Thursday, August 5, 2021

Behaviour of institutions, leaders, citizens during crisis reveals character of nation

India is in a deep crisis. People are dying in thousands. It is leading the world in terms of Covid -19 infections and deaths. The positivity rate has gone up to 17 per cent in the last 12 days. In the second wave the virus is not sparing even the young. In Delhi, for instance, 65 per cent of the patients are under 40. The healthcare infrastructure has collapsed. Ambulances are queuing up at hospitals with patients and at crematoria and graveyards with dead bodies. The patients  on the stretchers and ambulances are gasping for breath while their relatives are fighting for beds and oxygen cylinders.  The country had never witnessed such a bizarre situation in the past.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Tika Utsav’ for four days was a disaster. How can there be Utsav without the supply of Tika (vaccine) in the first place? Even the basic care of knowing the status of vaccine availability  was not taken before making the announcement. Oxygen cylinders are being diverted, looted and sold in black market. The base qualities in the people  are strikingly visible in testing times like this.

Even after three candidates died of corona virus in West Bengal, the BJP did not stop the big rallies. The initiative taken by young leader of the oldest party, Rahul Gandh, has evoked positive response from the Trinamool Congress earlier and the BJP on Thursday. The deteriorating health conditions in the country resulting in unprecedented crisis have also contributed to the decision of  Narendra Modi deciding to avoid going to West Bengal on Friday for election campaign. He said he had an important meeting to review Covid -19 in Delhi on Friday.  Union Home Minister Amit Shah also has cancelled two of his election rallies and is returning to Delhi. Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, had announced almost a week ago that she would not campaign in the rest of the phases. Are elections more important than the lives of the citizens?

It was Rahul Gandhi who declared first that he would keep away from West Bengal election campaign. Consequently he tested positive and  is in isolation at his home in Delhi. He was followed by Mamata Banerjee. The country meanwhile has slipped into chaos. The morale of the country and the leadership is under severe pressure. The character of the nation is revealed in adverse conditions. The way the cylinders of medical oxygen are being looted, the pharmacists and the retailers are selling medicines in black for exorbitant prices and the way the private corporate hospitals are fleecing the patients are a testimony to the lack of character. The union minister Prahlad Patel threatening a person who was asking for oxygen cylinders to give two tight slaps shows the arrogance of the ruling class.

The attitude of the Supreme Court Bench presided by the outgoing Chief Justice of India SA Bobde  in deciding  to take suo motu congnizance of all the Covid cases that are being heard at various high courts also shows the highhandedness of the apex court. Senior lawyers of the Supreme Court have criticized the CJI for the decision. The Supreme Court Bar Council also filed a petition opposing the move. The bench headed by Justice Bobde which include Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat had appointed senior advocate Harish Salve as an amicus  curiae in the matter. The apex court’s extraordinary move came when Bombay High Court and Delhi High Court had called for urgent interventions.  Both Maharashtra and Delhi are under non-BJP rule. What is wrong if a high court intervenes to save some lives in times like this? What is Supreme Court’s problem? Why does it want to stop the high court from hearing the public interest litigations? The decision of the high court to ask the UP government to declare clampdown in some towns was set aside by the Supreme Court. The attitude of the SC in this regard also is not supported by many legal luminaries. 

The Election Commission of India also is being criticized for the way it has been taking decisions in West Bengal. Calcutta High Court on Wednesday was very critical of the ECI and the officers working on the ground in the State for doing nothing to implement the circular on Covid-19 protocol. It was very clear that the ECI was harsh on the chief minister and soft on the BJP leaders.

At times of crisis, the behavior of every individual institution is closely watched by the people. This is the time when everyone should think of saving lives of the people, not serving vested interests.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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