Perhaps a media blitzkrieg is needed
IFP Editorial: Even the ruling party BJP could put to good use its social media trolls and master blasters in infusing a sense of purpose and direction in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in a positive way.
The detection of as many as 205 cases of Delta Variant of COVID-19 in the state, even as the state continues to witness an increase in daily COVID-19 cases and deaths due to coronavirus disease, is a matter of great concern. On Sunday, Manipur saw another record high of 911 new COVID-19 positive cases, while 14 more persons died due to the disease, pushing the state's COVID-19 positive caseload and death toll to 77,731 and 1,272 respectively. A total of 6,320 test results were received on Sunday, of which 911 were found positive for COVID-19. The cumulative number of test results received so far is 9,55,967. On Monday, the number of positive figures came down slightly to 890 with 15 deaths. As usual, the figures of Imphal West district keeps shooting up. Maybe because, it is a district with the highest population density. Churachandpur district also continue to register high count of positives, while Tamenglong is picking up. Of the new COVID-19 cases on Monday, 347 were from Imphal West, 153 from Imphal East, 69 from Bishnupur, 74 from Thoubal, 83 from Churachandpur, 37 from Kakching, 17 from Kangpokpi, five from Chandel, two from Ukhrul, 59 from Tamenglong, 13 from Senapati, nil from Pherzawl, five from Tengnoupal and four from Jiribam.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had the other day confessed that the state is at a loss on how to change the mindset of the general public towards testing and vaccination, even as the state government is taking up various strategies to fight COVID-19. The Central government had to send its team of experts recently to assess the situation in the state.
Somehow the Centre must have sensed a lack of purpose and direction in the strategy adopted by the state. Well, as the state changed tack in the vaccination drive, it has picked up and daily number of vaccination has quadrupled from around 5,000 to 20,000 plus in the past few days, even going up to 30,000 plus. The state has now given the responsibility of ensuring vaccination of all eligible persons to the MLAs in their respective constituencies and peoples’ representatives of all hues down to the grassroots level are getting involved in encouraging people to get themselves vaccinated. The chief minister has announced a cash award of Rs 20 lakh for the first assembly constituency to be fully vaccinated. Not only that, the state machinery is engaging with religious leaders of all faiths to come join in clearing up the misgivings and preach vaccination.
What seems to be missing is the part of wide-ranging consultation with various stakeholders as was the norm earlier. We have not heard of any meeting of the State level Consultative Committee on Covid-19 in the last few months. Meanwhile, as they were not taken into confidence on the various strategies rolled out by the government the opposition is all out finding faults at every step of the way. On the other hand, the state continue to come down heavily on detractors and mischievous rumour mongers. We would like to reiterate once again that the matter cannot be resolved by arresting them or putting them in jail and for that matter putting undue pressure on media freedom. The confusion of the state is perhaps the cause of such unwarranted actions. We must say, we cannot afford to have a confused state at this juncture. What is urgently required now is a media blitzkrieg on positive aspects of getting tested and vaccination, instead of negative knee-jerk reactions. The recent unveiling of a Shumang Leela based on the virtues of testing and vaccination is a good and positive approach. We expect more such initiative. That is exactly why we have a Directorate of Information and Public Relations DIPR. The directorate should be investing in such initiatives more instead of always playing His Masters Voice. Besides the mainstream media, there are so many social media platforms now. Even the ruling party BJP could put to good use its social media trolls and master blasters in infusing a sense of purpose and direction in the fight against the pandemic in a positive way.