TODAY -

Hawkers are also frontline workers

Free Thinker *



Yes, we do agree that journos are frontline workers. Particularly in our State they are always in the frontline and quite often beaten by both the lawed & outlawed. In addition, they are now under tremendous threat from the virus which is playing havoc everywhere.

Its infection jumps from 300 to 600 in a day. Press people particularly the reporters are highly vulnerable these days because they move from one place to another for covering or covering-up the incidents or events.

We are a tiny State with a microscopic media . A few months back nobody wanted to be vaccinated. Everyone thought that the virus can be fought either by local brew or by Ė own immune system backed by fermented fish, beans and bamboo shoots. Moreover, they were not confident in the vaccines which are developed within a year. But these days we donít know what has happened everyone wants to be inoculated.

Media is considered as a pillar of democracy. When they are lured, pampered or threatened they tend to merge with one of the stronger pillars for their own survival. That is not good for liberal democracy. They are supposed to be the watchdog. They must bark to the thieves, rovers, murderers, criminals, corrupts, manipulators, wrong-doers etc.

If they are curved, gagged, or threatened they wonít be able to perform their duties fearlessly, truthfully and meaningfully. So whoever may be in power, the media should be left free? Even the rebels or insurgents must respect the freedom of the press. Undue pressure should not be put on them. To vaccinate them first is a good move as they are important warriors of democracy.

For the last few days, I am in dilemma, whether hawkers should be treated as frontline workers or not. Whether vaccination priority ought to be given to them as well. Broadly hawkers are those who sell things travelling here and there or moving from one place to another. They are also called street vendors, peddlers or costermongers. They sell their things while roaming around here and there.

Here I want to make a distinction between the general hawkers and newspaper hawkers. Newspaper hawkers are part and parcel of the fourth estate.

These daysí people want vaccination as early as possible. Perhaps they are convinced that vaccination can save their lives. I donít know whether it is true or not that doctors all over the world who had already completed the vaccination have survived even though they are re-infected by the virus. Doctors/Nurses/health workers in various hospitals in Delhi could survive the second wave. There are very few casualties.

Consequently, everyone is almost convinced that vaccination can really save lives. There are negligible instances of vaccine fatalities; but they are overwhelmed by the benefits. Whether it is Covishield or Covaxin or Sputnik V Ė all the vaccines are doing well. There may be some disturbing reports here and there and we should ignore them.

We must remember one thing that multinational rivalries and vaccine diplomacies are in play. As common people, we need to be vaccinated for safety and survival. Somehow we must get the vaccines. We may even try Chinese vaccines from Moreh. Foreigners working in China are of the view that the Chinese vaccine is perhaps more effective because they are more familiar with the virus better than anyone else.

Some have very wired notion about this vaccine; they are of the view that Indian vaccines are to control both Corona and the population. Even my own brother is a victim of such rumours. When I insisted that he should be vaccinated along with his spouse. They want to wait because they feel that the vaccine is also about infusing infertility.

They have a valid reason because they are yet to have children. But I am too amazed that from where they got such funny ideas of family planning through Covid Vaccine. I told him, not to spread such great ideas; our scientists may pick up the idea as we are biting China demographically in a few years from now.

Actually, my parents were also reluctant to get vaccinated. They used to say that there are adverse reports from around the world - instant dead, blood clotting, strokes, allergies etc. They were giving excuses quoting their age etc .

In fact, they were not very enthusiastic about the vaccine. Then I told them the story of Dr Manmohan Singh (Former Pradhan Mantri ); Dr was fully vaccinated still he got infected by the virus and then he was treated successfully in AIIMS and now discharged alive and kicking. Perhaps they were convinced by the story. The next day they agreed to go to RIMS and they both got inoculated.

As far as newspaper hawkers are concerned I am very much in favour of their vaccination along with the press people. How many hawkers do we have? I mean newspaper hawkers, not many. Without hawkers print media is lame. Even if the newspapers are made available online the spirit of democracy still lies with the hard copies.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on May 12 2021.



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