Jaipur: Former home minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram has questioned the overall management of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. He said that the virus may be eliminated in a year or two but did Indian democracy rise to the challenge and protect the lives, livelihoods and well being of its people, especially the poor and children.
Chidambaram was in Jaipur on Friday to address a seminar on the global pandemic and challenges to democracy organized in the assembly by the Rajasthan branch of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
In his address, the Congress leader strongly criticized the policy of the Union government on issues like the centralised system of decision making, vaccination programme and unscientific approaches to fight the pandemic.
He said, "Let me dwell upon the specific challenges faced by a country like India, which is, according to some observers a democracy, but a diminished democracy. For our purpose today, I shall accept that India is a democracy. Faced with any adversity, the weaknesses would have been exposed in due course. Faced with pandemic, the weaknesses have been exposed brutally with no scope of cover-up or excuse or buying time."
Chidambaram listed out seven challenges that pandemic has thrown up -- perils of centralization, design and execution of vaccination programme, resources and their allocation, widening of disparities, make the legislative branch work, subversion of the rule of law and nature of democracy. He said the most devastating impact of the pandemic was faced by the poor children as they were locked out of school because of the pandemic and excluded from online learning due to their inability to access smart devices.
The Congress leader also touched on the issue of vaccine nationalism -- ‘what I make is mine and what I can afford to buy is mine’. "Vaccine nationalism has thrown a spanner in the wheel of global cooperation n the fight against the pandemic," he said. He added that a response of ‘in order to promote my vaccine I will not allow you to use your vaccine’ was extremely perverse during a a global pandemic.