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COVID-19 Crisis: Time to give govt officials, civil servants and public sector their due

By IndianMandarins- 24 Mar 2020


Country’s entire civil society responded generously to PM Modi’s call for Janata Curfew by blowing Conch cells, clapping and cranckling plates to express gratitude and solidarity with the doctors and paramedics serving Coronavirus patients. But is that enough? The PM thanked Air India for its services in bringing Indians stranded in countries affected from Coronavirus.

But the fact of the matter is that the entire government machinery, public sector enterprises, civil servants, government officials across the hierarchy need to be thanked and applauded for relentless service directly or indirectly putting their own lives at risk.

People quite often make careless remarks on government establishments but the country is watching that entire machinery is involved ensuring health services, enforcement agencies ensuring law & order, issuing SOPs, circulating guidelines, executing regulatory mechanism, securing the supply of food, fuel, milk, medicine, water, electricity, banking and whatnot.

Ministries, departments, municipal bodies are at work round the clock. There are numerous government officials who are working day and night in the service of the nation. For example; a Director level officer in the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority suffering auto-immune disease refused his family’s request to abstain from office in the hours of emergency needs. Another IAS officer Nikunja Dhal (1993), Principal Secretary, Health, Govt of Odisha, showed exemplary courage and sense of responsibility when he joined office the very next day he performed the last rites of his father. Lateral entry in Civil Service from the corporate sector is appreciated in bureaucracy but it’s not corporate sector which contributes in the hours of crisis the way the government framework does. It does not mean at all that the country does not recognise the service and contribution of the private sector in nation-building. 

Amid lockdown a long list of service and officials going viral on social media which reads;

  1. Aviation sector: It is Indian Air Force and much-maligned Air India that were at the front. But where were private aviation operators. The only private payer that was involved at the last moment was Air Asia.
  2. Security as Airports, government offices and Border posts: Who is screening people at Arrival at airports and at different other places from Parliament to Krishi Bhawan to Air Ports. It is paramilitary forces, state police and other government employees while private-sector employees or people having a huge package in the IT sector are missing from the scene. They can be found causing a ruckus at the airports obstructing works of these people.
  3. Who is manning isolation centres: Defence services personnel and government health workers and government hospitals are at service. Not private luxury hospitals and they are demanding money to conduct Covid-19 tests up to Rs 5000. It is government doctors and health workers who are serving these patients not private hospital doctors with 6 digit salary.
  4. Now the question is, where is the private sector? Has any big corporate house come forward to pitch in? Has any private sector airline volunteered? Has any private hospital chain deputed doctors? Have they opened quarantine centres? In fact, many private corporates houses are not even allowing people to work from home till the time lockdown happened let alone coming forward to take responsibility of disinfecting at least their areas but waiting for the government to do it! The Central government had to issue directives for establishments and outlets to provide things like sanitizers at entry points.
  5. But people always support the private sector and criticise the government establishment which is overburdened everywhere. If a Yes Bank collapses, SBI needs to take care but SBI will be criticised for everything. The police that is enforcing law and order and telling people to stay put at home which should actually be the common sense. So be a responsible citizen and support government employees in this critical situation instead of causing more trouble to them.

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