FAILING TO LEAD

The worst was only to be expected. The Indian governance system is found sorely wanting in handling of the Covid19 pandemic in its second wave that is killing many due also to lack of oxygen supply in capital Delhi and elsewhere.

A “doctor” himself is at the head of the health ministry and yet no precautionary steps have been taken in respect of oxygen availability both in the capital and across states to cope with emerging situations. Industrialist Naveen Jindal is dispatching tankers to some states from his plant in Odisha, while other industrialists too are doing their best. The Centre rolled out Oxygen Express trains to states to replenish stocks and IAF planes fetched oxygen from Singapore and other locations. Yet, even a few days’ lag at this critical juncture proved to be disastrous, and more would die on this count.

Clearly, the government at the Centre took things easy and its attention got diverted from the central issue at hand, as is also evident from the way the health ministry web sites are mismanaged even at this crucial hour, with visuals of the minister and top officials occupying  much of its space.

There were clear warnings since last year at the initial stage of the Covid19 spread that the second wave of the pandemic was due to happen. China guarded its lives well; India failed. A year after the pandemic’s eruption, safety drills went haywire and politicos with their indulgences did more to spread the virus. Some 50 per cent of those being tested in Kolkata now are confirmed covid positive. Kerala, another state where election campaigns lasted nearly a month turned into a jamboree with all caution and covid protocols thrown to the winds. Both PM Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, as also wheel-chair-bound Mamata Banerjee, are tongue-tied about their own huge indulgences in the poll arena. Why such a huge show for polls in these critical times is a question begging a clear answer.

Capital Delhi is on a prolonged lockdown, Mumbai is in a similar plight for a year, Bengaluru is gasping for breath, BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are badly hit. These are also the economic nerve-centres. Short of a nation-wide lockdown, region specific restrictions are in place. Their impact on the national economy will be worse than last year’s. India, clearly, bargained for this. Most flights have stopped and India remains cut off. The railways too are down in the dumps. The nation is paying a huge price for the indulgences of those who failed to lead.

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