Covid: Leadership failure comes to fore

Patrick J Lobo | MAY 01, 2021, 11:55 PM IST

When the Highest Institutions are commandeered, whether it is Judiciary, Election Commission, National Medical Commission, Media etc, autonomy is lost and the institution cannot take any decisions and must wait for the upright orders from the political force. 

The know-how, expertise and the experience of working for ages go in trench and the highest officers become dummies and puppets.

Paul Davis Ryan a retired American politician once said, “We need leadership. We don’t need a doubling down of the failed politics of the past”. 

The previous regime is long gone and presently on ‘life support’. One needs to admit, the leadership failure and stop frolicking politics with the deadliest Covid-19. 

It all started in Wuhan city of China when the unnamed infection was first detected; it was named as Covid-19 and subsequently SARS-Cov-2. It was reported that the virus was natural animal origin and not a manipulated or constructed virus. If it originated from nature, Mother Nature could have taken care of it. 

The first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kerala on January 27, 2020 -- a female of 20 year who travelled from Wuhan to Kunming and to India.

On March 24, 2020 the Government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days -- when the number of positive cases was approximately 500 -- and was subsequently extended. On May 30, 2020 the restrictions were lifted and Unlock started from 1.0 to 7.0.

There were several warnings from experts regarding the second wave of Covid-19 in India and even the Opposition was murmuring about a tsunami hitting the country. It was simply ignored. 

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity which cost approximately Rs 2,989 crore of and the Manohar Parrikar’s Samadhi at Miramar which will cost more than Rs 10 crore could have given India more efficient medical infrastructure and bare minimum super specialty hospitals. 

For the first Covid-19 wave we have seen the dreadful, the sudden nationwide lockdown without any groundwork or thinking. The result was terrifying. People panicked, migrants labourers were in extreme despair, they lost their jobs. There was massive exodus of migrants -- walking and cycling with their kids thousands of kms in scorching heat to reach their native places. 

They were suffered and went through excruciating agonies and we failed them and several of them died on their way home. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA rightly predicted the surge. Also the State’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), Karnataka, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur and several other Institutions and individuals and their predictions were precisely accurate.

Everything can be stage-managed, with fanciful talks, speeches, fairy tales and gather thousands of people. But one cannot stage-manage the lethal Covid-19 and its mutations. 

When experts talk, their intelligence and wisdom speaks. Paul Samuelson who was an economist quotes, “politicians like to tell people what they want to hear -- and what they want to hear is what won’t happen.” But still millions believe it.

It is undeniably true that, politicians all too often think about the next election, instead of getting ready with clinical facilities, like beds, ICUs, ICU-ventilators, oxygen availability, vital drugs, medical human resource and other infrastructure. 

The elections were declared in several States when the fatal virus was at its peak. On the ground the leadership, the directions and guidance were missing because entire attention went on to the election campaigns. 

The survival of the people was very important rather than the elections. Declaring election at this point was the biggest mistake. 

The rallies were massive and the star campaigners attracted huge crowds. The irony is that there was no social distancing. AIIMS Chief pointed out two main reasons behind India’s rapid rise in the virus -- the lack of Ccovid-appropriate behaviour and the mutation of the virus. 

Religious and political activities were the principal cause for surge of virus, he asserted. It is stated that 9.1 million pilgrims visited Haridwar for Kumbh mela amidst alarming surge of infection.

The containment of the virus needs to be managed by the experts in the field, the epidemiologists who are having better knowledge of transmission of virus and not country bumpkins. They tried to take political mileage in the name of Covid, the ‘Tika Utsav’ with lot of advertisement and political publicity and the isolation kit with the photos of the politicians, instead that of Covid-19 warriors. 

Covid-19 warriors don’t know the cast, creed or religion of the patients, they just try to save them. 

If one cannot provide basic infrastructure and health equipment ranging from oxygen to ventilators and vaccinations, the disaster will be unimaginable and the entire medical system and warriors will collapse.

O Lord, please have mercy on us, as politicians will wash their hand like Pontius Pilate, saying, I am innocent of the blood of these people.

(The writer is PG in Journalism & Mass Communication and is the author of ‘Magnificent Monuments of Old Goa’ and ‘The Heroic St Francis Xavier’)

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