The fungus did not expect an attack from a virus!!

By Cleofato A Coutinho
09 May 2021 14:31 IST

The invasion by corona virus infection has devastated our country and our tiny state. Now more people have started dying due to hospital mismanagement than the infection. Many, finding no space in hospitals are dying in the parking lot. Crematoria have no place for the dead. Even fire wood has run out at many cremation gaths. The mismanagement of the second covid wave leading to thousands ‘returning to the lord’ is at an unprecedented scale, not seen since the time of partition. There can be nothing worse than this.

Who is responsible for shortage of beds, oxygen, and vaccines? Did we hear of any head rolling over mismanagement? Is it the cabinet, the highest decision making body or the Central Disaster management authority? Should Niti Ayogh or Prime Minister’s office take responsibility? In our state, is it the smooth talking health minister or Ayurvedic practitioner- the Chief Minister?

There is always a refrain, that this is not the time to ask questions. At this time of great health crisis, we are told- “stay safe, take care of your loved ones” Yes.  But it is part of democratic practice to ask hard questions in bad times. Even our High Courts and the Supreme Court are travelling beyond their jurisdictions in questioning the executive over tragedy trust on us. The silence of the Supreme Court in the first wave, when a mass of humanity walked to nowhere, must   have numbed the powerful into this callous inaction leading to this human devastation in the second wave. Instead of lighting candles and banging utensils, if the government was shown the mirror, may be the tragedy this year could have been avoided. The architects of avoidable tragedy must be questioned. The real   threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.

Both at the center and in the states including ours- there are avoidable deaths only because those whom we entrusted, failed us. It’s not evil, that brought the virus to ruin our country and the state, but mediocrity in thinking and leadership in tackling the virus. Nothing is more appropriate than to get reminded of the Emperor fiddling while Rome burned. It is the case as Wole Soyinka, the, Nigerian Nobel laureate said. “We asked for statesmen, we were sent executioners”

Our country’s greatest asset, built over a period of seventy years, had been it’s reputation  as ‘world’s largest democracy’  with flavour of diversity and of course inequality. Our asset is now devalued to ‘land of elections’ only to maintain façade of a functioning democracy. Building of an asset is always a difficult task.( Gujarat has not added a single large hospital in the last 27 years!)  The asset of a functioning democracy built over seventy years was devalued in just seven years.  It was believed that that administration can go on a holiday even in pandemic times as long as electoral time schedules are kept.

 We had started questioning competence of ordinary mortals to choose statesmen as we never got them.   It is with contempt that we looked at people’s mandates. In case any mandate went against the empire, it could always be stolen in broad day light like they did in Goa, Karnataka or MP. We also believed that is smart politics.  We almost believed that governance and administrative performance has no correlation with electoral outcomes. Our PM’s image was supposed to be Teflon coated How else can one justify the PM preening a name embroiled suit on a national occasion. How does one justify spending 2700 million dollars in having a new parliament house and a new house for PM or buy luxury planes worth 1150 million dollars, when  he country had no money to vaccinate it’s population.

The   demonetization played havoc with our economy. Much before Corona virus invaded our country, one singular factor that brought our economy to a sorry pass is this disastrous move, the unemployment and rural distress has been at all-time high.  All that did not impact the UP polls then   his majesty got a second term in this land of elections.

It was almost like the takeover of the floor where the dance of democracy   takes place. All dancers could take part to keep the semblance of a show. In aid of this dance, the election commission shall played the tunes of the ‘chosen two’. We knew they had well-funded and fully greased formidable election machinery aided by central institutions which kept check on the dancers (even M.K.Stalin’s daughter was raided by Income Tax). An aura of invincibility was built by pliable media which crawled, when it was not even asked to bend. That media built the strong leader cult, so strong that even devastation in the first wave was showcased as triumph.

Four young Muslim boys from poor background fell to the bullets of central security forces at Sitalkuchi. One representative of the ‘chosen two’ said more should have been killed and the naughty boys of Bengal were warned of more such Sitalkuchis. For them lives of citizens never mattered. They are subjects in their scheme of things. It is this apathy for the people that numbed them as electoral victories came in their way. Everybody spoke of the other side being dead and the invincibility of his majesty.

Suddenly his majesty’s aura of invincibility is lost. Their image has taken a severe beating by his failure to handle the health crisis, the blame for which cannot be laid at any other door. The darling of the Indian media has been pilloried by foreign media like never before. The aspirant for global leadership also failed a domestic test in Bengal. As Shankarsen Thakur puts it “What the fungus was not expecting was a deadly attack from a virus”

 

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Cleofato A Coutinho

Cleofato Almeida Coutinho is a senior lawyer and one of the constitutional expert in Goa. A member of Law Commission of Goa, he also teaches at Kare College of Law in Madgao.

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