Highly challenging times are indeed confronting Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Presently the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic assumes the configuration of a rapid-fire blitz in mainland India while the killer virus is wreaking havoc with its emblematic carpet-bombing. Whereas tens of thousands across the nation have fallen prey to the deadly infection, Assam is yet to witness the peak which could still be some time away. This again, to a significant extent, is dependent on how effectively or deplorably the killer disease is tackled in Assam as well as in the rest of India. Unfortunately, despite the experience and the tactical errors committed during the first wave last year, the Centre’s focus, as usual, was pinned on bombastic rhetoric like defeating the pandemic or swagger that India is the ‘pharmacy of the world’. Despite several warnings from different internationally reputed scientific quarters on the possible advent of a second Corona wave, turning a blind eye to all warnings, the bigwigs of Delhi drew up their roadmap of vacuity replete with vaccine diplomacy & mighty-mouthed statements to impress upon the international community. This move indeed proved to be a display of utterly short-lived vanity and self-egoism – a flop show at the global forum. Further, as in present-day India, votes and political power are of paramount importance, the teeming millions reeling amidst joblessness, lack of income, penury, poverty & various kinds of health problems are exposed to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic in lakhs by the Centre through their all-important vote-for-power mission. Most ridiculously, around the time (roughly January 2021 to April 2021) when the vast majority of countries across the world, save the banana nations, were stock-piling medicines and other anti-Covid requirements while building up health infrastructure to fight a possible Corona invasion, the Delhi demi-gods were engaged in image building. It was highly irresponsible to presume that the war against the pandemic was already won, laced with stupid rhetoric like ‘world pharmacy’ and export of vaccines. Whereas a highly bitter truth surrounds India’s vaccine export exercise, the cruel reality is that the common man is running from pillar to post for the vaccine in vain. From April till date lakhs were infected by the killer virus and thousands succumbed to it on a daily basis across India. Fortunately, the world community woke up to the sorry ruins of the ‘world pharmacy’ and took to dispatch of mountains of medical aids to India. It certainly is not a case of the world holding India in very high esteem. Like India, a handful of other countries, including some banana nations, also are facing the same music on account of their stupidity and lack of vision. But the world cannot allow the killer virus to have a field day year after year. The global community wants this planet to be totally free of all variants of Coronavirus. Hence, such huge medical assistance to India and a few other countries even at the hefty cost of surrendering patent rights. Alas! If only Delhi were to have the vision to take the needful steps some 3-4 months ago instead of indulging in vagaries & fake rhetorical howls, perhaps the Covid-19 landscape across the nation might have been substantially better placed today. The Central ‘Prabhus’ may be told that to fight a pandemic of such gigantic dimension, full preparation with minutes of homework is vital. Minus appropriate deeds, mighty-mouthed hollow rhetoric is as good as an invitation to doomsday. The ‘Prabhus’ may also refrain from promoting superstitious steps like the banging of ‘thalis’ or flashing of lights to the sky to drive away Covid-19. With several states in India having already been devastated by the Covid-19 surge, the situation appears to be improving marginally following the arrival of medical aids from abroad. However, it is natural that the ravage let loose by the malignant virus elsewhere in India on account of the Centre’s imbecility & irresponsibility, would have its fallout, be it on a lesser scale, elsewhere in the country. Assam and some other states are now bearing the curse, not insignificantly, accruing from overflowing arrogance, haughtiness, undue self-pride & vanity, egotism and the self-congratulatory attitude of New Delhi. The Godi media has only enhanced the vagary & whimsicality of the Delhi Sultans. Meanwhile, as Himanta Biswa Sarma has taken guard as the 15th chief minister of Assam, it is highly imperative that he confronts the challenges in totality and squarely. He has inherited a scenario ravished from all ends while the Covid-19 chain continues to get lengthier. For sure the new CM cannot be faulted for the massive turbulence & friction ruling the roost as of now in the health sector in Assam. In Assam, although the second Covid-19 wave scenario appears to be a shade better than elsewhere in the country, the health infrastructure is already showing signs of cracks like acute shortage of vaccines, Remdesivir and other life-saving medical items. Nevertheless, the entire state definitely stands behind Sarma in the fight against the pandemic. What remains to be seen is how Dispur goes about its mission – with adroit acumen & dexterity or implausible vacuity & vanity. Meanwhile, it is high time that the Centre got down to the task of preparing to squarely confront a possible third Covid-19 wave as warned by certain quarters.
Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org More by Talmizur Rahman