The pandemic has emerged as the moment of reckoning for India’s bureaucrats as they lead India’s battle against the Wuhan coronavirus. However, a select few from the bureaucratic fraternity simply cannot shed their entitlement and are ending up spreading the Wuhan coronavirus.
There is no doubt that India’s bureaucrats have acted as a formidable line of resistance against the Wuhan virus however, the actions of a select few are not only bringing disrepute to the entire fraternity but also severely hampering India’s battle against the pandemic.
In Madhya Pradesh, Dr Ruby Khan, the Deputy Director in the state’s Health Department, initially refused to get hospitalised after testing positive for the virus but finally relented later. Khan initially refused to get admitted and chose to stay at bureaucrats’ training academy in Bhopal. Only when the academy sought the help of the Bhopal district collector did Khan relent.
“Today, I came to know that Dr Ruby Khan has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 symptoms and she has been tested positive. After that I spoke to Dr [Sudhir] Dehariya, Chief Medical and Health Officer [CMHO], Bhopal. But Dr Ruby Khan was not ready to get admitted to the hospital. CMHO said that Dr Ruby Khan is not listening to him, hence you talk to senior officials and you are requested to direct the officials concerned to shift Dr Ruby Khan to a hospital with necessary facilities and also to get the academy and hostel sanitised,” said the letter written in Hindi by the Officer on Special Duty of the academy.
The state’s Principal Secretary Pallavi Jain Govil has also tested positive for the virus and she too had earlier resisted the efforts of getting admitted to a government hospital. According to the state’s Human Rights Commission in Madhya Pradesh (MPHRC), despite having the symptoms of the virus, Govil continued to conduct meetings and was not kept in isolation wards. Additionally, it is alleged that Govil kept her US return son’s travel history hidden from the authorities.
In West Bengal, the state recorded its first positive patient of an 18-year-old resident of Kolkata who had returned from the United Kingdom. The patient who happens to be the son of a top Bengali bureaucrat, was immediately asked to get himself admitted as the people who were staying with him in the UK, also tested positive for the virus. However, the patient ignored the advice of hospitalization and traveled to length and breadth of West Bengal as if nothing had happened.
In Kerala, the sub-collector of Kollam, Anupam Mishra was ordered home quarantine upon his return from Singapore. Shockingly, he violated the quarantine code by leaving his official residence as he traveled to his hometown of Kanpur without alerting the authorities.
It is unfortunate to see that even in times of crisis, some bureaucrats and their families cannot shed their entitlement and consider themselves to be above the law. Ridden with a massive superiority complex, they have the potential to sink the nation’s efforts against the pandemic.