According to recent statistics, India ranks third in the world in terms of total Covid-19 deaths, with an all-time high of 40,000 new cases per day (as per second wave of Covid-19). What went wrong in the management department? How did we get here, and would our democracy be able to survive? Join us as we unravel the story of Covid-19 and democracy together.
Let’s start this adventure at 8 p.m. on March 24, 2020. India has instituted a national curfew. The Indian Prime Minister addresses the country, drawing a comparison between the Mahabharata and the Lakshmana Rekha to advise people to remain at home for the next 21 days. The so-called strictest lockout in the world has been implemented. However, the fate of the lockdown in India remains to be seen. Democracy had been known for a long time before it was imposed. It was almost impossible to accommodate a population of 1.353 billion people without breaching democratic principles.
The most important factor in Lockdown’s failure was our country’s prevalent Individualism (individual freedom of action taking precedence over state control). While it had benefits such as higher economic growth rates by rewarding non-conformism (willfully disobedience), it was not designed to tackle a pandemic because it had the handicap of Parochial Altruism. Since it was based on individual benefits rather than social gains, making a collective and concerted decision (or even a response to a decision) was nearly impossible. Lockdown, on the other hand, was more successful in oppressive regimes like the People’s Republic of China, where collectivism thrived.
CRISIS OF MIGRANTS
The lockdown was followed by total chaos. Factories and factories were closed, putting labourers out of jobs. They were in desperate need of money, clothing, and shelter. The labourers set out on their journey to their native villages, which acted as a transmission point for the disease. A swarm of migrants gathered near bus and train stations, some preferring to walk to their homes out of desperation. Rumors that the government was arranging travel facilities without advance notice fuelled their migration. Many died as a result of malnutrition, depression, police brutality, and road and rail accidents; others died as a result of starvation, depression, police brutality, and road and rail accidents.
The opposition and the ruling majority began their years-long mudslinging with each other (a very important feature of contemporary Democracy).
The government made provisions, but their execution remained a challenge. The food grains were sufficient to last at least a year, but their distribution through the One Country, One Ration Card system remained a source of concern.
This crisis has brought to light a lack of coordination between the centre and the states. The Home Ministry released a directive on March 27 directing the states to control migration. It also granted states the authority to use the National Disaster Response Fund to provide essential necessities to the labourers (such as food and shelter). Regional Friction was still a concern. While some states opted to take a regional approach rather than a centralised national approach, others blindly followed the central order, resulting in extreme police violence and violations of all those affected’s human rights.
Despite the fact that financial assistance was promised, over 90% of labourers who reached out in April indicated that they had received no financial assistance from the government. During the lockdown in Tamil Nadu, 97 percent of workers were not paid, and in Punjab, 84 percent of workers had less than Rs100 in their pockets.
Migrants’ social ostracism (procedure in Athenian Democracy under which any person could be excluded from Athens, used here to refer to social exclusion) remained a problem since they were seen as sources of infection transmission. No one wanted to be in their vicinity. Migrants suffered a major psychological toll as a result of declining income and societal discrimination, robbing them of their equal position in society.
PROFILE OF INDIA AS A COUNTRY
This Research Article will summarise India’s performance in relation to Covid-19 using data provided by the Global Monitor of Covid-19’s Effect on Democracy and Human Rights.
General Analysis- The state of India did not declare an emergency because the constitution of India specifies that it can only be used when India’s territorial integrity is threatened by acts of violence, such as a war. (Indian Constitution, Article 352).
Because of the social polarisation that already exists in the current status quo, the answer can be classified as Neutral. In order to portray a more complex view of Covid 19 and its effect on democratic rights, we will concentrate on the rights that have been jeopardised as a result of the Covid response set by the Government of India and world governments in general.
Pandemic and Isolationormativity
I’d like to encourage the idea of Isolationormativity, which was proposed by Matteo Winkler, a professor at HEC Paris, through this article. In one of his Forbes essays, he discusses coining the word “Isolation,” which includes elements of normative ethics or moral philosophy as well as public health terms.
Isolation is a crucial measure to reduce pandemic risks in the absence of antivirals, antibiotics, and vaccinations, according to the WHO Disease Control Priorities Handbook.
Man is a social animal by nature, and confining him behind a roof and four walls can have severe mental consequences as well as exacerbate current social problems, upsetting the status quo. For example, requesting that someone stay at home during a pandemic might be a necessary safety measure, but is it morally correct? In certain instances, it isn’t.
To illustrate my point, consider India and other Asian countries, where the abuse of LGTBQ+ people is on the rise, as they are subjected to intense torture and exploitation by their toxic family members. Indian women filed more domestic violence cases during the first four phases of the COVID-19-related lockdown than in a comparable era in the previous ten years.
The countries’ good performance in areas including freedom of movement, personal integrity and security, basic welfare, an effective parliament, judicial independence, civil society participation, and local democracy helped to limit the Pandemic’s negative effects.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan states, “India’s pre-emptive, positive, and graded policy ensured a plateaued graph of COVID-19 cases and a significant number of unoccupied beds in health facilities at any point in time.”
Will our democracy be able to withstand the test of time, or will something New, Stronger, and Better emerge?
Author: Ridham Jindal from St. Wilfred College of Law.