According to an old adage, it is the critical times that test and validate the capacity and caliber of a leadership. And a true leader always emerges successful against all odds due to his unwavering self-confidence, faith, honesty, determination and clear vision to serve the suffering humanity. As history shows that challenges before humanity have always led to unusual circumstances which demand unusual measures to deal with them. Whether these were the World Wars or the Great Economic Depression in the previous century, or the 9/11 almost two decades ago in the present one, all these led to unusual even horrible counter-steps, like the United States dropping atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the Global War on Terror which resulted into unimaginable loss of precious humanity besides destroying uncounted hard-earned material power. What a leader once decides, he firmly carries it to its logical conclusion till the end, irrespective of protests or criticisms.
What is clearly manifested in India that the Covid-19 pandemic is still beyond the expected limits in many parts of the country despite two months’ long efforts by both the central and states governments to contain the consistently spreading epidemic. This is why the central government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to further extend the ongoing countrywide lockdown 2.0 for another two weeks, though many reasons may be assigned to the rising figures of the Corona-infected patients throughout the country.
Unfortunately, the significantly large number of Indians still believe in their grossly unfounded and illogical reasoning of their religions or irrational and unscientific dictates of their religious heads and, hence, insistent to not only ignore the scientific rationales underscoring preventive measures to fight the pandemic but adamant to violate them, notwithstanding serious threat to their own lives or that of their kin as well. This is clear from their highly offending, illegal and inhuman acts of spitting or attacking doctors including other supporting staff, and indulging into organized stone-pelting over policemen.
Although the government has now armed them with a protective legal cover inviting strict punitive actions to those violating this law, such stringent action has yet to deter these hard-headed and obstinate criminals engendering recurring of such attacks against these ‘saviors of humanity’. In fact, these angels are performing exemplary jobs amidst most critical times, while passing sleep-less nights away from their homes and even risking their own lives due to regular exposure vis-à-vis Corona-patients and also due to substandard PPE kits, as per media reports. As is already seen many such duty-bound doctors and policemen have, so far, sacrificed their supreme selves due to unavoidable exposure, while ceaselessly serving the so-infected patients.
Against this worry in the country, the role of political leadership assumes crucial significance vis-a-vis the monumental crisis due to the very gravely contagious epidemic in a large peninsular sized country like India, observing myriads of customs and traditions symbolizing its vast cultural diversities as regards to language, religion, faith, belief, eatables, dresses and revelry, etc., yet reflecting an all-encompassing and overlapping unity as a strong foundation of the distinguished nation in the world since ages.
Thus sensing the possibility of an impending disaster, Modi immediately swung into action and resorted to nationwide lockdown 1.0 so as to break the continuing human chain as a potential carrier of the virus. That indeed resulted into successfully containing the pandemic to just a few thousand infected patients, so far, which otherwise would have risen to lakhs or more, given the huge population of the country. Besides ensuring proper management and availability of extra beds, ventilators and other life-supporting facilities in the hospitals with requisite number of doctors and supporting staff, quarantine centers were also established all over the country to separate the possibly infected people from the not-so infected lot to contain the pandemic. With that continuing effort, the overall situation in India is far better as compared to most of the highly advanced countries of Europe and the U.S.
As the long spell of lockdown has adversely affected the daily wage-earners and many other weaker sections in the country, the government properly is looking after them by providing food, medicine and reasonable economic help to mitigate their woes. Modi has also appealed to all countrymen to donate to the Prime Minister Cares Fund needed for providing help to thousands of millions of needy people and that has led to massive outpouring of largesse by rich and competent countrymen and charitable trusts of several temples, besides many other organizations, government employees, and even common people.
Such is the en-mass effect of his appeal towards arousing confidence and assurance among all countrymen that the entire nation has taken it as an opportunity for offering service towards humanity. Following the true spirit of vasudhaiv kutumbakam and reflecting statesmanship, Modi has extended magnanimous help to not only neighboring countries in South Asia but also to the U.S. and a few European countries by providing medicine and dispatching Indian doctors.
Thus, the visionary leadership of Modi is now being recognized not only in India but also in the whole world and by the WHO as well. His all-out successful efforts to contain the epidemic has earned him the top position with a 68% of rating among a global ranking of leaders, while the most powerful leader in the world, U.S. President Donald Trump, has ranked just 3rd position, thereby signifying the marked contrast between the two and underscoring the Indian leadership’s success story accomplished for this end. Nonetheless, long queues of alcoholics all over the country is now another serious threat to the ongoing fight against the pandemic, besides massive transportation of workers and laborers stranded in metros or elsewhere, which together may undo the credible achievements so far, due to not obeying the mandatory social distancing or being a probable Corona carrier.
Notwithstanding all these, there may be a few exceptions to the contrary due to various unaddressed aspirations and expectations of the countrymen, yet India has, so far, significantly managed to overcome the otherwise worst stage of the most dangerous menace due to self-confidence and self-reliance of the competent, distinct and pragmatic leadership of Modi. But the fight against this epidemic is not over as yet nor is going to end in the near future, and that demands patience and perseverance and also strict adherence to all precautions by the countrymen while consistently strengthening the hands of the national leadership. Because together we the people can definitely win perhaps the toughest battle of the century as nothing is beyond the human endeavor.
(The author is a professor of political science at The U.P. Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Prayagra, in U.P., India.)