'We Have No Data': Govt's Answers To Questions On Job Losses, Migrant Exodus, Death Of COVID Warriors
Writer: Navya Singh (Senior Video Journalist)
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India, 21 Sep 2020 2:44 PM GMT | Updated 24 Sep 2020 7:48 AM GMTcheck update history
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'No such data is maintained' has become a recurring answer to almost all questions posed by the Opposition in the Parliament recently.
Ever since the outbreak of Coronavirus in India, the government failed to collect data on migrants who lost their lives amid the nationwide lockdown, student deaths, death of health workers who succumbed to the deadly virus and so much more. While the government wishes to monitor and track every movement of ours, it unfortunately forgot to maintain data about issues that are currently grappling the nation.
The Centre has received immense backlash for failing to record or provide data on almost everything amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The criticism has just grown as the data available in the public domain points to the lackadaisical approach of the government.
Ever since the Monsoon Session of Parliament began, the government has denied maintaining record of any data on issues pertaining to public interest. 'No such data is maintained' has become a recurring answer to almost all questions posed by the Opposition in the Parliament recently.
Data On Student Suicides? No
The government denied having any data on student suicides during the lockdown after DMK MP Kanimozhi had asked the government for data regarding student suicides amid the lockdown citing lack of access to online education.
Data On Migrant Deaths? No
On September 14, the Union Labour Ministry said that there is no data on migrant deaths so there is no question of compensation. This admission by the centre received a lot of flak as it showed how the centre ignored the plight of the masses who were compelled to walk thousands of kilometres to go back home when the nationwide lockdown was announced earlier this year in March.
The journey, for many, was fatal as many lost their lives while on their way back home. Not since Partition has India seen mass exodus on this scale, as helpless and jobless workers walked back to their homes, clutching their babies and meagre possessions in their arms.
Many were crushed to death by trains, trucks while some died of starvation. But, the government has no data.
Attacking the centre, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "You did not count, does that mean they did not die?"
Data On Number Of MSMEs Shut ? No
The centre later claimed that it possesses no record of the number of medium and small businesses (MSME) that have shut down during the pandemic.
The Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), when asked about the number of small and medium businesses that shut shop from March to August 2020, told the Rajya Sabha, "COVID-19 epidemic has temporarily affected various sectors including micro, small scale enterprises which also affected job scenario. No such record is available."
In another shocker, the minister admitted that there was no data on the number of MSMEs closed down from FY 2014-15 to FY 2019-20 either.
Data On Death Of Health Workers? No
Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey in response to a question on the number of healthcare staff, including doctors, nurses, support staff and ASHA workers, affected by the deadly virus, said that health is a state subject and "such data is not maintained at central level."
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) accused the government of "indifference", "abdication" and "abandonment of heroes". According to the IMA Covid-19 data, as many as 2,238 doctors were infected with the disease and of them 382 lost their lives.
"If the government doesn't maintain the statistics of the total number of doctors and healthcare workers infected by Covid- 19 and the statistics of how many of them sacrificed their life due to the pandemic, it loses the moral authority to administer the Epidemic Act 1897 and the Disaster Management Act," the IMA said.
Data On Plasma Banks? No
"Convalescent plasma therapy has not been recommended by the Ministry of Health as a mainstay of COVID-19 therapy and there is no proposal under consideration to set up plasma banks," Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey informed the Rajya Sabha.
The minister said that the states have taken initiative to establish such banks to provide plasma therapy to COVID-19 patients but "no central database of such banks is maintained."
The minister was responding to a question on the total number of plasma banks running at present to provide plasma therapy to the COVID-19 patients in the country state-wise and if the government proposes to set up more plasma banks to tackle the virus in the country.
Data On Murder Of RTI Activists? No
In response to a question by K. Shamugasundaram of the DMK, the government said it had "no data on RTI activists murdered in the country and the implementation of the Whistleblower protection scheme by various states."
Data On India's Rank On World Corruption List? No
The centre, in response to a question asked by TMC's Sunil Kumar Mondal said that it maintained "no data on India's position in the list of corrupt countries in the world".
Transparency International's annual list for 2019 had ranked India at 80th spot on its Corruption Perceptions Index, a drop of two ranks from 2018. The organisation had referred to the problem with electoral bonds and questioned "unfair and opaque political financing".
Data On Political Prisoners In Jails? No
Government also admitted that it has no data to provide on number of political prisoners under trial in response to CPI Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Visvam's question.
"This information is not maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which compiles prison statistics reported to it by States and Union Territories, and publishes it in its annual report 'Prison Statistics India'," it said.
Data On Police Personnel Who Died Of COVID? No
The home ministry told the Lok Sabha that the Centre did not maintain data of police personnel who had died of COVID-19.
"Non-maintenance of such data indicated the families of such personnel had not received any compensation from the Central government," Livelaw reported.
Data On Police Brutality Amid Lockdown? No
The home ministry told the Rajya Sabha it maintained "no data on the excessive police measures taken during lockdown which led to harassment/injury/death of individuals."
Minister of State G Kishen Reddy data said such complaints and cases was not maintained centrally since police and public order were State subjects.
While individuals, groups and organisations decided to take that extra mile and collect crucial data pertaining to loss of human lives and jobs amid the lockdown, the government conveniently washed their hands off these necessary responsibilities.
The centre calls that the monsoon session of the Parliament 'productive', however, the it has become a mere legislative formality and has failed to hold the government accountable.
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