[Editorial Analysis] A crucial season

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Delhi Disaster Management Authority
Mains level: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Context:

• Faced with a potential reversal of gains that India has made in slowing the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister has appealed against weakening the fight during the annual season of festivals.

• Over the past six months, numerous individual events have enabled the infection to explode and spread.

Cautioning the public:

• These have ranged from the opening of wholesale markets and political gatherings to big funerals; many were infected when places of worship were allowed to be thronged.

• Mr. Modi’s appeal, which comes during the Navratri celebrations, and ahead of Dussehra, Deepavali and other festivals, is to be welcomed.

• The opportunity to caution the public was not grasped early.

• Also, in spite of the call to “mask up” on October 8, as part of a communication campaign he launched, its visibility has remained low.

• Moreover, virus estimations remain a mosaic of data, without a standardised system for testing, tracing and isolation across States.

• Only broad-brush statistics are available, even as the economy has reopened.

• The Union Health Ministry’s data point to a rising trend in daily cases in Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra, Manipur, and West Bengal.

• Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, with their high levels of incidence earlier, have started showing a decline in test positivity rates, a more reliable metric than absolute cases.

• Kerala has experienced a wave blamed on lax behaviour during Onam.

Danger of another wave:

• Health messaging on the dangers of another wave of infections can be effective if it is not drowned by repeated emphasis of massive recoveries.

• States, anxious to present a picture of near-normality to boost economic activity, highlight recoveries over risk, and people are lowering their guard.

• Mr. Modi has suggested that the fight must not weaken until there is a vaccine, and experts and WHO want countries to learn to live with an endemic virus.

• In India, the reality is that even as of October 21, the official death toll in a day stood at 717, a not so inconsequential number, and there were 7.4 lakh active cases.

• The emphasis, therefore, has to be on preparing for the new normal, adopting acknowledged defences such as masking, distancing norms and hand hygiene.

• In parallel, the Centre should launch policy reform to transform a predominantly commercialised health system into one providing universal coverage.

Conclusion:

• COVID-19 has meant double jeopardy — a loss of income on the one hand and a steep rise in health insurance premiums on the other, after insurers were asked to provide cover for more conditions.

• Under such circumstances, the cheapest protection against disease and financial loss is prevention, now and into the future.

• The Centre says it has a communication strategy centred around the theme of safety until March next year.

• Its efficacy will be tested immediately, by the festival season.

• Public health messaging must convince people that festivals can be celebrated safely.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the rare Rose-breasted Grosbeak, consider the following statements:

1. Rose-breasted grosbeaks are sexually dimorphic, meaning they have both males and females have different colour plumage.

2. Its IUCN status is Vulnerable.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1) What are the major challenges for the government to organising festivals during covid 19 pandemic? Critically analyse.

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