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Leaders, be alert: Worst is yet to come

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It is time for reinventing ourselves

It is time for reinventing ourselves. Corona has forced us to make several changes in our lifestyle. The first three months, the Central and the State governments struggled to contain the spread of virus. With the economy receiving a major blow, now they are pretending to have overcome the panic situation and have gone in for gradual relaxation of curbs for scaling up economic activity. The leaders - be it at the Centre or in the States - should now understand that they need to come out of their narrow-minded politicking and plan for long-term reforms and demonstrate that we are progressive and can easily adopt to any challenging situation.

But unfortunately, even an iota of such thinking is not visible anywhere. Leaders still seem to be thinking on narrow political lines and are perhaps of the view that like the earlier viruses, bird flu, swine flu or HIV, this too would soon pass and then the world would be back to normal. But the fact is that we have a long way to go before things fall in place. The leaders should stop patting their own back saying, "We are doing our best."

This is important because the minute one thinks like that, it means that he has drawn a line for himself and has come to the conclusion that he cannot do better. It is time the governments, which have so far been fighting to come to grips with the spread of the deadly virus, come to the conclusion that we have to live with it and work out long- term strategies not just in management of health, but in all walks of life including executive activities. While it needs to be hammered into the minds of people that they have to wear masks and maintain social distance and that relaxations do not mean they can be careless. Planning for creating social distance in all organisations including Parliament and State Assemblies becomes important.

We have seen how the Covid-19 protocols were thrown to winds in the conduct of two-day AP Assembly session. Good number of members including the Chief Minister were not wearing masks when the proceedings were on. Many times, even the Speaker was not wearing the mask. There was hardly one feet gap between the members. Its time, measures were taken to redesign the seating arrangement in Legislative bodies. If the existing floor space cannot be extended, the style of seating arrangement in the legislative buildings should be changed.

May be cubicle with glass partition on all sides for each member could create more space and ensure social distancing. This may also help in doing away with the practice of members shouting and rushing to the podium on the slightest provocation to earn brownie points from their leaders. The presiding officers should also become assertive and ensure that no member sits in the house without a mask.

The system of canteen can also be done away with and vending machines for tea or coffee can be set up at various points. Another major issue that needs to be tackled urgently is in regard to following the health protocols in educational institutions. Simple spraying of disinfectants will not help, and this exercise will soon take a backseat if the government fails to wake up to the need to come out with new systems. Though online education is one option, the kind of seriousness a student would develop in direct teaching system would be missing. Hence, the urgent need which every government should consider is how to reduce the number of students per class and maintain gap between the seats of each student. With the existing system of common bench which has been the age-old practice, social distancing is not possible, Again, it has to be individual seats with partition between the students.

What is important is immediate focus on creating such infrastructural facilities. The school managements too should stop thinking about their profits and should go in for introducing new systems without passing on the financial burden to the parents. Instead of focusing on such issues, some State governments are insisting that they will conduct the SSC examinations for the remaining subjects come what may. Such issues should not be treated as prestige issue by any leader. Instead they should adopt themselves to the changing dynamics and behave in a more matured and responsible manner. Are the leaders listening?

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