European cities are autonomous to a large extent. From police to civic supplies, economic development to transport policy, are under looked after by the Mayors. The kind of influence Mayors have in European cities could be gauged by the fact that Prime Ministers of some of the largest European countries like United Kingdom, Spain rise up to the post when they have the right experience and record as Mayor in major cities of the country.
The Mayors of European cities are like Chief Ministers of Indian states as the regional division in European countries is much devolved given their smaller size. In fact, the Mayors of many cities like London, Paris have very advanced diplomatic relations with cities of foreign countries.
Therefore, as many cities of Europe suffer from the worst public health crisis of modern history, the Mayors of many cities like Milan, Paris, Madrid are leading the battle against Coronavirus.
London is among the worst-hit cities with more than 10,000 reported cases so far 350 deaths. But the estimates suggest that lakhs of people in London, including Prime Minister and members of Royal Family, have been infected from the virus. But amidst all this, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (May 2016-present), is nowhere to be seen.
Instead of leading the battle against Coronavirus like their Italian counterparts, Sadiq Khan is blaming politicians from the Conservative party for inaction and accused the finance minister, Rishi Sunak, of not helping. So far, all that he has done is appeal to people on social media to not go outside.
Like the Mayors of other European cities, the Mayor of London has enormous power and influence. In fact, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, was Mayor of London for two terms, from May 2008 to May 2016. Khan was elected in May 2016 and his 4-year term is about to complete, and will be facing elections in 2021, as elections scheduled on May 5 were postponed for next year due to Coronavirus outbreak.
But, despite elections nearing, Khan is demoralizing people instead of leading. He told Londoners to be prepared for a ‘large number’ of deaths in the coming days. “I need to warn people that it is going to a lot worse over the next few weeks,” Mr Khan said. “But we are going to do what we can for that eventuality. The number of people we are talking about are large and we need to be ready for that.”
“You will have seen the amount of dead already in London, we are two or three weeks ahead of the rest of the country and we know the peak is coming soon, three to five weeks away,” said the London Mayor.
Having a Mayor like Khan is the worst a city can expect in the times of crisis. The Greater London Authority, which the Mayor of London leads, is responsible for crucial functions like Police, Housing, Fire, transport etc. But despite having such enormous responsibilities, the Mayor of London is out of the public eye.
United Kingdom has some of the worst leaders to deal with the crisis, with a Prime Minister who believed for too long that ‘herd immunity‘ will solve the problem, to a Mayor who has not come forward to lead the war against the pandemic. As we say in Hindi, the country is functioning Ram Bharose (at the mercy of God), and this has left millions of citizens to die.
The British government never took the COVID-19 Pandemic seriously, until a large proportion of its population including the top executives including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Royal Price Charles got indisposed. While the entire world decided to forgo handshakes for the time being and adopt “Namaste”, the Indian way of greeting people is gaining wide acceptability in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, be it the US President Donald Trump or the French President Emmanuel Macron, or of course Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the United Kingdom decided to stick with handshakes snubbing “Namaste” while also adopting the ‘herd immunity’ strategy which was destined to be a disaster from the start.
After all, why should Britain, the country that completely colonised India for almost two centuries adopt the ways of the inferior Indian people? Leaders in Britain still consider Britain to be a superior race than India and it seems this sense of cultural/racial supremacy has turned out to be counter-productive for the United Kingdom.
In fact, it was this sense of superiority complex that made the Great Britain plainly dismissive towards COVID-19, when it was struck by the China-made Wuhan virus. In fact, the United Kingdom was the only country that publicly admitted the faux pas of “herd immunity”.