Connect with us

South Asia

The Second Wave of Covid-19: Corona Virus 2.0

Published

on

Authors: Dhruv Surana and Ravina Sharma*

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is stated to have started from the city of Wuhan, China. As we all know COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 12th March, 2020. The first case of the deadly virus was detected in Kerala, India on 30th January 2020 and since then the numbers have been increasing at a tremendous rate. The Government of India, on anticipating a steep rise in the number of the cases, declared a Lockdown in India in a phased manner bringing the country to an entire standstill with only essential items available for the public at large.

Thereafter on and from 4th May, 2020 the third phase of the lockdown was enforced by the Government of India but with certain relaxations depending upon the zones (Red, Orange and Green) categorized by the Government itself. The positives of the said relaxation were only opening up of private offices with 33% staff to re-start the economy but all other relaxations are creating a situation in which the worse times are yet to be seen.

Two main relaxations given by the Government which in our opinion will result in the elephantine increase in the number of cases are opening of liquor shops and migration of the stranded labour from one state to another. Though both could have been positive if effective steps were taken by the respective State Governments but no such step was taken. On the 4th of May, 2020 itself the long ques outside the liquor shops, violating social distancing, were seen and that would result in the increase of the number of cases. The Government of India has all along asked the public to follow social distancing but the people flouted the same was were standing at not even a feet’s distance from each other. This contagious decease is set to spread with flouting of social distancing. The State Governments have increased the value of liquor by adding cess and other taxes only for the purpose to increase their revenue but are not willing to shut the liquor stores. If increase in Revenue by selling liquor is the only source of income for the State Government, the States should not have closed the liquor shops and would have continued its sale by maintaining social distancing. The Government should have started online delivery of the liquor instead of selling them in the standalone shops. Further, public had been waiting in the ques outside the liquor shops since morning but the Police authorities failed to take any steps to curtail such ques being formed violating the physical distancing. This will only lead to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in India.

Another blunder made by the Governments was to allow migration of stranded labour from one state to another. The State Governments should have planned a much better and systematic manner for migration of the people in case they were so keen to do so. People have been seen flouting the compulsory quarantine on being migrated. The authorities failed to properly test persons before migrating them. A proper COVID-19 test should have been conducted for all persons wanting to be migrated before migrating them on buses and trains where it is humanly impossible to maintain social distancing. The labour class are the uneducated class and are not much aware about the kind of pandemic COVID-19 is and hence it is not possible to expect from them that they will be maintaining social distancing at all. There have been cases in Orissa where on migration the migrants have run away from the quarantine centres. This only shows the lacuna in the administration of the Government. Migrants sent back to Punjab from Maharashtra have been tested positive on arrival. There are many cases which have been reported where migrants have been tested positive. The State Governments are not conducting proper tests before such migration. In the recent times various persons have been tested positive who are asymptomatic but the State Governments have not yet learnt the lesson and are playing with the lives of the poor migrants. The instant surge in the number of cases where the daily toll was above 3000 cases is not leading to flattening of the curve but only an increase in the curve. The entire purpose of the lockdown will be rendered futile and the country will not be able to win over this pandemic.

Though small in size but having maximum international exposure, Thailand, which was the first country to report COVID-19 outside China on 13th January, 2020 has on date almost won the battle against COVID-19 as the cases being reported per day is only two or three. The citizens of Thailand are maintaining social distancing and hence public transport has re-opened and soon people will be living a normal life free of COVID-19. But unfortunately in India, people are wilfully and happily flouting social distancing and despite the Government’s direction mandating wearing of masks, people are being seen roaming around without wearing the masks. The reluctance of the public at large will act has a hindrance to overcome COVID-19.

It is time when strict measures are taken by the Government to ensure that public maintain social distancing and take steps to ensure that the virus does not spread. With the cases increasing each day, the curve is far from being flattened. The fight against the virus, the lockdown and all efforts taken by the corona warriors will be rendered fruitless and there will be a surge in the number of the cases. Though India was successful in curbing the increase in the cases at the beginning unlike other developed nations but steps like opening the liquor stores for earning revenue will only increase the number of cases.

India is currently facing the first wave of COVID- 19 and if steps are not taken by the Government of India to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the earliest, India will soon witness the second wave of COVID-19 which is basically the disastrous situation the developed nations are undergoing at present. Corona Virus 2.0 will be worse and our country will find it difficult to face such a situation.

We wish the State Governments in consultation with the Central Government act instantly with such steps that would flatten the curve and take steps without keeping in mind their vote banks. We wish for a COVID-19 free India at the earliest. Stay Home – Stay Safe. Jai Hind.

*Ravina Sharma- Advocate Practicing before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and Supreme Court of India and Research Scholar at Ansal University, Gurugram.

Continue Reading
Comments

South Asia

How Free Is India?

Published

on

Under Narendra Modi’s virulent Hindu nationalist leadership, India has lost another prize:  it is no  longer designated as ‘Free’ in the latest Freedom House freedom report.  Based on civil liberties and political rights, the country rankings are published annually, and India’s new classification is “Partly Free’ like arch rival Pakistan.

Suffering a progressive decline since Modi took over, India barely made the cut-off last year scoring 71.  For comparison, a country like Canada scores 98, the UK 93 and the US only 83.  Norway, Sweden and Finland are the only three countries with a perfect score of 100.

If China under Xi Jinping is grasping for top economic status, living there is no panacea according to the Freedom House report.  It is one of a very few countries given a negative for political rights and only 11 for civil liberties scoring a total of 9.  Yes, that’s a single digit and close to countries like Saudi Arabia 7 and Tajikistan 8.

India, however, considers itself a democracy, so what has happened there?  The answer of course is that Modi happened, and Yogi Adityanath, an extreme right-wing nationalist appointed by Modi to run India’s most populous state, happened.  Then discriminating laws and laws curbing dissent happened.  

There is also the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which excludes Muslims from its benefits and the associated National Register of Citizens (NRC) which penalizes and requires proof of citizenship, again targeting the vulnerable.  Critics call it an act with the potential to rob India’s 200 million Muslims of their nationality.

Political parties other than the ruling BJP say that they will not implement the acts in the Indian states where they run the provincial governments.  The central government contends they must, setting the stage for a lawsuit.

In the enduring Kashmir problem, Kashmiris who are predominantly Muslim are fully aware of their status in an India that now seeks to unify Kashmir with India without their consent and with their status as citizens subect to social inequity.  If citizenship is a sense of belonging, in Modi’s India it appears to cohere specifically around a Hindu identity — Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis need not apply … unless they are willing to be second-class citizens.

Consider the case of a Muslim primary school teacher, Farida Begum, charged with sedition and jailed awaiting trial.  She and her students put on a school play about the CAA and NRC, the latter requiring proof of citizenship and the former marginalizing Muslims by exclusion.  In the play, a woman complains how a boy who was selling tea (a reference to Mr. Modi’s tea shop from his early days) is now demanding documents and how she might have to dig up the graves of ancestors to find them.  The teacher and the mother of the play’s lead have been charged with sedition — sedition with 9-year old girls might appear to be risible but apparently not in Modi’s India.

In this India of a tea-seller from Gujarat with ridiculous sedition laws and blatantly discriminatory citizenship acts, it is a natural consequence that Freedom House (a respected think tank with a history going back to 1941) in its latest annual report should no longer classify it as a free country, for it is not.

Continue Reading

South Asia

Pakistan: Politics entered into a new phase

Published

on

Although Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan got the vote of confidence from Parliament and seems his grip over politics. No doubt that the masses in Pakistan still believe that he is an honest, sincere, and visionary leader. But many questions are rising in their minds. Like: why he opted for seeking a vote of confidence from the Parliament: was he obliged? Any legal requirement? Was he wanted to prove his popularity? Etc.

Irrespective of Senate elections, he was not legally bound to seek a vote of confidence from the Parliament. In Pakistan’s history, one of the prime ministers got a vote of confidence from the Parliament but could not survive longer and have to leave his prime minister-ship soon.

Will PM Imran Khan complete his remaining tenure till 2023 comfortably? Should he stay relax once getting a vote of confidence and proving his popularity? Should he conceive all is fine and his Prime Ministership is out of danger? Will the opposition stay calm and quiet till 2023 for the next general election in the country? And so on, many questions need to be answered.

True, it is absolutely true that PM Imran Kahn, for 178 votes in the National Assembly and secured his confidence in the Parliament. It was only the vote of filthy wealthy parliamentarians; they might not be reflecting the views of the masses. They got elected in the general elections held in 2018 but have lost contact with the masses in their own constituencies. PM Imran Khan also has in isolation from his voters. A specific class has encircled him and keep a distance between him and the masses. They do not know how tough is life for the majority of masses in their constituencies. The cost of life, inflations, and price-hike have made their lives miserable.

Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, who is a well-known public leader and representative, has expressed his views just after the vote of confidence in the Parliament that the Prime Minister should take notice of Government Servants Salary structure, which has not been revised for a long time. In contrast, the inflation and price-hike have made their lives miserable.  I fact majority of the masses are facing hardship due to price-hike and are not satisfied with the Governance of PM Imran Khan. They might reflect their anger in the next general elections.

PM Imran Khan has struggled 22 years to become 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. He made several promises to the public to seek their support during the election campaign. People of Pakistan shown trust in him and voted for him. But after becoming Prime Minister, he has not met the expectations of the masses or his voters. He has not fulfilled some of his promises. Especially his promises affecting the common person and masses are not fulfilled, which might harm his political career.

The country is still facing an economic crisis, joblessness, poverty, corruption, lack of merit, denial of justice and lack of health care and education, etc. The masses are still suffering and living a miserable life.

PM Imran Khan cares a lot for the imported elite and which was reflected in the senate elections. He has chosen 15 out of 27 cabinet members from outside the hardcore PTI members. His choice of imported, dual national, foreign nationals, and electives from other parties will not stand with him once he is in deep crisis and may travel abroad, leaving him alone. Some of his cabinet members, who have not to stake in Pakistan, or on the pay role of foreign countries, may not rescue him in severe crises. At the cost of few cabinet members, he should not offend his loyal workers and PTI members.

This is when he should think twice about what caused him to seek the vote of confidence. How should he serve Pakistan in the capacity of Prime minister, where he can meet the masses’. It is masses whose votes make a difference. The elite is not more than 10% in the country, and their vote bank can not make him Prime Minister again.

On the other hand, the opposition is intended to give him a hard time and may not spare him to relax or enjoy the prime ministership longer. The masses, due to dissatisfaction, may be exploited by the opposition.

As a matter of fact, Pakistan’s politics has entered into a new phase, and it is suggested that PM Imran Khan availing this opportunity, should re-evaluate the situation and revise some of his policies and take merit-based righ decisions. It is never too late!

Continue Reading

South Asia

COVID-19 pandemic and positives/negatives of the Pakistani government’s policy towards it

Published

on

The covid-19 erupt from Wuhan in December 2019. The first case in Pakistan was observed on February 26th, 2020.It is considered a global pandemic because of its contagious nature. It has engulfed many lives and economies. Whereas Pakistan, despite its socioeconomic and political problems, has tackled covid-19 efficiently so far. Objectives of these policies were to contain and mitigate the spread of covid-19. Pakistan made effective policies to hamper the unfurling nature of covid-19. It was praised by the director-general of WHO and he mentioned it as a lesson for the rest of the world. The upshots of the policies on its citizens were both positive and negative, but they helped a lot in sailing through covid-19.

Covid-19 has accentuated the inadequacy of the health sector. However, to combat covid-19, RFCC assists hospitals to evolve their capacities to provide treatments. Many hotels and motels were converted into quarantine centers. Number of ventilators, gears, beds, and testing capability has been increased. Pakistan got a loan of $760M to improve its medical handling. These policies seem effective as they are the major line to combat covid-19. Number of staff has also increased. These policies play a crucial role in containing Corona virus but due to lack of awareness, many people didn’t get tested. Overall, it played a positive role.

“Out of 220M population, 25% are living below the poverty line and 30% live in grave poverty,” said the PM Imran khan. Therefore, containing the poverty and retaining the economy is an arduous task. For this purpose, the Ehsas program was launched with a stipend money of Rs.12000 for the vulnerable. Employees wouldbe paid a salary during complete lock-down. The government displayed leniency in paying taxes to accelerate the investment. The banks remained open during the nationwide lock-down. However, an in-depth analysis reveals that Ehsas program didn’t prove effective due to the absence of a proper tracking system. The poor and needy people in rural areas were not affable with the technology, therefore they were unable to enroll in this program.

Moreover, the government’s policy of smart lockdown cannot be ignored. It started in April, targeting the disease hotspots. The purpose of this policy was to provide a breathing space to the most vulnerable section of the society. Because nationwide lock-down was threatening food security. Smart lock-down technology played a crucial role and made Pakistan distinctive around the world.

To dampen the adverse effects of covid-19 on society, section 144 was implemented to avoid public gathering. According to the health ministry “home quarantine, zoning of hospitals, and social distancing should be in the nitty-gritty of the policy.” They imposed a ban on air traffic and started screening at the airports for international travellers these measures proved beneficial to some extent. But unfortunately the government couldn’t ensure the SOPs.

In a nutshell, the aforementioned account enables a worthy conclusion that Pakistan has managed to contain the devastating effect of covid-19, however, the danger is not over yet. The second wave of covid-19 has started globally which can overturn the successful results other way round. Therefore, some stringent action should be taken to make the policy of containment of covid-19 more effective that is only possible if there is a consensus between the federal and provincial governments. The only way to limit the dangers of the virus is to come up with the unified and all inclusive national plans.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending