What would you do?

Picture credit: Pixabay

Leaders are working with imperfect information

Everything we know about Covid -19 is tentative. Take for example the question — How infectious would it be in India? There are estimates based on how fast it spread in China and Italy. But a leader in India cannot take those estimates as given. The infectiousness may decrease with heat and humidity. It may also be lower than it is in Italy as our population is relatively younger. But, our density of population is very high and as stories such as that of Tablighi Jamaat have shown, we may not be able to persuade people to practice social distancing very strictly.

You are not choosing between a good and bad alternative but between two bad alternatives

When should the Indian government have imposed the lockdown? There is no right answer for this question. If you leave it too late, a very large number of people could be infected and would in turn infect others. If you do it too early, then it is likely that many citizens would be unprepared for it. Also, if you do it too early, it is likely that people do not take it seriously because they have not seen or heard of people in their neighborhoods get infected and die. This is true nearly all over the world. People in Italy did not learn from China and people in US did not learn from Italy. We can be sure that residents of Maharashtra will not learn from US and nor will Biharis learn from Maharashtrians.

India is large and complex

The country has twenty eights states. Many of them are larger than prominent nations. Uttar Pradesh, our most populous state, has nearly as many people as Brazil! The country all together has 6,00,000 villages and more than 4,000 towns. This means that all decisions are being implemented one or more of the central government, the state government and the relevant local body. Most of the rural local bodies are powerless and understaffed. Many of the urban local bodies are also understaffed too. The municipalities of a town of one hundred thousand people could have only a score of employees and may be in no position to execute decisions.

Criticism is very necessary

Focused criticism can make the government act. If there are pockets or even large areas where people are undergoing extraordinary difficulties, criticism will help force the governments to assist them. The focus of media on the plight of migrants probably helped all the relevant governments to take steps to help them reach home.

So what do we do?

If you are criticizing government actions all the time, while not acknowledging the complexity of the situation, the chances are that nobody is listening to you outside your bubble. Just like nobody reads the posts of hard-core supporters of governments outside their bubble. Your criticism needs to be rationed and nuanced to be credible.

Post Script

I believe that the following three categories should be exempt from the requirement of Credible Criticism

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Yogesh Upadhyaya

Yogesh Upadhyaya

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Entrepreneur. Economist. Investor. Actor. Technophile. Policy wonk. Comedian. I love to explore places where these worlds intersect.