CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

maharashtra-hands-over-five-of-its-hospitals-to-four-ias-officers

Maharashtra hands over five of its hospitals to four IAS officers

In a seemingly desperate move, the Maharashtra government has deputed three IAS officers to three major civic-run hospitals in the city for effective management of the outbreak. The responsibility of Nair Hospital has been given to Madan Nagargoje (IAS:2007) while Ajit Patil (IAS:2007) will oversee the functioning of KEM Hospital. Balaji Manjule (IAS:2009) has been deputed to Sion Hospital.

State chief secretary Ajoy Mehta deputed the IAS officers for effective control and management of these hospitals, which are handling most of the coronavirus cases.

The responsibility of state-run GT Hospital and JJ Hospital has been given to Sushil Khodvekar (IAS:2011) apart from this, who is deputy secretary in the school education department. Mumbai, one of the top coronavirus hotspots in the county, has so far recorded nearly 42,000 positive cases and around 850 deaths.

22 May 2020
mp-transfers-khandwa-dm-and-sp-for-spike-in-covid-19-case

MP transfers Khandwa DM and SP for spike in COVID-19 case

Due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, the Madhya Pradesh government transferred Khandwa district collector Tanvi Sundriyal (IAS: 2010: MP) and superintendent of police Siv Dayal (IPS: 2012:MP). Actually this was done a day after the small border town with Maharashtra saw 90 new Covid-19 patients in 24 hours.

Sundriyal was replaced with another 2010-batch IAS officer Anay Dwivedi(IAS: 2010: MP) and was posted as a deputy secretary in the state secretariat. Dayal, was replaced by commander of Special Armed Force’s 7th battalion Vivek Singh (IPS: 2012:MP). Dayal will be the new commander of the battalion.

The government seems clueless and shifting officers when on May 4, collector of Ujjain Shashank Mishra and on May 7, SP Sachin Atulkar were shifted when the city became a Covid-19 hotspot with the death rate being highest among big cities.

Indore saw a similar situation earlier when its collector Lokesh Jatav was shifted and replaced with Manish Singh on March 28. Three days later, Indore police chief deputy inspector general (DIG) of police Ruchivardhan Mishra was shifted to a smaller district in the region. However, when Indore collector was shifted, the city had not become a Covid-19 hotspot but virus was spreading fast in certain localities.

21 May 2020
maharashtra-hands-over-five-of-its-hospitals-to-four-ias-officers

Maharashtra hands over five of its hospitals to four IAS officers

By IndianMandarins 22 May 2020

In a seemingly desperate move, the Maharashtra government has deputed three IAS officers to three major civic-run hospitals in the city for effective management of the outbreak. The responsibility of Nair Hospital has been given to Madan Nagargoje (IAS:2007) while Ajit Patil (IAS:2007) will oversee the functioning of KEM Hospital. Balaji Manjule (IAS:2009) has been deputed to Sion Hospital.

State chief secretary Ajoy Mehta deputed the IAS officers for effective control and management of these hospitals, which are handling most of the coronavirus cases.

The responsibility of state-run GT Hospital and JJ Hospital has been given to Sushil Khodvekar (IAS:2011) apart from this, who is deputy secretary in the school education department. Mumbai, one of the top coronavirus hotspots in the county, has so far recorded nearly 42,000 positive cases and around 850 deaths.

mp-transfers-khandwa-dm-and-sp-for-spike-in-covid-19-case

MP transfers Khandwa DM and SP for spike in COVID-19 case

By IndianMandarins 21 May 2020

Due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, the Madhya Pradesh government transferred Khandwa district collector Tanvi Sundriyal (IAS: 2010: MP) and superintendent of police Siv Dayal (IPS: 2012:MP). Actually this was done a day after the small border town with Maharashtra saw 90 new Covid-19 patients in 24 hours.

Sundriyal was replaced with another 2010-batch IAS officer Anay Dwivedi(IAS: 2010: MP) and was posted as a deputy secretary in the state secretariat. Dayal, was replaced by commander of Special Armed Force’s 7th battalion Vivek Singh (IPS: 2012:MP). Dayal will be the new commander of the battalion.

The government seems clueless and shifting officers when on May 4, collector of Ujjain Shashank Mishra and on May 7, SP Sachin Atulkar were shifted when the city became a Covid-19 hotspot with the death rate being highest among big cities.

Indore saw a similar situation earlier when its collector Lokesh Jatav was shifted and replaced with Manish Singh on March 28. Three days later, Indore police chief deputy inspector general (DIG) of police Ruchivardhan Mishra was shifted to a smaller district in the region. However, when Indore collector was shifted, the city had not become a Covid-19 hotspot but virus was spreading fast in certain localities.

spiritual-column-gita-acharan-10

Spiritual Column: Gita Acharan-10

By K Siva Prasad 03 May 2020

The Gita contains many master keys which have the capacity to open up many doors and bypass hurdles we face in the path of self-realization.  One such master key is to see yourself in others and others in you. Krishna implores us to realize that its HIM in all of us and he is hinting at the un-manifested (form-less). Krishna elsewhere asks us to raise ourselves to bow to a donkey or a thief as if we are bowing to the LORD.

Based on the inputs brought in by the senses, our minds are programmed to divide and judge situations into safe/pleasant or unsafe/unpleasant. This is necessary and useful to protect us from imminent dangers. Like any technology, the mind is double-edged too, and crosses its mandate, to become our master. This is essentially the birthplace of Ahankaar . What this master key says is to make the mind a slave to minimize division/judgment so that cohesion/unity appears. No complex physical entity, including our body can survive without this cohesion.

When we use this master key, we develop compassion for others and raise awareness about ourselves. The best way to realize this is to start with a person whom we consider a foe, for whatever reason and see that person as the LORD. Certainly it is difficult as many unpleasant memories and feelings are attached to them and with the time that unpleasantness melts to give way to joy. In fact there must have been situations where all of us have done this and we just need to put it into practice more often. 

Awareness (about self) and Compassion(for others) are the two oars of the boat to row in the path given by the Gita, towards shores of the inner self.

Once we understand this, could we see Lord Krishna in Corona !

(Author K Siva Prasad is 1993 batch IAS officer, Punjab cadre)

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After bureaucratic reshuffle, changes in empowered groups handling COVID-19

By IndianMandarins 01 May 2020

The  Centre reshuffled on May 1, 2020 eleven empowered groups that had been set up to control COVID-19 pandemic after recent big bureaucratic reshuffle. Some groups will be headed by new secretaries while two groups have been pruned.

This is a clear indication that there is a shift in focus as the government extended lockdown for the second time. Department of economic affairs secretary Tarun Bajaj will lead the group on economy and welfare issues replacing Atanu Chakraborty who has retired. Rural development secretary N N Sinha will also be part of the group.

I&B secretary Amit Khare will lead the panel on information communication and public awareness. He was earlier heading the panel on public grievances and suggestions which have been pruned. It will now be headed by administrative reforms and public grievances secretary K Shivaji. The panel earlier had three officials from the PMO but there will be just two PMO representatives. 

is-all-well-in-gujarat-health-ministry-

Is all well in Gujarat Health Ministry?

By IndianMandarins 30 Apr 2020

Gujarat’s Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Ms Jayanti Srinivasan Ravi (IAS:1991:GJ) has become the face of the state government during this Covid-19 epidemic because she briefs the media twice a day on the daily updates of the pandemic. However, if insiders in the administration are to be believed, Jayanti Ravi’s powers have been curtailed substantially.

The government has silently roped in other senior officials like Pankaj Kumar (IAS:1986:GJ), P K Parmar (IAS:1985:GJ), Rajiv Kumar Gupta (IAS:1986:GJ), Mukesh Puri (IAS:1988:GJ) Vinod R Rao (IAS:2000:GJ), Arun Kumar Solanki (IAS:1990:GJ), Mukesh Puri and others entrusting them different tasks to cut her to size. Reportedly, PS, Health has been just reduced to brief media twice a day and prepare press releases with updates on cases, deaths, testings, discharge etc.

PMO and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were alarmed when Gujarat hit headlines for surging cases of Coronavirus infection, higher death toll and slow recovery rate, and lack of adequate medical and public health infrastructure. According to top sources in Gandhinagar, PMO and MHA has expressed their concerns about the way Ahmedabad’s civil hospital was in the news for wrong reasons.

It is also learned that the CMO has briefed PMO and Home Minister Amit Shah about how the State Health Minister Nitin Patel has remained indecisive in important matters of the health department and has not allowed recruitment and runs the department as his person fiefdom, not allowing any say in its matters from anyone including the CM!

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Is the world heading for a Lockdown Baby Boom?

By Madhuri Shukla 27 Apr 2020

While we sit in a lockdown, many are drawing comparisons between world wars and the current coronavirus pandemic. Even before this deadly disease hit us hard, demographers predicted a combination of factors – fewer births, more deaths, and negligible immigration, resulting in a nation wise slow down in population growth.

On one hand while we are counting the number of deaths due to corona every few hours an interesting trend observed after the two world wars has been a Baby Boom.  Well can we expect a new generation of lockdown babies coming up next year? Let’s introspect.

If we look at history compulsory lockdowns have meant an increase in the birth rate nine months down the line. A very popular piece of research from London School of Economics shows that a nationwide blackout in Colombia in the early 1990s led to a remarkable rise in unplanned births - if people being stuck at home in the dark caused more pregnancies, then will be stuck at home in a lockdown for an indefinite time have a similar effect?

Of course, as anyone will tell you, these are unique times on just about every level. No individual or community nor the disaster management departments of the most developed nations have been equipped enough to function normally in this scenario. The safest prevention method we see as of now is a lockdown.

With couples quarantined together indefinitely, condoms in short supply, and reduced access to birth control and abortion, we might as well end up with a baby boom due to unplanned pregnancies again this time.

Moreover, many young couples who had already planned a baby this year might continue with their plans. Work-wise, pregnant or not, women just like men have a compulsory ‘paid’ work from home. So this doesn’t count as maternity leave. So the would-be mother does not have to risk her job or her health commuting every day to work in a polluted city.

Healthwise, there is negligible access to outside eateries or junk food, therefore as in an ideal setting the mother to be compelled to have nutritious freshly made homecooked food.

However, it’s worth noting that there are many would-be pandemic parents who would be extra precautious and avoid pregnancy in a time of such widespread uncertainty.

When a couple plans to expand the family, the first thought is of finance. Right now couples in childbearing age are already worried about their own futures as they even have to face unemployment. Just like the aftermath of the Great Recession, the economic downturn that begin in late 2007, financially there is a certain uncertainty which could be the prime reason why couples would postpone -- or even forgo -- decisions to have children. 

Biology wise too, anxiety and stress anyway bring down the libido and are not conducive to fertility.

Next comes health. Like we all know a pregnant lady has additional healthcare needs and would require multiple visits to the hospital or clinic for several tests, scans, and vaccinations over the 9 month period. In this time of crisis, the hospitals are already overloaded with corona patients and are highly infectious zones. Even people with mild ailments are advised to stay at home or rely on telemedicine. So deliberately getting pregnant and then being exposed to such an environment in a lockdown does not sound wise. 

Why are we interested in this idea?

Given strong contradictions to both the reasoning, the more interesting question may not be whether or not there will be one, but rather, why we’re so invested in the idea in the first place. The idea of children and childbirth represents some optimism for the future at a time when our own seems bleaker and bleaker. Through the eyes of an illusory future generation, we can recreate an image that we knew existed a few months ago and use it to overpower the harsh reality of the present scenario which might continue for predictable weeks, months, and beyond.

Only time can tell if we will witness this new generation of ‘lockdownbabies’ or not, but if we do, it’ll indeed be fascinating to see their traits. You never know, they might be really good at self-isolation!

(By Madhuri Shukla)

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Spiritual Column: Gita Acharan- 09

By K Siva Prasad 26 Apr 2020

In the Gita, Lord Krishna says you yourself are your own friend and you yourself are your own foe. The following story of the trapped monkey illustrates it well.

Some nuts are kept in an earthen pot with a narrow mouth (surahi) in which the monkey's hand barely fits. The monkey inserts its hands by squeezing through the mouth of the pot and grabs a fist full of nuts. As the first is full, its size goes up and so it can't come out of the pot. The monkey makes all sorts of efforts to get the closed fist out of the pot. It keeps thinking that someone has laid a trap for it and never realises that the trap is set by itself. No amount of explanation would convince the monkey to let go of these nuts, instead it would think that we are trying to grab its nuts.

From the outside, it looks quite simple that it has to drop a couple of nuts to loosen the fist so that its hand comes out. But realising this simple fact, when we are trapped is the challenge. 

The closed fist is our foe and open fist is our friend and it's our choice to open or close, making us friend or foe to ourselves respectively.

 In life, we encounter so many similar traps.  Those nuts are nothing but I, My, Me and Mine; Ahankaar binds our hand to them. Gita repeatedly tells us, in so many ways, to let go of Ahankaar so that we are free of these traps, thus leading to ultimate freedom.

It is easier to get the realisation about these traps when we slow down rather than in a fast paced world with a lot of noise. The opportunity presented by COVID-19 is an ideal time to come to these realisations.

(Author K Siva Prasad is 1993 batch IAS officer, Punjab cadre)

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Epidemic intelligence and disease surveillance: Looking beyond COVID-19

By IndianMandarins 25 Apr 2020

Former Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh and former Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Vineet Chaudhary (Retd IAS:2002:HP) has shared his insight about COVID-19 pandemic that delves into the post-COVID-19 scenario:-

The more I read about this lockdown, the more it reminds me of the labyrinth (Chakravyuh) of Mahabharat. Like Abhimanyu, we can walk into it but don’t know how to get out of it.

I was flipping through my notes of bird flu and swine flu days. Spread and mortality from swine flu in the country was similar if not higher. Yet in all review meetings at that time, health ministry among other things repeatedly stressed that economic disruption had to be minimised. There was community spread of swine flu and even now cases occur on a regular basis. We seem to have forgotten that it was also a pandemic and also the lessons learnt from the containment strategies deployed then.

One may well argue that since no cure is known for COVID 19, a lockdown was inevitable. Well in the case of a Novel Coronavirus, it is a fact that no known cure is available. So one has to always be on alert for such an outbreak anywhere in the globe and launch appropriate containment measures at an appropriate time before it becomes a crisis. I concede that it is difficult to maintain such a vigil in light of limited resources and competing demands from other killer diseases and infections. Unfortunately, there can be no short cuts to preparedness and pandemics will continue to revisit the world. Strengthening of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has been a non-starter and so has been the epidemic intelligence training programme. Long term measures are the need of the hour to cope with pandemics and not knee jerk responses.

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