Rebuild social bonds & emotional links by replacing Mantra of ‘Social Distancing’ with ‘Physical Distancing’


Daya Sagar

The fears of the spread of Coronavirus through air and there being no ‘nominated’ treatment available has made many to live in the subconscious mind that in case he / she becomes a victim there will be no one from friends or relations who would come to attend during hospitalisation. The fear of ‘aloneness’ that has grown due to people practicing near a total “Social Distancing” has made people in secure and weak. I had sensed the damage that the term “Social Distancing” could do and had in March 2020 suggested that instead of “Social Distancing” we should use & promote the term “Physical Distancing” so that people do not distance emotionally. It was on this 13th May that a friend told me that son of his family ‘friend’ so painfully told him that he was alone running for arranging materials requisitioned by doctors for his father who was lying alone in a COVID ward in a Jammu COVID Hospital struggling to save his last breath. Surely it was more the fear of the “unknown” COVID ghost due to which the friends and relations were distancing. The pressure is not only on the patients / attendants ,it is also on the nursing staff who too are under stresses and some attendants may be finding them ‘indifferent’ which they may not be.
In March 2020 Western world had aired a prime Mantra for prevention from the COVID-19 Corona virus as “Social Distancing”, Indian leadership too had caught hold of that. COVID-19 was an unknown “vulture” with no known treatment to treat and vaccination to prevent. So Ek Gaj Ki Doori (3 ft – 4 ft distance ) as “Social Distancing” and wearing a mask were the most talked about preventions that were the best that could be them promoted. In May 2021 it is now 15 months since then, no doubt some vaccines in small numbers have entered the market , but still there is no pointed treatment nominated so “Social Distancing” is still being promoted as prime prevention and the slogan of 3-4 ft Ki Doori has stretched to 2 Gaj Ki Doori (6 ft distance).
And 2nd Corona-wave has taken to a monstrous pandemic in India since April 2021.
Government has been pooling all possible resources for providing preventive health cover as well as nursing/treatment to the affected people but the numbers of the infected people has been so spontaneous and large that any regular largest possible infrastructure may not be enough to handle that.
No doubt there have been short comings in planning, erecting the infrastructure, handling the men & materials, setting priorities and use of financial resources placed at the disposal of the executive.
Going by the size of the “unknown” Corona ‘monster’ it could be said that on date common man is living under both psychological & emotional stresses in addition to the fears of catching the ‘disease’.
So one who falls a victim has much reduced immune system to self generate antibodies due to psychological/emotional stresses since ‘one’ has been “unknowingly” living only for one’s own self over last one year.
So, we have to live with the resources we have and make ourself/our system to deliver with more, vigour, efficiency and commitment. The social bonds and emotional support if are noticed / felt by a patient or a fearing person that is half the medicine to strengthen one’s immune system and ofcourse that would also support the hard efforts that the nursing staff & Doctors ( particularly in government hospitals ) may be putting risking their own safety too.
The ” 2 Gaj Ki Doori and use of Mask” are still being prescribed as the best protection from likely infection and hence why not rebuild social bonds linking emotions again and replace the Mantra of “Social Distancing by the Mantra of Physical Distancing”? Let us start rebuilding the bonds. Ofcourse during lockdowns/ curfews also still welfare could be exchanged to make one feel with.
(Daya Sagar, is a senior journalist and social activist)