Herald View: Didn't Indians get the 'governance' they deserved ?

The way forward must begin by questioning priorities of this government. Is a new parliament building more important than the quality of life of people?

Herald View: Didn't Indians get the 'governance' they deserved ?

Herald View

It is hard to look for silver linings in the middle of a national crisis of unprecedented proportions. The morale of the people is low with fear of an uncertain and ominous future weighing on them. Health workers are overwhelmed and demoralized. Many hospital beds seem to have been cornered by people who may not need them. But because they are entitled, privileged and have strings to pull, they have quarantined themselves in hospitals on the plea that they do not want their family exposed to the risk of infection.

The Government spokesmen, guilty of sending out mixed and contradictory messages, have been reduced to speculate that time might have come for people to wear masks at home. Police in several states are busy discharging their duty by arresting people found without masks or loitering in violation of the curfew or lockdown. Many such people are being forced to pay a fine and are being produced before magistrates. It is no less ironical that nobody seems to be responsible for curbing the flourishing black market in drugs, medical equipment and oxygen. Nobody has been arrested for hoarding life-saving medicines or charging prohibitive prices.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the rich and the affluent have fled to Maldives, Dubai, the Bahamas and to Europe. A report from England claimed that on a single day as many as eight chartered flights from India landed in London in April to beat the deadline after which no aircraft from India was allowed.

As images of a woman desperately trying to revive her husband by breathing into his mouth, funeral pyres lit like lamps in Diwali and people gasping for breath in ambulances and on the streets flood social media, the government has reacted by threatening to punish people for ‘disinformation’. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister has ordered police to confiscate the property of critics who make adverse comments on the government’s Covid preparedness and shortages of beds, medicine and oxygen.

The Union health minister cannot be faulted for not putting up a brave face and claim that the country is better prepared today than it was last year. The preparedness of the government, however, is getting exposed on a daily basis as other countries rush in vaccines, ventilators, oxygen and oxygen plants besides cryogenic tankers, military ambulances and medicines. While the vast majority of Indians have always known that they have to fend for themselves, India’s middle classes are only now waking up to the reality that they cannot trust the ‘system’ to protect them; that they can be only as safe and secure as the rest of the people.

While the virus stalking the country has proved to be a great ‘leveller’ and has not discriminated between the rich and the poor or between people of different castes and community, many Indians have painfully realised that their generation of Indians has created a country of second-class citizens. This is not what Indians deserved but they are paying the price for not holding their leaders to account, for not demanding that adequate attention be paid to health and education.

By allowing the divisive and cynical agenda of politicians, by succumbing to delusions of grandeur and past glory, by responding to blatant bigotry and hatred, we have brought this upon ourselves. We have nobody but ourselves to blame. People do get the government they deserve. The way forward must begin by questioning priorities of this government. Is a new parliament building more important than the quality of life of people?

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