Discipline and the fear of COVID-19 pandemic

The casual attitude of some of the inmates indicates that they had willfully defied the set rules and norms of a quarantine centre or the volunteers have totally failed to train the inmates to obey rules or codes of behavior to be followed and observed.

The theory and practice of discipline invariably entails training people to obey rules or a code of behavior. Discipline also at times necessarily involves using punishment to correct disobedience. A disciplined group of people usually possess controlled behaviour resulting from some form of training. When one talks about discipline, it implies that there is a set of norms and a system of rules of conduct. Depending on the spatial and temporal contingencies, a person who is not disciplined is generally rebuked formally and informally for an offence. Those who adhere to the set rules are termed as disciplined who possess the trait of being well behaved.

It is under such understanding that Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh had recently stated that lack of discipline and willful defiance of guidelines inside quarantine centres are mainly responsible for the sharp rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Manipur. The chief minister was speaking at the inspection tour of COVID-19 Care Centre being opened at UNACCO school, Meitram, Imphal West which began functioning from June 12.

N Biren’s comment came close on the heels of six inmates from S Kula Womens’ College quarantine centre, Nambol who were involved in a fracas with volunteers, were sent to jail along with two others from other centres. They were apparently incarcerated for violating COVID-19 related protocols and guidelines set by the government. The chief minister also warned that mischievous inmates who violated protocols and guidelines will be put behind bars. Whether or not the warning by N Biren has indeed translated into action or similar acts of indiscipline committed by the inmates of other designated quarantine centres have been seriously taken note of are yet to be closely monitored.

The clamp down on unruly and undisciplined inmates have been actually triggered by reported incidents of some inmates who had possibly contracted the dreaded coronavirus from those who already had it before they were admitted to the centres. In the entire episode, what one needs to ask is whether or not those who violated the protocols and guidelines were indeed briefed about the guidelines to be strictly followed. The casual attitude of some of the inmates indicates that they had willfully defied the set rules and norms of a quarantine centre or the volunteers have totally failed to train the inmates to obey rules or codes of behavior to be followed and observed. Or were these so called violators of the guidelines not at all aware of existing stringent rules being applied in quarantine centres? If they had been properly trained to obey rules, why would the chief minister go on lauding the role of MLAs, civil voluntary organisations and student bodies who have been actively involved in imparting awareness to the inmates of quarantine centres. If these organisations were truly disciplining the inmates by way of spreading awareness, it is more than obvious that there would not have been any incidents like bringing in intoxicants inside the quarantine centres and exhibiting unruly behavior. All these at a time when members of the community at large have been struck with the fear of the pandemic and community spread of the virus. Or was it just a case of total failure of the assigned authorities to impose strict compliance under all COVID-19 related lockdown rules. One can only wait and see how the inmates behave in the days to come as Manipur sees increasing number of coronavirus positive cases.

 

First Published:June 16, 2020, 12:22 a.m.