Indi is a powerful democracy, or at least it used to be. It gave citizens the power to ask questions, demand accountability and seek responsibility from the government for its actions and more often than not, we as citizens have let truth prevail over agenda and humanity prevail over politics. However, at this point, we feel helpless, hopeless and despondent. Not because we can’t raise our voices, but because they’re not being heard. In retrospect, it wasn’t only the citizens that held uptight the democracy of the country- it was the powerful pillars- media, Supreme Court and other independent bodies that made an effort to ensure the ruling government is not getting away with whatever they’re doing. What has changed, however, are these institutions- the ones who then worked as the public’s resort to the government’s play, now act as their very own puppets. Let’s call these out one by one.
The country is fighting the deadly second wave of the virus and while any rational citizen would expect its government to take actions to fight the crisis and come up with solutions and aids, our very own leader is busy campaigning for elections in a state. Oh, that too without following the required protocols for the pandemic. While common people are being heavily fined for not wearing masks in their public vehicles alone, the national leader is addressing the crowds of thousands without masks and social distancing. The national media, sensibly, should’ve dragged the government through the mud for their actions because these people are the idols the citizens look up to. Instead, they’re busy covering the political rationales and campaigns. Has the priority changed this much that we’ve stopped caring about the people altogether?
States have imposed heavy fines for driving without masks alone in their vehicles because apparently, they are a public place. Delhi Court has also been explicitly vocal in favour of the decision. However, the rallies that are being conducted with such large public gatherings and almost no COVID-19 protocols being followed, why are they not fines? Why the Supreme leaders that have been addressing the large crowds without masks being charged and fined? Why is the Supreme Court not taking action against the Union leaders for apparently urging people to attend rallies and vote in large numbers? So, the sections 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Court that are at play in the case of common people do not apply to these politicians? I guess the laws only apply to us common people in this country. And sometimes, these laws just make no sense either. For example, couples that live together stay in each other’s presence 24*7. How is not wearing a mask while driving with each other scientifically contagious? Why is it drawing such heavy fines? Well, when logic seems to defy, more often than not it is politics that takes over. By the looks of it, this might just be the government’s attempt at generating revenue in the face of a pandemic, like has been witnessed a number of times now.
Well, looks like the Election Commission isn’t adamant about staying true to its priorities either. How else would you explain its silence over the non-conformity to the COVID-19 protocols by political parties for the longest time? At a time when many states have not only imposed night curfews but imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus, Election Commission chose to impose restrictions from 7 pm to 5 am which all of us can figure the sensibility of, that too very, very late. At a time when the country is registering more than 2 lakh cases every day, the Election Commission deemed fit issuing a warning to the parties. “It is advisable that political leaders/candidates who have the incumbent duty to control the spread of COVID, demonstrate by their personal example and nudge all supporters in the beginning rally, meetings and campaign itself to wear masks, use sanitisers and put in place crowd control measures as per social distancing norms,” the letter from Election Commission released a few days ago reads. Well apparently, the right to health and life of a common man is less exalted, sacred and precious than that of the right to canvassing and campaigning for a candidate. So much for being the administrative body of the country!
Well, looking at the track that the ruling government has set, I don’t think it would be too hard to stop expecting ideal behaviour. But what about the government’s inadequacy in action and underlying lethargy to improve the health facilities of the country in the middle of a pandemic? Are we supposed to turn a blind eye to that too? A 101 days after the first two vaccines were approved in India, the central government decided to waive the requirement of bridging trials in the country for vaccines approved in Europe, Japan, and the US etc. Why was the same decision not undertaken in December last year when the Pfizer mRNA vaccine applied for it? Looks like we don’t get answers for actions anymore. Why is the government trying to get manufacturing started of the Bharat Biotech’s CoVaxin at a Rs 904 crore vaccine plant in Chengalpattu, three months after the vaccine’s regulatory nod? No wonder the country is facing a vaccine shortage. Did the government of the country assume that the pandemic was over or was it just lethargic to undertake any particular action in this regard? Because the timeline of the decisions that should’ve been taken months ago iterate a story pointing at these lines only.
So, why is the Supreme Court silent? Why is it not asking the government the right questions and holding them accountable for their unpreparedness for the pandemic? Why is the Supreme Court not questioning the government on the utilisation, or rather non-utilisation, of their very prestigious PM CARES fund which was evidently established a public charitable trust? At a time when the country is facing a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders or even the basic facilities required for the treatment of the virus that has claimed lakhs of lives as of yet, shouldn’t the fund that apparently stands for “Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund” be used? Oh, fun fact, recently, in a response to an RTI application on PM CARES Fund, the government said that the PM CARES Fund is a body “owned by, controlled by and established by the government of India”. The reply further stated that even then the fund is not a public authority as it is “not at all financed by the appropriate government and administered by private individuals as trustees” This response is in clear violation of the law laid down by the Delhi high court in the NSE case because if ‘ownership and control’ are with the government, that alone is sufficient for the fund to be a public authority. Did we forget to mention they fundraised a total amount of Rs 3076.62 crore in 2020 to fight the virus? Well, looks like the PM does not care. Oh, and if you were wondering why the rate of growth of active cases in the election states is not as high as would be expected by looking at the current crowds and COVID-19 protocols, well, it is because these states that are conducting elections and holding these rallies have evidently dropped the number of tests being conducted at a very significant rate, as per data available publicly through various notable sources. No tests mean no cases, right? So, the fundamental right of living and dying with dignity is so easily being revoked and the Apex Court doesn’t even a bat an eye on it? How fair is this system of putting blinds on people’s eyes without even letting them know about it? Oh, and if the data is publicly available and you and I can question it, why can the Supreme Court not? Well, I’m sure you guessed the answer by now.