Covid-19, Global Governance, And Scientific Temper
"The lock-down was of course necessary, but it should have been done earlier and with better planning."
The deadly contagion Covid-19 came to the world in 2020. Unfortunately, our world lacks leaders with 20-20 vision. The humans caught the disease from bats. The human beings should have left the bats alone in their caves. But, the reckless urge to dominate mother nature is regrettably too strong.
It all started in Wuhan, China. The mayor there abused his authority and prevented the media from carrying the news of instances of pneumonia of unknown origin in December 2019. He punished a young doctor who raised the alarm. The mayor wanted to go ahead with his plans for a huge dinner for 40,000 families on 18th January. That day the virus went viral
President Xi Jinping was slow to act. On 31st December 2019, China informed the World Health Organization of cases of pneumonia, specifying that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
The W.H.O. moved at a snail’s pace. It declared a pandemic only on March 12 2020, after 20,000 had tested positive and 1000 died.
Among the world leaders President Trump tops the list of those who acted irresponsibly. He initially dismissed it as a flue, an instance of a dangerous unscientific temper. President Bolsonaro of Brazil still goes around shaking hands. He has dismissed his health minister who took responsible action to stop the contagion.
Prime Minister Johnson of the U.K. too was dismissive in the beginning till he got it. He has come back from hospital, but not yet back in office.
Italy was the worst affected in Europe. Spain, France, and the U.K. are following closely.
India declared a nation-wide lock-down on 24th March. This was too late. The first infection detected was in Kerala on 30th January, of a student who had returned from Wuhan. The same day the W.H.O. had declared a Public Health Emergency of Global Concern. By 25th January, the alert Minister of Health Smt. K.K. Shailaja had set up a high-level committee of 18. However, there was no conversation between Kerala and the Government of India that stopped air travel to and from China only on 5th March.
The lock-down was of course necessary, but it should have been done earlier and with better planning. India’s economy has suffered, not to mention the suffering of the people. All economic activities compatible with social distancing should have continued.
Ambassador Fabian is Professor at Indian Society of International Law and Distinguished Fellow at Symbiosis University.
March 15th, 2020 | category:international-affairs |