he situation that most world leaders are in today is comparable to that of a lucky idiot stumbling upon a sack full of gold coins. It is enviable and perhaps deserves applause similar to the 5pm one that many of us Indians gave health workers and mediapersons the other day at ‘Janata Curfew’. The threat is such that it is difficult to guess which citizen will be able to keep his/her nerve in the pressure cooker situation that is evolving around the world. One leader who has been quite volatile is seated at the head of the most powerful nation and the oldest democracy of the world.
US President Donald Trump has now come out stating that America need not shut down for long considering the economic impact such a closure would have. He expressed genuine worries about how people could be depressed and pushed to suicide in a situation where they will not be working and will have to spend their entire time indoors. It is indeed a tough time for people who are used to working and enjoying it too, unlike us Indians. For them, to be shut indoors and out of social contact would certainly be morbid. But people are, of course, embracing the change in their own ways falsely scared the bigger threat is waiting outdoors. However, Prez Trump feels the threat the economy faces is bigger than what CoVID-19 poses. In other words, the cure is more painful than the ailment itself. He believes deaths from CoVID-19 would be fewer than those caused by economic turmoil. Of course, the US President’s sudden reaction adds credence to reports that the virus is indeed manufactured in China to wrest economic advantage from the rest of the world, especially as the Sino-US trade war threatened to reset the red dragon’s ‘peaceful rise’. Trump appears confident that his country can defeat the virus without placing the entire US in quarantine. He pointed out that he proposes to specifically isolate those places where the virus has tightened its grip and let the rest of the country function normally. It appears to be a very logical approach. Especially when seen in the situation prevailing in India. In states like Delhi and Orissa, the stringent police action against common citizens venturing out of home for various important and unavoidable reasons is highly condemnable and speaks of authoritarianism. There certainly is no need to implement such lock downs. That too, without the Central or state governments considering the plight of the daily wage earners who have to work to eat.
While Trump’s proposal seems very balanced, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 8 pm address of Tuesday 24 March 2020, has ordered a complete nationwide lockdown for 21 days. None in the establishment is willing to consider the hardships that the common citizens are facing due to such outrageous decisions.
In the last address to the nation, the PM appeared to be trying to get Indians to mimic the Italians when he asked everyone to applaud the health workers and other essential services providers, including media personnel, as a mark of respect for their selfless efforts. At that instance, he appeared to have read the pulse of the nation wrong and also reaffirmed the fact that one man’s porridge is another man’s poison. It must be hoped that our leader does not look for solutions to this crisis from abroad although he uses them as references to initiate an entirely local solution. It was evident from the way the people, especially those in urban areas, responded to the PM’s call that much will be lost in translation to the real world. Defiance is the norm with a large segment of this society still and there are people who would desperately need to earn to survive. Imagine an able bodied bread winner watching his children sleep empty stomach for three weeks. This, as Prez Trump has said, might lead people to acute depression. Looking at it in another way, that mental condition could lead people to commit suicide. Or it could also compel people to loot and plunder and go berserk. That would be the final straw to snap. Once if that happens, it would be well nigh impossible for the law and order machinery of this country to bring back normalcy.
While all those in power are certainly enjoying these moments of great unquestioned power because the average man on the street, without understanding what might befall him, is supporting every such totalitarian step, the nation could be headed for a big disaster.
Now, with the discovery of another new virus in China named Hanta, which has already claimed one life, the future seems well planned.