Leadership’s role has been the difference between life and death in fight against Covid19

More than 69000 dead & over 12,75,000 infected in the world due to coronavirus.

These are bone chilling numbers which are set to get worse as America and Europe become the new epicentres of coronavirus. In these unprecedented and harrowing times, it is very important that countries have strong and swift acting leaderships as any delay in action can and has proved fatal.

Dithering and indecisive leaders and governments have been catastrophic for their people as we have seen in Italy, Spain and now America, which have a combined death toll of over 45000. European countries and their leaders dilly dallied on whether to have a complete or a partial lockdown as it would have inconvenienced their people for whom socialising has been a way of life. Thus, prior to a full lockdown, Italy had only a partial lockdown of few municipalities in northern Italy. But that proved to be a fatal blunder as the community spread engulfed everyone and the body bags kept on piling with chilling monotony.

Alexander Edwards, an expert in immunology from the University of Reading, said that there was a lot of spread before people realised. He further said that in most European countries people assumed that the outbreak “was a problem elsewhere,” and such initial attitude led to the fast spreading of the virus in places such as Italy and Spain.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed only on 9th March by Italy. Edward reckons that “Italy was a bit behind” in comparison to Wuhan, China, where the Virus originated was shut in mid January. Michael Tildesley epidemiologist at the Warwick University said “part of it is also culural.” According to him China saw a higher level of compliance with the lockdown measures as compared to Europe.

Social behaviour also contributed to the spread as every Sunday young Italians go to see their grandparents, kiss them, go to church and have meals together, according to Edwards. In America, the President dismissed the virus as a flu and by the time the gravity of situation dawned upon him, the damage had been done. America is currently battling with close to 2,75,000 testing positive and over 6000 dead.

Unlike in these countries, Modi was quick to enforce the lockdown in Bharat. He was quick to read the situation on the ground and opted for the hard measure after gauging the mood of the 130 crore people, majority of whom responded to his clarion call of ringing bells, blowing counches and beating thaalis.

Half way into the 21-day lockdown in the largest democracy of the world with 1.3 billion people, Bharat continues in its pursuit to defeat the lethal Coronavirus. The Cental government and the State governments need to be complemented for enforcing the lockdown, identifying hot spots, isolating and sanitizing virus infected areas, contact tracing and taking all other measures to check large scale spreading of the virus as that will be fatal in a country like ours.

No praise is enough for our front line soldiers and Generals(doctors, nurses & health workers) who are risking their own lives and that of their families to fight this zoonotic virus which has its origins in Wuhan, China. With just around 3000 cases in a country of 130 crore people, the lockdown has come as a saviour for our country teeming with millions.

The decisiveness of the country’s top leadership with the Prime Minister leading from the front needs to be complimented. There has been criticism of the immediate lockdown and its immediate aftermath where there was a mass exodus of labourers and workers to the hinterland but this is a small price to pay for a national cause where national interest and the lives of 130 crore people are more important than anything else.

If the lockdown had been delayed by a week or ten days, we would have had the community spread and then all hell would have broken loose. The same pseudo-seculars, Lutyens Delhi journalists and leftist liberals who opposed the lockdown on the 24th March would have teared into the government for not locking down earlier.

Rich and flourishing economies of the world which boasted of the best health infrastructure have been brought to their knees by the Covid-19 pandemic. For a poor country like ours with minimal health care facilities for such a big population, ‘lockdown’ was and is the most effective deterrent against Coronavirus.

The timing of the lockdown is of utmost importance and its late or selective imposition has been detrimental. Spain, Italy and New York are cases in point where lockdown was not done timely and also not enforced quickly. This virus will not differentiate between the rich and the poor or between any religion.

The mullahs and the maulvis and other self styled scholars will not be able to save their followers through congregations and then absconding from the law as the Coronavirus will puncture their lungs if they keep hiding and don’t get timely medical attention.

This lockdown of 21 days may not be enough for a huge country like Bharat with its burgeoning population bursting at the seams and innumerable cluster areas together with narrow lanes and alleys, not to mention the biggest slum in Asia, Dharavi which has given a scare with 2 people testing positive.

It is very likely that the lockdown could be extended – thanks to the criminal act performed by the Tablighi Jamaat – which has spiked the numbers by almost 30% besides putting the lives of thousands at risk. It could be extended and the PM may be trying to gauge the public mood again as he called for 9 minutes of candle lighting, diya or mobile flash lighting by everyone at 9 PM on Sunday in social isolation.

This exercise of collective consciousness could lift the spirit of all countrymen, women and children in these trying times but the government needs to do more to assuage the fears of the poor, migrant workers and the middle class whose lives have been thrown out of gear.

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About the Author

Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine