Rajasthan, which was the first state to clamp a state-wide lockdown, becoming a role model in the process, has earned the praise of other states for being a model state which drew exhaustive and effective plans to counter the menace of the coronavirus.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot showed exceptional management skills to meet the global crisis. His bold decisions to prevent the assembly of people in open and then restricting the movement of private vehicles has yielded in good results and till Tuesday night, not a single positive case was reported in the state.
“The coronavirus spread has been contained through efficient handling and prompt isolation of the suspects. We are the first state to successfully treat three persons who were positive and now we have been able to contain the spread particularly in Bhilwara district which has become a major centre of the dread disease. The Chief Minister has handled the situation with an iron hand and streamlined the administration to prevent the spread of the disease. The bold decision of lockdown of the entire state was a masterstroke which is being followed by other states,” said health minister Raghu Sharma.
When the whole thrust is on keeping people confined to their homes to avoid mass contact with a view the break the virus chain, Gehlot was able to seek support of the corporates and individuals in creating a corpus through which daily wage earners, construction workers and other homeless people could be given food. In just three days Rs 25 crore were raised and the donations are still pouring in.
“This was a very smart move by the Chief Minister to make the public a partner in countering the threat of the virus. The donations would go a long way in feeding the poor who have been rendered jobless because of COVID-19,” said A K Agarwal, an entrepreneur and a trade leader.
Gehlot, who is serving his third term as the Chief Minister, has shown immense potential to handle crisis in the past and he showed it in his first tenure from 1998-2003 when the state was in the grip of a severe drought.
At the time, he had announced that not a single person would be allowed to die of hunger and this time he has adopted the stand that nobody would go to sleep without food. During the period of drought, Gehlot led from the front to effectively handle the famine by using the district administration to ensure that there was no death due to hunger.
In his second tenure from 2008-13 his innovative free medicine scheme became so popular that it was adopted by several state governments.
When the virus was detected in two Italian tourists, Gehlot swung into action to sanitise all such places visited by the Italian tourists and the die was cast for massive future action.
“The Chief Minister was efficient in handling the state medical and health department and the incentive of Rs 25 crore for the medical and paramedical staff worked wonders. This was enough to motivate the staff that worked tirelessly setting examples for other states”, said Dr Sudhir Bhandari, Principal of Sawai Man Singh Medical College.
In order to ensure the compliance of the orders of the government, Gehlot warned the people that any violation of the order would only force the government to clamp an indefinite curfew.
Gehlot monitored the situation and when it was found that free movement of people in their private vehicles was a hindrance in preventing the spread of the disease, the ban on the use of private vehicles came into force and this resulted in containing the spread of the epidemic.
When the Chief Minister saw people not following the lockdown orders in letter and spirit, he took strong action by banning all private vehicles on roads from March 24. Only essential services vehicles and those in exempted services have been allowed. It was a much-needed step as self-isolation and social distancing are the only and main ways to keep novel coronavirus at bay.
The High Court also has ordered that the state government’s orders should be implemented effectively and there should not be any loopholes in it.
Because of stern action by the state government in all 32 positive cases have been found in the state.
Now with a 21-day nationwide lockdown, the state is gearing itself for a long period of effective surveillance. The most important aspect of this lockdown is to ensure that nobody is deprived of food and the Gehlot government with the effective support of charitable organizations is handling this issue as effectively as it handled the menace.