No clarity on lockdown continuation

Most citizens are anticipating that further relaxation to the lockdown imposed in the country following the Covid-19 pandemic may be announced prior to 31 May. However, that may not necessarily be the case since there has been a surge in corona-positive cases from various parts, particularly the mega cities. Several states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal, are trying to figure out how to deal with the emerging situation.

It is evident that the Centre and the states are not on the same page regarding attempts to normalise the conditions. For instance, Karnataka, Punjab and Kerala, all administered by different political dispensations, have their own view of how things should be, which is in variance with the Centre’s plans. The Union government has permitted flights to go to select cities.

However, at least these state governments are adamant and are insisting on quarantining anyone who travels to the respective areas in order to prevent the virus from spreading. It would have been better if there had been consultations with the state governments before resumption of flights was announced. If these states are opposing the Centre’s move, it is obvious that they have their own reasons to do so, and politics is not amongst them.

In these troubled times it is unfortunate that all this is happening. There are also enough indications that various ministries are not functioning properly. There have been reports on how special trains meant for certain specific stations reached the wrong destinations. If this is so, the authorities are completely at sea with what is happening on the ground.

The Indian Railways is not only the largest railway network anywhere in the world but perhaps the best. For this to happen in this country is not a good reflection on those who are handing the key railways portfolio, as also members of the Board. The inter-state bus services are yet to resume and the way migrants are still struggling to reach their respective home towns and villages demonstrates that the efforts of both the state and the Centre have been inadequate.

The root cause of this inept handling is primarily because the bureaucracy has socially distanced itself from the people it is supposed to serve. An old BBC serial, Yes Minister, had brought out with humour and subtly the manner in which bureaucrats continue to mislead their political bosses. It also spoke volumes about the political heads who should grasp the departments they have been entrusted with and not let down the Prime Minister who has reposed his faith in them.

Such ministers and their babus should be divested of their assignments and sent packing. A clear message has to go down that the people of this country cannot be taken for granted. Till the time there is perfect coordination between the Centre and the states to deal with human-related problems, the objectives shall be extremely difficult to achieve.

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