Well, as you might be thinking “TEN ZEROES” in a sequence is a good phone number to have isn’t it? But sadly, this number does not add up to anything because while recording and maintaining databases, only zeros are used to denote missing entries.
Surprisingly, in lists of Covid tested individuals in the districts of Bihar, we can see these zeros they keep popping up against names, as claimed by the Indian Express’s new investigation report.
The following data is to be taken into account while drawing your conclusions of how effectively the governments have been making a fool of us. There are two possibilities that this mismanagement is because of either bad data recording, maintaining and analysing or simply recording illegitimate data to deceive the humans of this country.
1. In Jamui’s Barhat Primary Health Centre, 0000000000 or ten zeros have been recorded as the “mobile number” of as many as 28 people out of 48 people who were tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease as of January 16.
2. Ten zeros (0000000000) are further used as the phone number of 46 people of 83 people tested on January 25.
3. The same has also been done with 73 records of 150 entries on January 16 at Jamui Sadar which is another primary health care centre in the district.
Manipulating existing data, collecting the wrong data, recording illegitimate numbers is something highly unacceptable and mischievous, especially in the times of this pandemic when all the policies and further plans of action depend on the data we have. Not only this, it goes beyond my understanding that how can the officials siphon off the phone numbers of tested people, something which is extremely crucial and is also a key tool to track and verify those tested. Needles to say this window dressing by the authorities has been done with the aim to meet testing targets and draw a happier and wider pretentious image of the government working and stability. Another possibility of this lowkey fraud with people’s trust could also be to siphon off profits from unused testing kits and enjoy the benefits by personal gains, perhaps to enjoy a vacation in Goa? Is it?
According to the same report, the staff responsible for entering and managing data at the district headquarters turn the fingers towards the staff at Public Health care units at the ground level. They have thrown claims stating that in order to upload and validate the data in the system the officials are forced to enter 10 zeroes.
This technicality can be considered and the officials could’ve been given a benefit of doubt, but..but..but, the story does not end here. The sheer scale of such entries have disrupted the entire claim of the malignancies being because of lack of data or technical glitches. The numbers of such entries are magnum even in the case of PHCs located in towns such as Jamui Sadar. And, needless to say, nobody in the world, except in a few extreme situations, is living without a phone number. Are you ready to believe that? Well, I am not.
Simply, if you think that’s all, you’re mistaken.
The question here is just not about the wrong data but also no data.
1. The contact number columns in Sheikhpura’s data file have 205 of 245 entries for Antigen tests blank “contacts”.
2. January 28 records of Barbigha had 56 on 100 blank columns entries.
3. Then we also have people on the lists whose names and phone numbers are actually genuine but they have not reported of having any tests.
Manoj Kumar, a student Sikandara, said, “How can they use my number? Who is doing this fraud?” when he was made aware about his name and contact details being listed among those tested at Jamui’s Sikandara PHC on January 18.
On deeper investigations it was found out that a survey team had visited the local regions and collected the names and numbers of the residents. Is this what we’re doing now?
The authorities have still not given any official explanation yet for the faulty data. Perhaps they don’t have any.
The problems raised here are just not problems but massive blunders. This is not just about taking a few numbers from here to there or about recording stuff that is not true, but more or less about how low can the beaurocrats at all levels stoop to make personal gains out of a situation as precarious and condescending as the coronavirus pandemic. Even a little humanity left is the question to ask.
It is also of no second thoughts to assume that the above states situations are just one of many and a grain in a warehouse. Evaluating, estimating, and even determining the extent to similars irregularities in data handling and recording seems to be vast beyond our imaginative and intelligent capabilities. Such strings of glaring irregularities that go against the basic data protocols is very well going to make people think twice about sharing their data even with the registered government officials now. The situation casts inexplicable doubts on the credibility of testing data.