disappeared people! But then why worry for COVID 19? Is it because the virus is a bit too random? (Of course that is not the case. This virus initially dubbed an equalizer turned out to be a racist one! It is more severe to people who have underlined health conditions and some reports suggest that Black and Asians are the first in its list of casualty! Eh.. I am just joking. The virus is not racist, we are!).
My thoughts are focused on Bangladesh. There is not much public anger when so called accidents happen in this or that locality far away from us. TV scrolls reduce all these events into numbers (11 dead in Manikjganj for example! No one writes 11 dead due to faulty road or negligence of the driver!). Much of these deaths could have been avoided. A lot of the deaths in our garments sector could have been avoided, had there been strong regulation on the part of government. Yes, government! But till to date, this not the case.
The pandemic exposed the government’s unpreparedness. Of course, this is not the right time to criticize and I am aware of the rally ‘round the flag’ effect that the government may be enjoying for the moment. Lately, it has taken some steps too. But its initial response, if we remember, was one of denial. Now the government is reacting to the situation. It could have been more proactive.
The reach of testing facility has been increased. But I clearly remember people on TV chat shows giving an impression that testing required very high skills and equipment and hence cannot be expanded in short time. Wondering what education gives us the courage to spread such misinformation!
It’s now clear that within the administration, there were people who wanted to keep the testing facilities very limited. While it’s true that all over the world, governments fighting the virus are finding it hard to meet the demand of testing but nowhere had we heard this logic that if expanded and given to untrained people, it will do more harm than good! Here what needed to be told, frankly, was that we will need to train people rapidly in order to expand the reach of testing. Folks, think hard before you talk on TV!
At the end of the day you say what you want to say. Image doesn’t matter! Thinking about the politics of image and its varied effects!
যে আলাপ হবার কথা কোভিড ১৯ বিষয়ক টেকনিক্যাল কমিটির টেবিলে, সেই প্রয়োজনীয় টেকনিক্যাল আলাপ যখন শুনি টিভির চ্যাট শোতে, তখন স্বাস্থ্য মন্ত্রণালয় সহ কোভিড ব্যবস্থাপনার সাথে যুক্ত রাষ্ট্রের অন্যান্য সংস্থাগুলোর মধ্যে বিরাজমান অপরিকল্পনা ও সমন্বয়হীনতা যেন আরো স্পষ্ট হয়ে পড়ে। এসব আলাপ যেন সমন্বয়হীনতারই আলামত!
Mahmudul Sumon teaches anthropology at JU.