May 5, 2021

The Second Wave

Written By: Maj Gen Dhruv C Katoch

Two years of Modi 2.0 should have been a joyous occasion. There was much to celebrate about, from a turning around of the economy after the havoc caused across the world by the Chinese SARS-CoV-2 virus, which caused the Covid 19 pandemic. After a year of sustained effort, the pandemic was contained, despite the numerous challenges that a country of India’s size and diversity faced. That, by itself, was a stupendous achievement.

The internal security situation across the country has also seen vast improvement, especially in the Union Territory of J&K and the affected states of Northeast India. In the areas impacted by Left Wing Extremism, the overall capacity of the Maoists to carry out targeted attacks against the security forces and the civil population has reduced, but as the recent ambush on CRPF personnel in early April in Chattisgarh’sBijapur district has shown, the Maoists retain the ability to carry out well coordinated attacks on specific targets of their choosing. Obviously, there is a requirement to improve tactical responses by operating troops, but more importantly, the need for good front line leadership is something which the CRPF desperately needs.

These two years also saw the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Farm Laws, which have the potential to bring in another Green Revolution. That there was opposition to both these legislations was expected as certain vested interests were badly impacted. Another important legislation passed was making instant triple talaq a punishable offence. This will go a long way in providing gender equity to Muslim women in India. The focus on gender, education, health, development of infrastructure, etc is but a part of the vast progress made in many spheres in the last two years.

The second wave of the pandemic appears to have caught both the centre and the states by surprise. The situation on 1 March presented a rosy picture, with the number of cases having decreased to the lowest level. It was perhaps assumed that this trend would continue. However, from the very next day itself, we saw a small surge in cases. A one-days surge obviously is not something that excites suspicion, but when the trend did not reverse for a week, the bureaucrats responsible to monitor the Covid impact should have raised the red flag. This was not a Black Swan event which hit the nation with sudden ferocity. It was a Grey Rhino. The evidence of what could happen was available and should have been foreseen by the secretaries working in the health department in the States and in the Centre and they should have advised their Ministers accordingly.

Now, a massive effort is required by the nation as a whole to rid ourselves of this scourge. Let us plan for a year without election rallies, religious festivals, bandhs and dharnas, and private gatherings which are larger than 50 people. These gathering too should be carried out with all protocols in place. Obviously, we as a people must unite to win this battle. Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, this is a battle that we will win.

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