Finally tagged as frontline warriors
Information during pandemic
It is heartening to note that Chief Minister N Biren Singh has deemed it fit to include journalists in the list of frontline warriors even as the State is grappling with the rising number of Covid cases as well as deaths. The Chief Minister qualified this stand with the announcement that journalist would be vaccinated on priority and this is indeed a welcome move. However the Chief Minister fell short of stating that assistance would be provided to journalists if anyone of them fall prey to the dreaded virus while discharging their duty. Or can it be taken that this assistance will rank along with the other frontline warriors ? No definite answer as yet and it is also equally important to note that Manipur is not the first State to announce this with as many as nine States having already done the same, notably Orissa, West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka to name a few. And it not without reason. It stands that journalists were not initially included in the list of frontline warriors in the fight against the virus which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives across the country, but it would do good for all to remember that over 100 journalists have fallen prey to the virus or if one sticks to the statistics of the Institute of Perception Studies, it is 139. Significantly out of this, 81 journalists lost their lives in a span of one month, that is from April 1 to May 1, 2021. A chilling reminder of how fast the virus has spread and taken its toll from amongst those who are engaged in the job of collecting and disseminating information to the public. And information is the most effective tool at this time of the global pandemic with the virus mutating at will. The announcement of the Chief Minister could not have come at a more opportune moment with the State breaking previous highs in the number of infections as well as in the number of deaths ! And this is becoming routine in the sense that the figure of ‘highest so far’ barely lasts 24 hours !
Manipur fortunately has not yet seen any death due to Covid from amongst the journalistic fraternity but given the fact that the virus has already claimed over 400 lives so far, the stress on the italicised word yet should be understood in its correct perspectives. Containment zone, that is what Greater Imphal and the areas under the Imphal Municipal Council are currently under, and while this means everyone should stay indoors, journalists can move around in the discharge of their duties. This should not be taken to mean that this is a privilege but should on the other hand define the type of work of the journalists. This is what should be appreciated and the Government at Imphal has done just that in announcing that journalists would now be recognised as frontline warriors in the fight against the dreaded virus. Information, this is what journalists ensure to everyone and timely information to the public would just be what the doctor recommended in the fight against the virus. Again it is from the information that journalists transmit to the public that people get to know the different steps taken up by the Government to take the fight to the virus. Keeping oneself informed and following the SOPs laid down by the Government and yes getting vaccinated are the mantras to defeat the virus and journalists here play a vital role which seems to have been recognised by the Government.