Unwarranted Panic

THE decision of the state government to invoke the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 appears to be a cruel joke on Goa when our state is already reeling under the pangs of economic meltdown. The country inherited the particular act from the British Raj; the law was enforced in India at a time when Goa was not part of India. Goa was incorporated as a territory of the Union of India on December 19, 1961 upon its Liberation. Pre-Liberation laws in force in the rest of India had to be extended to Goa, which was done through the Goa, Daman & Diu Laws Regulation No 1 of 1961 and No 2 of 1962. Certain other legislations were extended to Goa through special notifications by the central government. It has been realised that the Epidemic Diseases Act was never ever extended to Goa. How could Health Minister Vishwajit Rane issue any directions under a law which had not been enforced in the state? Who misled or misguided Rane to rush to invoke the particular act? Even if the central government has issued advisories, the state government ought to have examined them – with their pros and cons – without getting into a panic mode. The state government should have realised that our Goa Health Act, 1985 has all the powers, which could have been invoked without such dramatic announcement to deal with the current health emergency. The invocation of the Epidemic Diseases Act has only depressed the mood of the state, and will cause further loss to the state economy.


World At Mercy Of A Virus

MOST of us must never have  experienced during our lifetime the occurrence, spread and devastation caused by a virus as deadly as coronavirus (COVID-19), which in the short span of time has created worldwide panic, and spread like wildfire infecting several thousands of people and killing at least 5,000 people in several countries. While most countries have heeded the alarm bells and responded positively to contain the spread of the killer virus after the World Health Organistaion declared COVID-19 to be pandemic, there appears to be little hope of the virus loosening its stranglehold on humans. Scientists are still working round the clock to combat the strain of the new virus, but are yet to develop a vaccine. As of now, the situation worldwide is both fluid and serious, even as several analysts have diagnosed the situation as a doomsday-like scenario with catastrophic and disastrous consequences for public health, loss of lives and the inevitable collapse of the world economy. As helpless mortals, we  can only hope and pray that the tsunami-like catastrophe will abate soon and nature will come to the rescue by restoring the equilibrium of the  devastated and polluted environment soon and without adverse effects.


India Must Act Fast On COVID-19

AMIDST worries about how to halt COVID-19 transmission, Indian Council of Medical Research has warned  that  India  has  30  days’  time  to  halt  the  onset  of  Stage-III  or  community  transmission  of  the  coronavirus.   India  has  no  time  to  lose,  and  the  country  must  take  steps  for  wider  testing.   Wider  testing  and  quick  access  to  testing  facilities  will  halt  community  transmission  in  the  initial  stages itself. For  a  population   of  1.4  billion  the  current   rate  of  testing  is  not   sufficient. Even  though  the  government   has  a  large  number  of  test  kits  and  ordered  for  more,  India  has  not   performed  sufficient   number  of  tests  so  far.   It  is  mandatory  that  test  results  must  come out quickly  but  in  many  places in the country the results take at least two days. We must take inspiration from  the  will  and  resilience  manifested  by  the  Chinese  and  South  Korean  governments   in  combating  the  outbreak. South Korea is conducting 10,000 tests a day. China set up makeshift clinics that prevented overcrowding  in  hospitals  and  it  helped  to  conduct  tests  quickly.   In both these countries patients cannot slip away. China   enforced home quarantine   for over five   crore people. The  Chinese  government   was  forced  to  take  many  revolutionary  and  strict  measures.  Earlier,   there had been 15, 000 new cases of corona infection every day.  By determined and strenuous efforts,   the number dropped considerably. India faces many   problems in its attempts to combat the virus transmission. Hospitals do not have adequate doctors and accessories.  Functioning of helplines falls short of expectations. Doctors are not able to send more patients for testing. There  is  an  urgent  need  for  taking prevention measures on a war footing.


Graft Eroding Indian Polity

CORRUPTION poses an intractable danger to the society because it is a crime without conscience. There is a universal agreement that greed breeds corruption. In a country like India, bribery is more perilous than poverty and casteism. Rapid strides taken by a nation in various fields is destroyed by the vice. It steals the poor, eats away at governance, hurts morality and crushes trust. The fight against the age-old immorality should be a long-drawn one. Recently, the Karnataka High Court came down heavily on corruption calling it an “uncontrollable societal menace” while upholding the sentence of simple imprisonment of four years on a village accountant who had accepted a bribe of Rs 1000  for a death certificate from a villager in 2010 and had approached  the HC after being convicted by the trial court. “Courts should be awake and alert” were the strong words used by the honourable Justice. The appellant passed away while the case was pending, but the family of the deceased was keen on pursuing the case. Sentencing must avoid assumptions; social standing of an accused should not come in the way of just punishment. It can be said that people’s indifference is the best breeding ground for corruption and nepotism. Many government servants and private sector employees possessing some sort of ‘power’ turn to corrupt practices. Power does not corrupt people in the true sense; it is the people who corrupt power. Since corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency, the treatment for the ‘corruption disease’ may as well be transparency, although it has to come from the very top. The government should amend the Prevention of Corruption Act on a consistent basis. Prompt corrective actions must be put in place to expedite graft cases. Lokayuktas in some states began with a bang; but their pro-activism is not in the open. Less said the better about the Lokpal.