After a spate of ineffectual curfews in the past, the state now has another. The rationale given is that the death and positivity rates are frighteningly high, necessitating yet another curfew. What’s more interesting is that we’ll have a stricter one this time. However, it is necessary to ask, “What makes the state believe that a stricter one is required this time?” Why didn’t they consider enforcing a stricter one when the death rate and daily Covid-19 positivity rates were similar, if not identical, to what they are now?
Another question that everyone has is how can these 10-day curfews break the viral transmission chain if the 77-day curfew couldn’t? Will this ten-day curfew be a million times thicker and denser than the one that was previously enforced? Was this what the state had in mind when they said a stricter curfew? Or is it just another lip service that will necessitate an even harsher curfew after this one comes to an end?
Many heated debates ensued following the declaration of the curfew, centered on the questions raised above. With the exception of a few people who represented the state’s voice, almost everyone who took part in the debate, including medical experts, public intellectuals, and radical journalists, was critical of the curfew from various angles. However, their debate focused on whether or not the curfew could break the transmission chain, whereas mine is slightly different in perspective from theirs, though not entirely new.
‘Are we Kangleichas as a people disciplined enough to defeat this value-free virus?’ is my first question. In this article, I’ll look at the question of ‘why can’t we defeat the virus?’ by linking it to our collective social morality. This may appear to be insignificant on the surface, but morality is quite important in dealing with pressing social concerns. To be more specific, whether or not people’s social actions are on the right track will be determined by their collective morality.
It’s worth mentioning the Deontological moral theory at this point. According to this theory, whether or not our actions are right or wrong is determined by whether or not we carry out our responsibilities. It thus emphasizes the importance of focusing on moral convictions as well as understanding the consequences of our actions when doing something. Conscientious people will never fail to recognize this and carry out their moral responsibilities, even if it is against their best interests.
Now it’s evident that motivation, or what drives you to do anything, is critical in determining whether your activity is good or bad. This notion appears to be inextricably linked to a couple of our scholars’ perspectives on the need for the government to be accountable and truthful in its acts, as articulated in various public forums. From a moral sense, the state must also justify why curfew is necessary in the first place. Is it really to flatten the covid-19 curve, or is it to argue that people’s irresponsible actions generate the recent spike in positivity and death rate, masking their irresponsible actions?
“Please stay at home for 10 days, food grains will be provided at home if necessary,” Manipur’s Chief Minister said a few days before the ten-day curfew was imposed. The appeal makes it crystal obvious why the curfew was imposed in the first place. If you read between the lines of the statement, you will know that he’s saying that we weren’t able to combat the virus because our people didn’t stay at home during curfews.
Before he says so, he should recall what happened during the bye election, when the restrictions they set were blatantly breached by themselves. It should also be remembered that the airport in Imphal was entirely full when Nitin Gadkari visited Manipur. When BJP national president ST Morcha visited recently, the crowd was no smaller, and the rule of physical distance was grossly ignored. What message did these members of the ruling class hope to send to the masses by behaving so? Is it still within their moral authority to order people to stay at home during the curfew?
When making a political or social decision, it is critical to ground one’s actions on moral judgment. “Curfew should be the same for everyone,” a journalist said repeatedly during a TV debate, I recall. This remark alludes to Kant’s categorical imperative. We use the term categorical imperative to refer to a moral command that must be obeyed without exception. In other words, it’s a form of moral responsibility that requires one to follow even if not doing so would be beneficial to one’s interests.
So, you must not do anything that you would not want others to do. This is one of the many ways how categorical imperatives, which must underpin morality, work. If “one must not break the law” is your guiding philosophy, you must understand that the law also applies to you too. This is where you must remind yourself that your duty is governed by this categorical imperative, which is a mandate or order that you must obey even if refusing it benefits you. Otherwise, you will be regarded as a morally bankrupt individual.
Now, we’ve almost figured out why we can’t fight Covid-19 while keeping other things constant for the time being, based on the preceding points. Now, it is arguable whether Kangleicha is ethically upright enough to fight such a deadly virus.
As previously stated, we have discovered a multitude of evidence of lawmakers acting in their own self-interest violating Covid-19-related regulations on a regular basis. The issuance of SOPs is simply a technique for them to demonstrate that they can issue orders. However, by violating it, they have once again exhibited their moral apathy. They are such a miserable bunch that thinks these SOPs only apply to the people and not to them.
Our people are just as irresponsible as our government when it comes to breaking the law to pursue their own interests, regardless of whether their acts will harm society. During Covid-19, everyone has a responsibility, and as good citizens, we must obey any law that serves the wider society’s best interests. Unfortunately, there are few ethically upright people in our society. It is not morally correct to engage in Covid 19-inappropriate activity just because some powerful people disregard Covid-19 norms.
While our political leaders do not hesitate to receive leaders from Delhi, resulting in large crowds, our citizens are breaking the norms of physical distancing by eating out together, throwing parties, playing cards, and other activities that are all against SOPs.
The moral rule “One must not lie to others” is also a categorical imperative that all people must follow, but our government openly lies to its own people. When medical experts argue that more Covid ICU beds are needed because many people have died due to a lack of ICU care, the government claims that there are enough ICU rooms to accommodate critical Covid-19 patients. However, the truth is that the JNIMS and RIMS hospitals only have 52 ICU rooms, making it impossible to accommodate the significant number of Covid-19 patients that require ICUs. Many cases demonstrate that we do not have adequate ICU facilities, since many patients have died while waiting to be admitted to an ICU room, despite their doctors’ recommendations to do so.
Citizens are blaming government mismanagement and insincerity for the high death rate and positive cases in the state, as evidenced by daily conversations. At the same time, the government is attempting to prove that it is due to people’s irresponsibility that we have been unable to defeat the virus for so long. Based on these two facts and the analysis I have provided here, we may conclude that we won’t be able to defeat the virus because we have a morally corrupt population ruled by a morally bankrupt government. A morally handicapped people led by a morally handicapped state would be affected by such pandemic on a large scale, as has been observed in my state.
Finally, I believe that good rulers and citizens always perform their duties since it is their responsibility. Even if they don’t like it, they all have to do their duty. The basic argument is that you must be good, for goodness sake, in order to be a good ruler or a good citizen. As a result, I am urging all Kanglei people to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines; let us make the 10-day curfew a meaningful one, unlike in the past. Only a government led by morally responsible leaders ruling over morally responsible people can overcome Covid-19 in the shortest possible time. If we do not realize this, the second wave will immediately lead to a terrifying third wave with no time between.