We are hearing criticism of Modi’s actions from various sources and invariable support from numerous Modi-bhakts & paid media. I have not read or heard about an action plan which should have been effected to counter COVID-19. By comparing the ground actions with the plan explained below, you can assess the performance of our government.
15 Feb: All Party Meeting
The government should have held an all-party meeting in mid-Feb to discuss an action plan to counter the threat of COVID-19.
Following Major Points Would Have Emerged & Been Approved
· An all-party action team at the centre would have been created. It would have taken the best brains of India to tackle the medical and economic crises.
· India is too big a country to have one standard order for all. Lockdowns should have been ordered specific location wise by the states.
· Vulnerable industries should have been closed down.
· The battle against COVID-19 would have to be fought at the state level. Centre should have provided the following support:
· Immediately clear all GST dues of the states.
· Provide economic support to all the industries so that not a single worker got laid off for 4 months & was paid a salary of 50% where there was no work. Centre is not there to just collect GST but also to help industry during crisis.
· Wherever labourers wanted to go back home, they should have been supported, if required, through special trains from major urban centres to UP, Bihar, MP, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh & Orissa, the major poor states supplying migrant labourers to reach home before 01 Apr.
· Rural areas should have had no lockdown. All agricultural activities should have continued with precautions.
· Liquor manufacture & sale should have continued. It makes economic sense.
· The country should have begun gearing up to fight the threat by preparing the medical infrastructure & begun tests, isolation and treatment by first week of March. Approximately one lac crore should have been allotted for this. All these tasks should also have been done at the state level.
· Defence Forces should have been utilized to help in food distribution to the needy.
· All slums would have been tested on priority and help provided in terms of food & money. The dwellers would have been allowed to continue limited economic activity.
· Allocation for MGNREGA would have been increased by Rs 50,000 crore.
· An Urban Employment Guarantee Ordinance (UEGA) would have been brought in for one year with a budget of Rs one lac crore to provide employment to urban labour in infrastructure projects.
Daily & Weekly Meetings
Daily & weekly meetings would have been held, with suitable attendance to ensure plans are implemented smoothly and any unforeseen contingencies are tackled on priority.
· The centre would have not had to spend more than Rs 4 lakh crore to tide over the crisis. It would have entailed borrowing as well as printing of money. The country would have got back on track by mid-Jun.
· The Rs 20000 crore Central Vista program and plan to buy Rs 8000 crore worth of aircrafts for the PM would have been put on hold indefinitely.
· No PM CARES fund would have been created.
· Government expenditure on media would have been terminated for 2 years.
· Defence procurements would have been put on hold.
· The benefit of the lowered cost of petrol & diesel would have been passed to the consumers, in a time like this when incomes would have reduced.
· MGNREGA & UEGA would have given money in the hands of the poor & the projects undertaken would have generated growth by creating the multiplier effect. Thus demand creation as well as GDP growth would have been achieved.
Some Major Political Actions
· There would have been no “Namaste Trump”.
· There would have been no toppling of MP government in March. It could have been done after Sep 20.
· Politicians would have been seen genuinely helping the medical staff, the poor and the needy in the country.
· There would have been no Hindu-Muslim debates on media.
Democracy is a great way of running states and countries. I wish we understood the spirit of democracy and worked accordingly. An infantry battalion is not a democratic setup. If a battalion has to undertake an operation, we do the following:
· Create a broad plan for the operation.
· Hold a conference to allocate & explain the responsibilities.
· Provide whatever help that is needed by the subordinates to help them accomplish the task well.
· Incorporate changes, if any, in the plan based on suggestions from the subordinates.
· Rehearse actions to resolve any unforeseen bottle-necks.
· Remain alive to anything not going okay once the operation has begun and make all efforts to restore the situation.
Unfortunately, we as a nation, are witnessing a mass exodus of migrant labourers walking long distances without help or hope. We are presenting some confusing long term plans for industries & farmers & not realizing that the crisis is now!