DailyPost 1911

COVID-19 has shown cracks in a variety of systems, infrastructure, thought processes and the inbuilt resilience of the developed countries. It has also shown that the countries, who have somehow managed natural and man made crises, though not belonging to the development world, have serious inherent limitations, when it comes to a pandemic of this nature. When everything bursts at its seams, what do you do? We had decided the boundaries of even our crises and lived happily with it. Nothing had challenged all our resources at the same time, while the world came to a standstill. This was not in anybody’s imagination, when rescue can be provided limited to the locally available resources. How does equity, a democratic concept work?  Vaccines are living examples, a delicate thread between life and death.

The democratic leadership reacted in a manner of outright unpreparedness, to outright denial, some countries challenging the virus  & brazening it out. It shows how shabby democratic leadership can be. Democracy in the art of managing difference and disagreements and finally coming to a common solution for the larger good of the largest people, either by majority and best by consensus. Awareness and consensus building have been the sine qua non of democratic existence. What does this mean? Is it limited to only conventional civic issues? We have not been able to build a consensus on the utility of vaccines, when it is a scientifically proven fact. Vaccine efficacy has not been a matter of debate, since the vaccines entered the health / medical arena. The health intelligence, infrastructure, protocols, SOPs, and even the welfare the of medical frontline workers, our democracies have been able to handle only in the most ad hoc manner.

That there would be protests against COVID-19 restrictions is something surreal. If political leaders and people’s representatives cannot sway public opinion for the most right thing, why should we have them at all. Can we not have one single thing where we can have complete consensus. Everything cannot be political debate and politicking. Thousands in Brussels protest against COVID-19 restrictions in the wake of the emergence of the worrying Omicron variant. Germany witnessed protests of similar nature, in various cities including Hamburg and Dusseldorf. ”No to compulsory vaccination!” was written on self-made placards. London has the same story, in the midst of the record-breaking infection numbers for the third consecutive day. Protests are happening across Europe.

Have we lost the plot? Are democracies not able to meet the COVID-19 challenge, not only at the infrastructure and service levels but also at the level of democratic governance, awareness and consensus building. Only governance can pull up democracies to a different level, which the western world has proved in a variety of areas. Why strict laws and guidelines with regards to COVID-19 were not enforced in the manner done for a variety of laws. The person is putting the life at risk of any number of people. Is it not criminal? Where enforcement has to happen, why have the governments gone in for advisories and requests? Is this way governance needs to happen in an existential situation. The behaviour of the powers that be also, becomes a role model, to disregard the restrictions / law. Has democracy weakened during the COVID-19 crisis years?


Sanjay Sahay

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