The pandemic sees no borders and we all know what the deadly contagion can do! The people on the LOC also needed the inoculation and thus the administration of the first shot began !
‘There is always a beginning to everything and there is always a first time for everything. Today was yet another day where one could recount a few events which happened for the first time in human lives. Here are a few that I would like to illustrate for our readers. Kadambini Ganguly was one of the first Indian female doctors who practiced with a degree in Western medicine, alongside other pioneering women such as Anandibai Joshi. Ganguly was the first woman to gain admission to Calcutta Medical College in 1884, subsequently trained in Scotland, and established a successful medical practice in India. Despite coming from an upper caste Bengali community that did not support women’s education, It was partly in recognition of her efforts that Bethune College first introduced FA (First Arts), and then graduation courses in 1883. She and Chandramukhi Basu became the first graduates from Bethune College, and in the process became the first female graduates in the country and in the entire British Empire. The readers would ask why I related to them this? The answer is simple, it is always the first step that makes the mammoth journey of thousands of miles in life so easy. Incidentally the first doses of smallpox vaccine lymph in India arrived in May 1802. Anna Dusthall, a three year old child from Bombay (now Mumbai) became the first person in India to receive smallpox vaccine on June 14, 1802. From Bombay, through human chain of vaccines, the smallpox vaccine as lymph was sent to Madras, Poona (Pune), Hyderabad and Surat. The proven benefits of smallpox vaccination had such an impact that variolation was outlawed in many European countries and also in some provinces of India as early as 1804. There were special efforts done by officials of Indian Medical Services to popularize smallpox vaccination. The uptake in the general public was low due to several reasons including need to pay a small fee for vaccination, belief in the practice of inoculation and that the disease was a wrath of goddess and many other misconceptions. A scenario that was prevalent even now. And it was for the first time on 17 July 2021 that a large-scale inoculation drive for the deadly covid-19 was done on the Line of control in districts of Rajouri and Poonch. This mega initiative was taken up by the UT health services with all the assistance by the Indian Army. Needless to say, the enthusiasm amongst the locals was great. Time and again I have told you that these people thrive in small joys of life as and when they get it. But this was a historic thing happening because never had such a big vaccination drive had ever been initiated for the people who ever since the borders came into inception’!
Lot of apprehensions began penetrating into our lives when the virus broke through humanity and began its devastating run by putting the people into the vicious web of scare and fear. On the LOC it was a double whammy since Pakistan was sending the lead and steel at will via the aerial objects in form of bombs and bullets while the invisible virus had sent the leaders, experts, researchers and scientists into a scorching spiral of uncertainty as they did not know how to checkmate the deadly pathogen that was extremely ferocious because of the monstrous way it was spreading with just one touch mode. The science was at a standstill and many of us began believing that science appears calm and triumphant only when it is completed; but science in the process of being done is only contradiction and torment, hope and disappointment. It happened and it was because there was no medicine or magic potion that could save humanity. The Coronavirus quarantine may have made many of us scream. We hoped that soon they would develop a milestone vaccine. But at that time the unknown was daunting and scary. Vaccine was the rant and all of us wanted that. Most of us were positive as we said, if we die it will be, because of our mentality or our way of thinking more than the virus itself. The idea was to be safe and thus, the question was how safe were we?
The truth at that time was even more disturbing as we were seeing people recovering from the coronavirus yet no one was sure as to how it would be in the long run. Nobody knew how the body would react after we recovered. So the safest way propagated was to avoid getting it. Stay home or move with caution. Since there was no medicine and vaccine for corona, just keeping social distance, using masks and washing your hands were the things in vogue. They still are. These had a higher rate of disease resistance than mortality. It could do no harm, even if one had a virus in the body because of the increase in energy or strong immune system. This was a message of hope and reassurance for all of us living in metros, cities, towns, villages, slums, interiors and the frontiers.
The same message was being spread here on the LOC too. It could not have been through the brain storming media blitz but by word of mouth was the credible option. And it was the Indian army that took the initiative and made people aware of the dangerous disease devouring humanity. It was a door to door effort with elaborate talking, distribution of pamphlets in local language, sanitizers, face masks and medicines with the thematic undercurrent being, ’stay indoors for your own safety’! The people did exactly that and got through the pandemic so far unscathed. It was the wait for the vaccine which finally did arrive and it was only a matter of time now when the people would be getting the necessary doses to develop the immunity. People were uncertain about its credentials and safety but the unanimous verdict was that it is safe and you can’t get safer than safe.
I. These were things that the Army told the people when the virus splattered the crisis:
People were in delusions not knowing what to do next. It may sound extremely dark and absurd, but nobody really knew what they’re doing. Some are just good at taking the right guesses, at least most of the time. Each day the world was getting crazier. It was an achievement of sorts to pass a day with no arguments. It was almost impossible to stay sane those days. But the people had to keep their wits about and it is here the men in Olive Greens made the difference. In fact a very big one. This is what they told the people:
Please don’t give away, don’t get tired & definitely don’t succumb, keep breathing deeply, fight, do what you should and can, take care of yourself and direct all your attention to being safe.
In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path: the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.
We are all in this mess together and we will emerge victorious. It is an uphill battle but it can be won and it would be.
What is required now is a huge positive energy to fight against the negative forces. Positive energy we need for the welfare of humanity.
We have a chance to do something extraordinary, after we head out of this pandemic we can change the world.
Create a world of love. A world where we are kind to each other. A world where we are kind no matter what class, race, sexual orientation, what religion or lack of or what job we have.
These so-called bleak times are necessary to go through in order to get to a much, much better place.
The people listened to each and every word spoken with rapt attention and followed the dictations verbatim and so far have done extremely well and now when the vaccine has arrived they were more than enthusiastic to get their share pumped into their their left arms as the Army ensured covid-19 vaccination for villagers on LoC in Poonch and Rajouri Every possible assistance was provided to the health care workers as they went in for the inoculation drive. There were no inhibitions as everything happened in a smooth and disciplined manner. This is how the whole thing went:
The idea was that no one should be left out of the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
The Indian Army is collaborating with the Union Territory administration to vaccinate people living in far-flung areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
They came very close to the Line of Control to inoculate those who cannot come to the towns to get the same done. The area is hilly and the terrain is difficult, therefore the health care came here to vaccinate all, especially those who are aged and disabled, and could not come to the vaccination centers.
It was the result of those efforts taken for more than 17 months of spreading awareness (pep talk) that the people had come to know about the vaccine in the areas which are far flung.
The response from the people was great. Lauding the initiative, the villagers expressed gratitude to the Army and the Jammu and Kashmir government for the drive. `We are very thankful to them for coming with a medical team to vaccinate the old and young people of our village. Most of us received our first vaccine shot today.’ Was what everyone said in unanimity.
Remember I told you that little joys make these people feel elated. This drive surely did. The men in camouflages and the health care workers in their protective attires made it a point to tell the villagers at the end of it all, please remember this, you are not on your own and unaccompanied in this, you have your family that is us and of him (God) everywhere always. So stay healthy, protected and hopeful and more importantly positive!