The kind of situation this corona second wave is bringing into the country is really enigmatic and contrasting. On one side we have election rallies, Kumbh melas and the usual brouhaha and on the other side there are grieving people, queuing citizens outside medical shops and hospitals and lakhs of others in complete confusion and ‘Kimkartavayavimudha’ status, something the BBC and other international media never fails to telecast. There is still confusion over the vaccine and its efficacy. Then there is this nuisance of media and social media who all are making Coronavirus as the only news to shout from their mouth as if there is nothing else has been left to write or read about. Finally the random lockdown imposed by district and state admins is making things worse for people who are all dependent on moving public for their livelihood esp the hawkers, street eateries , and the types.
It is therefore important to be realistic and rational under such circumstances. First and foremost one has to determine the corona affected numbers and the mortality rate. With all respect we would like to claim that the corona virus situation may be alarming but there is nothing like a pandemic or “desperate’ kind of situation. Therefore with better planning there is sufficient scope to handle things in a better way so that the corona can be handled as well as the economy can run. This point we have been raising time and again.
One of the important things is the absence of central leadership in the second wave of corona fights. While the PM Narendra Modi has rightly called for the Vaccination Utsav however the kind of urgency and motivation that was seen in the first wave last year is somehow missing this time. This has allowed the social media, media and the state governments to do what they are best at, i.e create confusions in the mind of the public.
If the govt is serious about Vaccination it must make whole heartedly efforts to go for the vaccination drive. It must be able to convince the citizens that the vaccine is indeed the only solution to the pandemic at the moment. It must provide all options to any citizen to get a vaccine of his/her choice. The number of people getting vaccinated is still less and many of the citizens are not willing to take it willingly. Whatever be the reason the citizens don’t find a clear reason or justification for the vaccine to be administered. Therefore the first task of the govt should be to convince the public that a vaccine is indeed required.
Second the govt has to keep working on the date that it is receiving. IN fact the vaccination date can be used to collect some additional health data from the public and the govt can sit on some invaluable data that can be helpful in multiple ways and manners.
Third which we have been telling time and again is some uniform pattern across the country on containing Corona virus. The lockdown period has to be effective, If it is a weekend lockdown or some other form then it can be done across the country except for some very highly affected society or city. Some extra enthusiastic Chief Ministers and others have been making statements on a daily basis about lockdown that keep changing, creating more confusion in the minds of citizens. Why cant we have a proper SOP for lockdown across the country. Why the citizens have to tolerate the whims of a Thakeray or a Kejriwal or for that matter a Chauhan to contain the virus. It is making the situation more chaotic and the citizens are subjected to harassment and mental kind of situation.
There is also the question of Secondary Education which is again going for a toss. Each of the states is going its own way thus making life difficult for the millions of students. Though health and education are state matters but we think that these are extraordinary times and the central govt can exercise some of her rights to make sure that there is some kind of uniformity across the country and the students’ education system is not broken. Politicians must refrain from making cheap announcements. The MP govt has allowed or is planning to give general promotion to all students with questions given to students to write answers from home.
There are many other issues and looking at the situation it seems that the corona virus can be handled in a much better way than what it is. The central govt has to take the lead again. If it thinks the situation is indeed serious and warranted then it must take full controls in her hand. If not then it must not allow the media and state governments to exploit the artificial crisis.
We would again like the Modi govt and in particular the PM himself to take stock of the situation. The coronavirus with all its ugliness also offers the country to be better prepared and manage the disaster. It is still a learning process and the country can make a road map to handle such things in the future that can arise from wars or pandemics. During wave 1 , the country has been fortunate to control the damage and also earn international applause under PM Modi , however under wave 2 we are just losing both these credits. This is neither good for the country nor for the Government.
Dr Asheesh Shah
References: Nikkei Asia, China US Focus.com and others.