Cover image: Amartya Sen said India could not play on its strengths because of a poor response to the crisis
05 June 2021
COVID-19 India: "It (government) was trying to generate the credit boasting across the world that India will save the world perhaps. And at the same time, allowing the problem to develop and have a grip over the lives of Indians across the country," Amartya Sen said.
Erik Qualman said, "History repeats itself because nobody listens the first time." This quote is very apt for the current central government which always jumps to take credit for containing the Covid Pandemic. It did so under the illusion that Covid had gone away after the end of the first wave. It was caught unawares when the Second Wave struck in March and reached an all time high of daily infection of four lakh in the first week of May. In the face of acute shortages of oxygen, essential medicines and above all vaccines, it did not know where to hide. So much so a Missing Diary was lodged by the National Students Union of India (NSUI) in Delhi against the Union Home Minister. Again when the second wave case load has come down to 1.30 Lakh per day, the Centre has started to blow its trumpet once again in having buttressed the Virus. Credit if any should go to our scientists and medical fraternity including the frontline health workers, and certainly not to the Government which according to experts, is not giving them the correct data on infection and deaths. Some eminent personalities have rightly said a sense of early "triumphalism" led to the crisis. Let us hope we learn our lessons from the first and second waves (still not fully subsided) and brace for a possible third wave with adequate stock of oxygen and medicines. The Mantra as most doctors have been saying should be "Vaccinate, Vaccinate and Vaccinate" all eligible citizens, within the shortest possible timeframe. Isaac Gomes, Associate Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.
Mumbai: India's "confused" government focused on taking credit for its actions, rather than working to restrict the spread of COVID-19, resulting in schizophrenia that led to massive troubles, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said.
India was better placed to fight the pandemic because of its pharma manufacturing prowess and also higher immunity levels, the noted economist said while speaking at an event organised by the Rashtra Seva Dal late Friday evening.
Amartya Sen's remarks came in the backdrop of the second wave of the pandemic seeing the number of officially reported cases topping over 4 lakh a day and over 4,500 deaths daily, and also concerns over alleged under-reporting. Some eminent personalities have said a sense of early "triumphalism" led to the crisis.
Amartya Sen said India could not play on its strengths because of a poor response to the crisis due to confusion in the government.
"The government seemed much keener on ensuring credit for what it was doing rather than ensuring that pandemics do not spread in India. The result was a certain amount of schizophrenia," Amartya Sen said.
Amartya Sen, who is a professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University, cited writing by Adam Smith in 1769 wherein the father of modern economics argues that if one does good things, he does get credit for it. And the credit could be sometimes an indicator of how well one is doing.
"But to seek the credit, and not the good work that generates the credit shows a level of intellectual naivete which has to be avoided. India tried to do that," Amartya Sen added.
"It (government) was trying to generate the credit boasting across the world that India will save the world perhaps. And at the same time, allowing the problem to develop and have a grip over the lives of Indians across the country," he added.
Amartya Sen said India was already afflicted with social inequities, slowing growth and unemployment at record highs, which came to haunt it during the pandemic.
"A failure of economy and failure of social cohesion was the basis of the failure of the pandemic attack as well," he said, adding that limitations on education led to difficulties in assessing early symptoms and treatment protocols.
Amartya Sen also argued for a "big constructive change" in healthcare and education above all, but also in economic and social policies in general.