Last updated on: March 28, 2020 at 9:09 pm IST
It has not been an easy decision to suspend our print edition from March 25, 2020, but times are difficult, different and unprecedented. Because the media remains the primary channel of communication between the Government and the people, the decision was even harder. But prioritizing even one human life thereby the existence and survival of the human race cannot be compromised under any circumstances. Fortunately, today we have the options of a vast array of technologies that enables communication ~ although we are aware that the majority of our people continue to be denied and deprived the privilege of technological advances. This once again reiterates Governments to enact inclusive policies and implement them without compromise.
Governments must also redefine the entire concept of development. When food and medical supplies become unreachable to the most vulnerable sections of our society ~ irrespective of colour, creed, race, religion and all such diversities ~ the very question of development that our Governments tout must be asked and answered. When communities lead in coming to the succor of the most vulnerable sections of society by way of providing food particularly and then slowly the our Government wakes up to the existence of such sections and scrambles to announce economic and other packages, we must question the priorities, efficiency and effectiveness of our Government ~ in fact the leadership any Government is meant and obliged to provide.
In these trying times, it must also be said that our state Government is trying its utmost to contain the threat of the novel Coronavirus. This is indisputable ~ but this exercise has also exposed the slip between the lip and the cup of the Government and governance that should have been tended to as a matter of course. If the welfare and interest of the most vulnerable sections of our society were the top priorities of Government and governance from the very beginning, right now, at this crucial time, no Good Samaritan would have been vulnerable to the virus lurking in the corner by risking their lives to provide food to the homeless, daily wage earners, stranded people and those caught in the crossfire of poverty and discrimination hence disadvantages thereof juxtaposed with a very deadly virus.
If our healthcare delivery system was made robust right from the very beginning, we shouldn’t have had the problem of scarcity of face masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the public and our health and medical personal. And here we will not even talk about ventilators and other equipment necessary to save lives. But somehow healthcare and medical delivery systems have never been a priority ~ in terms of development ~ for our Government, has it? At this moment, we will not talk about food, safe drinking water, sanitation and education, which are fundamental to sustainable and sustaining development.
True, the whole world was, and continues to be, unprepared for the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Much as the rest of the globe, we too are groping in the dark and fighting an invisible foe despite which the Government is going all out in all possible precautionary and preventive measures. We cannot find fault with the Government in its efforts. However, that the most vulnerable sections of society are made more vulnerable because of their inaccessibility to food due to a non-inclusive economic system is a tragedy that Government should have tended to a long time ago. However, that our health and medical delivery system ~ both public and private ~ is simply not geared to cater to possibilities of epidemics and pandemics speaks for Government’s gross neglect of our health sector. This is crucial considering that health is a primary and integral factor of development.
Hopefully, our Governments will learn a vital lesson from this pandemic. Hopefully, this pandemic will make us refocus on what really matters in life. Hopefully, this pandemic will make both the Government and the people more human. Hopefully, the Government will reclaim leadership and focus on things that really matter to the people ~ as opposed to things that only matter to the Government and the political class. Meanwhile, there is much for the people to contemplate on as regards the politicians and political parties we vote to power ~ and, their priorities. Right now we have to make do with whatever we have and what we have is a Government trying its best to fight off this pandemic. And it needs our support and cooperation. Please abide by the Government’s advice ~ stay safe.