Tuesday, Oct 20, 2020 | Last Update : 02:33 AM IST

195th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra1443409114960338084 Andhra Pradesh7192566588755981 Karnataka6406615157829286 Tamil Nadu6088555529389653 Uttar Pradesh4031013468595864 Delhi2827522506135401 West Bengal2603242287555017 Odisha222734190080912 Kerala204242131048772 Telangana1992761701091163 Bihar178882164537888 Assam169985139977655 Gujarat1332191132403417 Rajasthan1288591077181441 Haryana1237821059901307 Madhya Pradesh117588932382207 Punjab107096840253134 Chhatisgarh9856566860777 Jharkhand7770964515661 Jammu and Kashmir69832495571105 Uttarakhand4533233642555 Goa3107125071386 Puducherry2548919781494 Tripura2412717464262 Himachal Pradesh136799526152 Chandigarh112128677145 Manipur9791760263 Arunachal Pradesh8649623014 Nagaland5768469311 Meghalaya5158334343 Sikkim2707199431 Mizoram178612880
  Opinion   Oped  29 Mar 2020  Why PM Modi should make a call to Naveen Patnaik

Why PM Modi should make a call to Naveen Patnaik

The writer is currently guest faculty (French) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and her doctoral thesis is on Indo-French bilateral relations.
Published : Mar 29, 2020, 8:35 am IST
Updated : Mar 29, 2020, 8:35 am IST

The Odisha CM would have some valuable insights on how to plan for a disaster

Migrant workers line up outside the Anand Vihar bus terminal in New Delhi to leave for their villages in the wake of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown announced by prime minister Narendra Modi. On March 28, tens of thousands of migrant workers fought and shoved their way onto buses organised by Uttar Pradesh to go to their home towns. (AFP)
 Migrant workers line up outside the Anand Vihar bus terminal in New Delhi to leave for their villages in the wake of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown announced by prime minister Narendra Modi. On March 28, tens of thousands of migrant workers fought and shoved their way onto buses organised by Uttar Pradesh to go to their home towns. (AFP)

 As the nation grapples with the terrible problem of migrant workers walking from Delhi to villages in UP or Bihar, not to mention workers from Telangana packed like sardines in container trucks, one harks back to the extraordinary measures taken by Odisha, one of the poorest states in the country, during the humanitarian crisis triggered by cyclone Fani in May 2019.

It was a textbook case of how the might of the state can be used to mitigate the suffering of common people: The state government built storm shelters, sent over 2 million text messages, used over 40,000 voluntary workers, public address systems, the police, public transport to warn people to move quickly to the shelters as a cyclone with windspeeds of 175-185 kmph was going to hit the coast. And it worked! The evacuation was meticulously planned and the government, which had learnt hard lessons from past tragedies, moved a million people to safety with great speed.

 

Contrast that with what the central government has done: the coronavirus lockdown was announced -- rather dramatically, without taking stock of the scale of human suffering it would cause to the poor and marginalised -- to begin at the stroke of midnight on March 23. How could a small and poor state manage to evacuate a million to safety with less than 20 deaths whereas the prime minister of the nation with all the resources of the country available to him has not been able to evacuate a similar number of migrant workers to safety before the lockdown was announced? What is the lesson there?

Does he care?

As India watches thousands of migrants walking back home without food, water and money, the only conclusion anyone can come to is that the prime minister cares little about the people he governs. What prevented him from calling in the army and ordering the use of their transport to take the migrants back home? Even the 'corona package' of Rs 1.7 lakh crore was announced after the lockdown and not before. He also found time to call a video-conference meeting of SAARC nations to fight the virus and even announced a corpus fund to this end. It is only now, after the migrant labour crisis, that the Union home secretary has written to all the states and union territories to take immediate steps to provide adequate support, including food and shelter, to migrant agricultural labour, industrial and other unorganised sector workers during the 21-day national lockdown. One may say better late than never, but the damage has already been done. The strategy of isolation and social distancing to contain the coronavirus outbreak has been completely knocked off course.

 

Perhaps the prime minister should have consulted the able chief minister of Odisha, who came in for praise from the UN for his government’s efforts to prevent loss of lives and prevent human suffering. The Odisha government had drafted lists of vulnerable people, employed hundreds of power boats, and truckloads of food and bottled water was delivered to the shelters. That is how a caring government responds to an emergency. The central government does not have to look abroad for an example to follow, it exists right here within our shores.

The writer is a former Business Editor of Deccan Chronicle.

Tags: pm modi, coronanvirus lockdown, migrant workers, odisha fani, naveen patnaik, disaster planning