Analysing the Pandemic Confusion
For this monologue, my self-imposed charter was to focus on the most crucial issue of vaccination as it has been projected as the main weapon or panacea against the tentacles of Covid:19. However, I may not do justice if two related recent media items are not flagged at the outset.
One is a unilateral decision of some “major” states to go ahead with RELAXATION in LockDown (L.D.) after just 55 days when daily cases seem to have slid down statistically to 1,25,914 on 31 May (20 lakh daily tests on an average for nine days) from a high of 4,14,488 on 7th May, recovery exceeding case registration for 18 days but daily deaths reducing marginally (3640 on 30 May)as compared to top three countries.
Country-wide reduction in Active Cases to an extent of 20,26,092 (31 May) due to reduced admission(so curtailed demand for Oxygen) in hospitals, however, is a notable silver lining. Relaxation, apart from questioning umpteen achievements of earlier 68 day lockdown, may also jeopardize contemporary “check” mechanism and may not bolster the sinking economy. 15 % Unemployment percentage too may not go down as one Crore jobs have been lost already (Source CMIE).
Relaxation has to be a careful gradual and a well thought out process.
West Better Placed
Before we turn towards the other “item”, it could be safely concluded that West Europe, U.S. and Brazil are relatively low in density from demographic parameters which enables them to impose a lockdown at a short notice and also herald relaxation process sooner than planned. Their citizens are also of different stock (due apologies to Indians) in discipline and compliance factors. In addition, they have few festivals, social events, and short-timed weddings and funerals.
Against this backdrop, one would be baffled to hear “vaccine optimism” of the Solicitor General that follows. When medical and commercial elements hinted at a third dose with ‘third’ wave looming large, Reign’ of three prominent funguses came knocking vociferously at the wards. Supplies faltered with a bang. A deluge of Yaas & Tauktae became fresh.
If 2020 was the Year of Setbacks On Human & Economic Front & Opportunity Galore Situation,2021 could be safely called a Year of Paradoxes in Plenty situation. I may push 2022 to be perhaps termed as Year of Hope from Economic Recovery & Augmented Battle Against the Foe of Covid. If we still sulk, it may be advisable to christen the year 2023 as the Year of Renewed Hope.
Turning to item number two, one is essentially referring to information sought & directions issued to the Union of India by the Supreme Court. Apex Court was both candid in asking GoI to “smell the coffee” and modify policy asking states to pay more for vaccines, apart from not covering all villagers, owing to the “digital divide” situation.
Advent of Confusion
While touching upon the likely date of completion of vaccination, pan India, S.G.Tushar Mehta was perhaps, unrealistic (10% coverage as yet) in assuring that same was going to be completed by 2021 end. Assurance further doubts ICMR disclosure that @ of two million vaccines daily, it may still take two and a half years (Oct.2023) to get actually 70% of the population vaccinated by both doses. A revised daily target of three million vaccinations also appears a daunting task due to simmering supply constraints. Court’s additional observation that second wave policy lacked “vision,” could not be followed.
My unsolicited indulgence would be-it is next to impossible and very much in tune with the thinking of AAP, something which BJP has questioned, time & again.
Current Judicial Wisdom
The turn in attitude and outlook of the top two strata of the Judiciary is becoming interesting if not unfortunate and ironic. It may not be out of context to add that the Honourable former CJI had reportedly refused to issue any direction to UoI concerning the plight, pedestrian miseries, and ultimate exodus of wagers and migrant workers in March’20 end. Also, Delhi High Court had remarked that officers were in “Ivory Towers”
Compassion & Humanity
As long as we are sensitive, kind & compassionate without sacrificing humanitarian intent in our outlook, it’s well and good. The same may be in tune with societal reality that may reignite social solidarity. NOT perpetuate social stratification or digital India divide as Hon. Supreme Court has hinted.
The author is former Chief Secretary, Sikkim