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The law abiding citizen

It was somewhere in December when most of us were settling in for the winter holiday season that we started to hear about a virus spreading in some part of China. By January 2020, Indian media had locked in on the virus and soon Covid-19 rose to the headlines. At the time of writing this, there are over 6 lakh infected worldwide and over 1000 detected in India. The numbers are climbing alarmingly.
India reported its first case of Covid-19 in January among returnees from the epicenter of the outbreak. The cases recovered and we were happy that the virus had been put in check with no new case in India for almost a month, while each day, the contagion reached new shores across the world. By the first week of March, however, our sense of vulnerability became real as new cases were detected, all with a recent history of overseas travel. The counter started ticking faster each day, as compounding started to play.
The government of India started with advisories and restrictions on people traveling from the epicenter of the outbreak from January 17. People arriving from countries with reported cases of the outbreak were being screened and quarantined if needed. This is when some cases were reported in the media which caught my attention.
There were instances of people being uncooperative during the screening and not disclosing their travel details accurately beyond ports of entry and exit. Positively tested cases or their co-traveling family members were reported of not only violating self-quarantine but recklessly absconding by train to their native places, jeopardizing the entire containment effort. What were they thinking? For sure, these people understood what was asked of them and why. As well as the impact of non-compliance. They didn’t belong to the cross-section of the demography which was impervious to facts of the contagion.
While the State pushed for social distancing, even its representatives and other public figures were blatantly flouting the prescription.
How can we explain such apparently nonchalant behavior? This is an important question. If we can better understand the mechanics of behavior, we will be wiser for the days ahead.
Knowing what is right doesn’t mean much unless you do what is right – Theodore Roosevelt.