BY Staff writer
The lockdown announced by PM Modi on 24th March was essential for stopping the spread of Covid-19 infection is definitely true. But what happened in the aftermath is not only disastrous but reprehensible. And could have been definitely avoided . Millions of migrants were given a time of just four hours for a 21 days lockdown ! Roughly 40 crore Indians rely on daily earnings in some way or another to live their day. They were just told to stay put ! Their offices closed, roads empty and with no places to call their shelter in this tough times they had no idea how they were going to sustain beyond 2-3 days. This eventually led to scenes of mass exodus towards their villages, mostly via roads since trains and buses are at standstill.
But the question is how can a govt. be so unprepared while deciding such a monumental step in a country as large and poor as India ! Was it a decision taken after fair discussion and planning or was it another grandstanding ? The latter looks more closer to the truth . At least in a democracy, it is expected that such a decision should have been taken after much planning . This is why we have a cabinet system and so many high ranking bureaucrats . Shouldn’t they have raised such issues during the decision making process. Of course there still would have problems , but not as bad as it looks now ! One of the biggest exodus India has seen since partition!
Every problem can be minimised if not solved, with proper planning . Was it communicated to local officials to help out migrants ? Were they told how they could have let homeless and poor migrants stay in empty govt schools or colleges and other such shelters ? Was it communicated to migrants themselves ? Apparently not . This exodus has brought into question the very purpose of 21 day lockdown which has serious ramification for an emerging country like India not only for the fear of spread of coronavirus but also for the crores of people living on little earnings and savings .
This brings us to another important question . Why do we don’t question our leaders enough ? Why are bureaucrats who are appointed for the very purpose to get policies and decisions implemented on ground fail to raise right objections at the right time ? These questions beg an answer and they have some pointers in my view .
The first one lies with the people , it appears that people in our country are tending to be generally submissive . They want a leader to who they can pass on all authority and give him/them their responsibility and then trust . They are not ready to question him if he is ready show authority and power in ‘some way’. This is one reason that explains a flourishing culture of Babas and Sants in India when even a small google search can quite easily shatter their aura of divinity . People en masse have submitted to them. Similar behaviour is something that we see in people with government . Inspite of its failings on so may fronts , people are not ready to see beyond it. If not anything they should have at least questioned the government . This idea that ‘ If PM MODI has done it , it must be right.’ Is not going to take us anywhere . For the good of the country people need to forego this notion and question the failings and policies of government when they do not bear the right results. This is what democracy means and this distinguishes it from Autocracy and Authoritarian rule.
The second problem lies with bureaucracy .Their selfish motives that do not look beyond favourable perks is destroying the very idea of the need for strong bureaucracy that Sardar Patel envisioned and fought for . Most of the bureaucrats who are consulted on any policy matter sit in Delhi and would like it to remain this way . It offers them more power and the location of Delhi is itself a major perk. The result ? – they do not want to antagonise any minister or senior bureaucrat which can make they position and place in delhi shaky . This is breeding a culture of ‘YesMen’ with no questions asked. This is a troublesome situation for our country and its well being. Our civil servants need to raise their opinion and views if they think it is needed to. They have to justify their position and be true to their position .
This culture of submission is not going to take us anywhere and we have to tackle this to prevent the current crisis and many more that would come before us in years to come.