The graph of the COVID-19 pandemic has flattened in India. The sharpening and flattening of the graph is a statistical analysis. It is based on earlier phenomena of similar kind. This gives us an understanding which may be correct or may not be so correct.
Whatever it may be, at the moment, more than the pandemic, the lockdown is the matter of major concern for people not only in India but all over the world. The long lockdown has affected the normal life of the people and hugely disrupted the economic activities. In a recent report in the New Your Times, it said: In India, thousands of workers are lining up twice a day for bread and fried vegetables to keep hunger at bay.
Across Colombia, poor households are hanging red clothing and flags from their windows and balconies as a sign that they are hungry. ‘We don’t have any money, and now we need to survive,’ said Pauline Karushi, who lost her job at jewellery business in Nairobi, and lives in two rooms with her child and four other relatives. ‘That means not eating much’.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought hunger to millions of people around the world. National lockdowns and social distancing measures are drying up works and incomes, and are likely to disrupt agricultural production and supply routes- leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat.
The coronavirus has sometimes been called equaliser because it has sickened both rich and poor, but when it comes to food the commonality ends. It is poor people, including large segments of poorer nations who are now going hungry and facing the prospect of starving…It has been the great revealer, pulling the curtain back on the class divide and exposing how deeply unequal this country is.
We also had disturbing news of pandemic related violence from downtown Paris early this week. The political scientist Sylvie Tissot said, “All the existing inequalities, of housing, of health, of jobs have been reinforced and revealed by the lockdown.”
It so happens that whether it is a pandemic or any kind of natural or manmade disaster, the worst affected are always the marginalized and the poor people. Why is so? It is because they are the people with lesser safeguard and protection. When any such upheaval takes place their life goes haywire. Likewise the pandemic has also affected them the most now.
How is a pandemic of this sort could be fought best? It is certainly a difficult question. But finally it is an issue of good governance. Good governance doesn’t mean only a community of well fed, well clothed and well sheltered people. It also means a community of people with freedom and choice. What are the basic criteria of prevalence of freedom and choice in a society? Two things determine it: people’s participation in decision making and the rule of law.
People’s participation is just not holding the periodical elections. It is holding of free and fair elections without any indirect and direct duress on the electorates. Fundamental criteria of rule of law is independence of the judiciary. If we apply these criteria of good governance to the countries of the world we can see which countries in the world have handled the COVID19 crisis well.
If in this context we look at the Indian scenario, what do we see? Are we enjoying good governance at the moment in the country? What is the role of the people in the decision making process? Yes, the Central Government and various state governments came to power through elections. It is true that elections were also held by and large in a free and fair atmosphere.
But it was free and fair only in appearance, because in recent years they were held in a most vitiated atmosphere. Before I come to that, let us admit that every society inherits certain festering wound for historical reasons. Communalism is such a festering wound gifted to us by the Britishers. There are two ways to deal with this. One is to heal this wound so that the society is strengthened from inside.
The other is to spread this wound further to weaken the country for partisan ends. This communal card was never played so brazenly to influence the elections in India as has been done in recent years. This communal virus is eating into the core of our society. Even this pandemic was not spared.
It was used to deepen the communal divide in the country. Subsequently we have seen how dissent has disappeared from our democracy and made it completely hollow. As a result the rule of law is weakening. The independence of judiciary is eroded never before.
In this situation the central government has taken all the COVID 19 related decisions unitarily with little or no discussion with the opposition parties and civil society. Same is the case with the Assam Government here. Somebody can say why Central Government had an all party meeting on the pandemic.
Assam government also had an all party meeting. Besides, the prime minister spoke to people and is still speaking to people on this. The chief minister also spoke to a number of people. Of course they spoke to people and are still speaking to people. But how much of it in letter and how much of it is in spirit?