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A Crisis of Leadership — Part 1

Crises of conscience and consciousness…

Source | | Sahana Chattopadhyay

I had intended to start this article differently, but couldn’t without acknowledging what is happening in India today. India is in the grip of the second wave of Covid 19; and as someone aptly pointed out — it is not a wave; it is a wall. A tsunami hitting the country every day; the daily numbers have crossed a mindboggling 400,000 and is continuing to increase. The prediction is that India will cross a caseload of 800,000 daily with more than half a million deaths. The hospitals have run out of beds, ventilators, oxygen, and medicines. Crematoriums have run out of spaces and wood for the funeral pyres. Makeshift pyres are being built in parks, footpaths, and parking lots. The forest department is getting requests for the felling of trees for kindling. Delhi, the capital of India, is ravaged. A black-market in life-saving drugs is thriving, fleecing people even in this calamity. As always, the poorest are the hardest hit. It is apocalyptic, unbelievable, and immensely tragic. All the more heartbreaking because the suffering was avoidable. For a country with a rickety health infrastructure at the best of times and 1.4 billion citizens, this is a humongous challenge of unspeakable and unimaginable proportions. And there seems to be no end in sight.

The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who loves spectacles, has failed spectacularly. Bolstered by a spineless and sold-out media, surrounded by sycophantic bureaucrats, and led by blind hubris, gloating arrogance, and callous incompetence, the Modi government has turned a pandemic into a nationwide tragedy. No amount of data fudging and information massaging can hide the truth. India is in shock. The government is either missing in action or trying to spin a narrative to save its image. In a bizarre, Orwellian incident almost straight out of 1984, 300 top government officials attended a virtual session on boosting image and perception in the midst of a raging pandemic. The Ministry of Truth is truly here.

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