A group of retired bureaucrats, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called for compassion in government policy besides adequate administrative measures while tackling the COVID-19 outbreak.
The retired All-India and Central service officers, a total of 116, jointly under the banner of Constitutional conduct Group wrote an elaborate account mentioning the reasons for the deadly second phase of the pandemic and the steps that can be taken to minimise the damage.
They pointed out that the central government did not pay attention to the warnings from the international community as well as the country's scientists. The pre-vaccination period was not used to strengthen the existing healthcare facilities or to augment critical resources. Moreover, there was a lack of effective planning to secure the stock of vaccines.
Once hailed for being Atmanirbhar, the country had been forced to look for aid from foreign countries.
The officers stated that the Modi government had allowed complacency in its approach towards handling the crisis which also let the state governments and the public to lower their guard.
"Compassion and caring have to be the cornerstones of government policy. History will judge our society, your government and, above all, you personally, on how effectively we handle this crisis," reported The Hindu.
Former Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, former Chief Economic Advisor Nitin Desai, former Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, former National Security Advisor and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and former Health Secretary K. Sujatha Rao were some of the signatories.
What Should Be Done?
The officers laid down a number of suggestions to improve the existing conditions.
The union government should centralise the procurement of vaccines and allocate them to the state governments. There should be a provision of free universal vaccination for all citizens. Similar to the relief measures announced last year, they should provide monthly income support for the needy.
The group had also asked the government to remove the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) restrictions placed on the NGOs to avail funds from foreign governments and other charitable institutions.