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2 May, 2021 10:20:20 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 May, 2021 10:21:24 AM

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DATELINE INDIA : Emergency?

KUMKUM CHADHA
DATELINE INDIA : Emergency?

Were Emergency not a dirty word in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would perhaps have considered imposing one. The situation in India is such at the moment that it calls for the imposition of a National Health Emergency.
Mention Emergency, be it health or otherwise, and no one is willing to go that route.

The context, ofcourse, is  a dreadful rewind: the year 1975 that brings up dreadful memories: best forgotten yet etched in Memory.
It was the summer of 1975 when   Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of Emergency in India: a dreaded measure that not only put an end to civil liberties but saw many innocents, mainly Mrs Gandhi’s political opponents, in jail.
Apart from Operation Bluestar wherein Indira Gandhi ordered the Army to enter the Golden Temple in the state of Punjab, Emergency is a blot on her somewhat dictatorial tenure. Every time the anti- Congress forces have targeted the Nehru-Gandhi family, they have pulled out the  spectre  of Emergency. Therefore, politically it has remained “untouchable” to say the least.

Given that the BJP has been in the forefront of this attack, it is now unthinkable for it to be associated with a measure that it has vociferously denounced. Therefore, even if the situation warrants a step like the  draconian like the Emergency to be taken, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to resort to it.

There is no denying the fact that the current situation in India calls for never like before measures. People are dying by the minute, hospitals are full-up and the entire health infrastructure has collapsed.

The Government, even while it claims to be making efforts, does not appear to be doing enough. The calamity has far surpassed governance and the people are actually on their own. Under the circumstances, the expectations are that the Government brings  the situation under control sooner than later: if that is, at all possible now. For as it appears, things have come to such a naught that there is nothing to fall back on. That the Government’s complacency is the single most factor in its failure to assess the possibility and magnanimity of the second surge is a given. There can be no excuses or forgiveness for such a lapse.

Having said that, one cannot absolve the people of what their negligence has cost their fellow countrymen and women and the nation as a whole. It has not only cancelled the gains we had achieved last year be it timely lockdown, Covid management or vaccine strategy but has put us back by several years by its sheer negligence, oversight, laid back attitude and actually believing  that this is the “endgame” of Covid in India.

This led to majority Indians letting their guard down and going into a business as usual mode. People were out and without any safeguards with masks appearing to be things of the past, as it were. Social distancing was given a go-by and though religious festivities and political rallies were a contributory factor, they cannot be solely responsible. The second surge has struck and struck lethally in states where neither religious festivities nor political rallies were held. Therefore, to singularly blame these events is missing the point. It is the people as a whole who are responsible for ignoring the safety norms and worse still in fooling themselves in believing that the virus has finally disappeared from India. Under the circumstances both the Government and the people are equal partners in crime, if one may use the term.

The second surge, though unfortunately, stopped everyone in their tracks. So now the question staring everyone in the face is: what next? As of now there seem no answers given the unpredictability of the virus and the speed of its spread. The Government also can do that much therefore a blame game is not a solution.

But then is declaring a National Health Emergency the way out? Maybe; maybe not. Even if it is, it is unlikely that the BJP government will go that route. Its drafting in the Armed Forces and giving it emergency financial powers  to fight the surge are enough indication that the Government will do what it takes except resort to declaring a national Emergency.

Demands for imposing an Emergency are coming in from leaders in the Congress which has often been attacked for imposing  Emergency in the country. Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily called for concrete steps such as declaring a health emergency to deal with the pandemic: “Is this”, the senior leader asked, “not the time to declare a health emergency followed by a financial emergency”. Congress’ Kapil Sibal too asked the Government to declare a National Health Emergency: “Modiji: Declare a National Health Emergency”, Sibal tweeted.

Irrespective, this is neither about politics nor scoring points. This is about the nation: a nation that has nearly lost the war that it had gallantly won last year; this is about the people who are now crying foul but conveniently overlooking how much they have contributed to the mess we are in right  with no signs of a reprieve; and finally this is about a Government that is fast losing the game. (ends)

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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