It’s a relief that PM Modi has cancelled poll rallies to finally focus on Covid management. But his hectic meetings expose the perils and pitfalls of over-centralised government. It’s easy to blame bureaucrats but they decide nothing without his nod. It’s time Modi decentralises powers to enable process-driven response system.
Delhi epicentre of India’s Covid mismanagement. Between CM and LG, no one is in charge
Delhi is now the epicentre of India’s Covid mismanagement. It’s supposed to be the most pampered city, equipped with the country’s best medical care. But one after the other, top hospitals are reporting oxygen shortages and suspending patient admissions. Between a CM and an LG, nobody is really in charge.
Modiji is a genius and has IQ higher than Einstein. Only he can get all the brilliant ideas and consequently only he should take all the important decisions, like if planes should fly in cloud cover, or if authorities in neighboring states should allow oxygen tankers to deliver oxygen to other states. We don’t need anyone else actually to run the govt including all the bureaucrats, and even most of the ministers. He should be considered for all these prizes like Nobel prize, Pulitzer, Grammy, etc.
In absence of basic honesty and self discipline, process driven working gets exposed to massive manipulation for facilitating corrupt practices.
If Modi is not doing things for his vested interest, then the idea behind the centralized functioning can only be out out his own experience of years of governance.
One feels sad to say this, but the 9 pm TV debate is now the perfect metaphor for India’s governance and public affairs. Adversarial, polemical, fact lite, more concerned with putting the other side down than seeking beneficial outcomes. Given the disposition of power, the Opposition is largely irrelevant, except in some states. So the buck stops entirely with the government of the day. 2. The US HoR has passed a Resolution to grant statehood to Washington DC. The arguments against doing so are as diaphanous and self serving as those that deny Delhi full statehood, which it richly deserves. Before Nawab Jung started troubling the democratically elected CM, hobbling him at each step, most people outside Delhi would have found it difficult to name the LG. 3. After the honourable apex court clarified the spheres of LG and CM, there really was no need to bring in this anti democratic law, which diminishes the democratic rights of its citizens. 4. Now to the pandemic and Medical Oxygen. There is more than enough work to keep both gentlemen up at night. Delhi is India’s face to the world, much more than Bombay is. The mess we have made of the pandemic is causing immense human distress to all Indians. It is also showing India in a poor light globally. A No fly zone. Delhi is actually above the pay grade of both the LG and the CM.
One day spent on the campaign trail, one summit with a foreign head of government, alternately on Indian or foreign soil, may not seem like a lot. But it adds up to a humongous commitment of incredibly precious time over a five year term. Each premier has his own style. Vajpayeeji spent as much time on his files in a month as his successor did each day. Both are well regarded by historians. 2. Each ministry has one or two, the more important ones have three or four, Secretaries. In their home cadres they would be good enough to be Chief Secretary. The process of empanelment is rigorous. If there is a serious talent crunch at the ministerial level, they can run the show, within the priorities of the government. Intuition suggests they can do little on their own initiative. Which is why one is so disdainful about recent lateral entry moves. If battle hardened, life long mandarins, mainly from the IAS, can do so little, a JS, in for three to five years, would not be permitted to draw the drapes in the conference hall. 3. Governance is at an ebb. Short of actual all out war – although the casualties now are higher – the pandemic is the most serious test any government has faced after the trauma of Partition and its aftermath. How well it has been handled is for each citizen to judge. This is part of a continuing recent pattern. The results are broadly uniform across all domains. Difficult to applaud a government merely for building toilets and opening bank accounts. A gentler, lower profile style of communication would add to gravitas and majesty.
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