The gap between political pronouncements and action shows beating Covid-19 needs more than ‘do gaz ki doori’ slogans.
The real ‘Delhi daredevils’ must be the pandemic-strategy thought-leaders in the ruling dispensation in the national capital territory (NCT). At a time when Covid-19 infections are rising in Delhi, as is the positivity rate, the NCT government has decided to run buses at full capacity, obviating any scope for distancing. To be sure, it is a ‘damned if you do, damned you don’t’ situation for the government. Restricting the number of passengers to allow for distancing has meant that the bus-stops got crowded—thereby increasing transmission risks—while passengers had to put up with long delays. The problem, however, is of the NCT government’s own creation; while it has been busy giving water subsidies to even those Delhiites who can pay for their water consumption, it has not added much to its transport corporation’s fleet. At 6,595 buses, the fleet has only about half the number needed to cater for a population of 2 crore.
That said, why blame the Delhi government alone? It seems that the authorities and political leadership across the country accord only lip-service to distancing.
For the Bihar assembly polls, the Election Commission of India eventually let indoor campaign rallies be twice as large as that originally allowed, and there was virtually no limit on the size of the crowd in outdoor venues. Pictures from the rallies of various political leaders, including the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav and even the prime minister (for the BJP-JD-U coalition), showed that distancing was hardly feasible, let alone enforced, at the venues. The gap between political pronouncements and action shows beating Covid-19 needs more than ‘do gaz ki doori’ slogans.