Synchronized Centre-state effort is crucial requirement as of now.
Opinion | Sanjeet Nigodia
While coming down to the end of 3rd phase of Coronavirus induced national lockdown in the entire country, the matter of concern shifts to the decision making capability of authorities whether they have certain measures to be followed with strong lookout or will they just flow with ad hoc decisions like they did previously?
The query of every single head must be that are we really in safe hands or everything is just going with the flow as the situation seems turning tougher day by day? Emotions and grand political statements may normally distract and attract voters but in a crisis like Covid-19 pandemic, they are poor substitutes for governance.
We have witnessed the recent figures in ongoing lockdown 3.0 which reflects the doubling trend day by day resulting into recorded 25000 new positive cases in a week along with the highest single day spike on 10th of May with around 4300 positive cases and 198 deaths in a day. These figures demands the outlined plans and policies to be followed by the government post lockdown 3.0 which government actually refused to share in the previous case scenarios and withhold the same till the last hours of its implementations. This was a grave failure resulting into inability to protect the most vulnerable sections such as migrant labourers and workers leaving them to die due to hunger or road side accidents on their way back to town walking without any conveyance allowed or provided to them. This calls for the early plans without further delay or leave it all to further consequences.
People of India are meant to be the shareholders of the country as they all put in their stake in the welfare of state via tax they pay be it direct or indirect. They are also entitled to know the strategy of the power in advance atleast in these hard times to prepare themselves for the upcoming steps from the government. Otherwise, it results in, as we witnessed the ruckus created due to the decision of entire lockdown of the country with just four hours prior notice.
Modi outsourced moral responsibility
The government’s current struggle to achieve the balance is a consequence of previous blunders, which began with a four-hour notice for a national lockdown, stranding migrant workers nationwide without jobs, money and eventually food. Despite claims made to the Supreme Court that a couple of million workers were being cared for, Modi outsourced moral responsibility, asking India’s people to “look after” those in need.
In the absence of jobs, food and transport services, thousands of weary migrant workers, who once powered India’s economy, continue epic journeys home on cycle or on foot, over hundreds, even 1000 kms or more. Some drop dead of exhaustion or illness, either on the way or, tragically, after reaching home. One group was mowed down while sleeping on rail tracks they thought was empty of trains.
No trains or buses were organised for workers who wanted to return home but either could not or were not allowed to. The first trains started running after 40 days of pointless inaction, during which time workers in crowded accommodation risked infection, which they might carry to relatively unscathed rural India – up to 80% of positive cases are from urban areas. In Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party government cancelled the trains, after real-estate companies complained there would be no workers, just when construction was about to restart. After a storm of criticism, the decision was rescinded.
Style over substance has been the trend of current ruling party whether it be banging thalis, lighting of candles to switching on the phone flash lights. A virus may not provide advance notice before striking. In this case, India did get early warning but did not do enough. Despite warnings from its top medical research body that a lockdown alone would, at best, reduce peak infections on a given ay by 40%, Modi’s government ignored for a month all the advice from the Indian Council of Medical Research to urgently launch other interventions. It included door-to-door supplies of food and other essentials to the poor; district-wise infection monitoring; “fast reporting” to identify and quarantine infective clusters; mass quarantines for those in densely populated areas; and a rapid increase in hospital beds and intensive-care unit.
Unemployment has risen to record levels
Many companies, including those run by the government, stated that they cannot or will not obey government orders to pay workers during the lockdown. Unemployment has risen to record levels. Modi has even urged employers “to be kind”, but his government has done nothing – as many countries have – to reimburse or in some way assist companies in keeping employees paid, even if partially. Nothing has been heard from a special economic task force since Modi announced it on March 19. There was silence, too, on an economic stimulus package, except from the government’s chief economic advisor who said this week that “there is no free lunch”.
It would be unfair on the Modi government’s part to consider suggestions and views by CMs of states not ruled by the BJP as criticism of its noteworthy efforts in the fight against the pandemic. The task at hand is onerous. A combined effort is a most important call in national interest and of paramount importance. Under pressure and not wanting to be seen as unsympathetic, states have been depending on self-devised protocols to manage the return of migrants and those stuck in other states. If the Punjab CM, asserts that those heading governments in states know better about what is happening in their areas, choosing to ignore what is being said would amount to poor judgement. The message is simple: we need each other and the battle asks of us to be in it together.
World’s toughest Lockdown, hasn’t flattened the curve,
India’s 53-days lockdown, extended in varying measures, was among the world’s toughest, it hasn’t flattened the curve, contrary to government claims, one of which said there would be no new cases by May 16. “What we are seeing is that the cases are increasing at a linear pace,” the director of India’s premier medical institution, Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS), Dr. Randeep Guleria told this week that “The major problem right now is that we are not seeing a declining trend [as in Italy or China].”
Meanwhile, Modi’s government is pushing ahead with a grandiose Rs 20,000-crore project to build a new parliament building and redesign New Delhi’s Central Vista (instead, the Rajya Sabha announced spending cuts – of Rs 80 crore). In easier times, emotion and grand political statements may distract voters and pay handsome electoral dividends. In a crisis, they are noticeably poor substitutes for governance, subject as they are to diminishing returns and administrative anarchy.
This is not the time to act foolish
It is really high time for government to figure out the priorities. This is not the right time to have a blame game but just to keep things into notice that rather taking actions regarding fight against pandemic, everyone at power were busy taking Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan to the hot seat of State of Madhya Pradesh. Finally, they have reached to the goal too but by then it was too late and Pandemic had already established its foots in the country enormously. There are several foolish calls by centre in these hard times to have a blame game but as stated this is not the time to act foolish. Instead center is required to set their priorities and take actions consequently keeping Republic of India at first then their party seekings.
Results have proven that the lockdown was merely stolen tempting during which the government should have increased the testing capacity and improved health infrastructure. None of which actually happened. All and all, what can be easily extrapolated that the government is seemingly clueless to figure out what is happening and what will happen. This is to urge “Saheb” to take proactive steps and announce the post lockdown plan soon to deal with the inevitable consequences in current scenario without further delay.