16 January 2021 10:38 PM

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RASHMI OBEROI | 4 JANUARY, 2021

And The Show Must Go On...

The news is not good


Here we are, in the first week of a brand new sparkling year… Full of hope and dreams…yet laced with anticipation and a tinge of worry. We have all stepped into 2021 with great learnings and wisdom gained from the past year. A conclusion that I have had to rethink as was what I thought and expected (natural reaction isn’t it?) let me down immensely. My perfectly shaped bubble of positivity and enthusiasm was burst by news filtering in from all corners of India.

GOA: It was business; I mean party-time as usual with no visible signs of the pandemic even existing. The ghastly tourists from far and wide have once again left their footprints, in this case, tons of garbage and filth all across the state… Partied like there was no tomorrow and it appeared that these revellers had no clue about the pandemic that the world is still facing and battling.

REPUBLIC DAY PARADE: Are we still going ahead with this after all that India has been through? I spoke to a number of people across the board and some who are part of the parade drill and it hasn’t been an easy task for any of them managing the training aspect. Every day, there is one or more cadet who turns out to be corona positive and then the whole rigmarole of contact tracing, testing and isolating the others has to be done (150 or more army jawans have contracted the virus during rehearsals).

All this at what cost? A sheer wastage of time, energy and resources. Positive cases have been rampant as there is no social distancing taking place during practice marches and rehearsals. Reducing spectators from 1,00,000 to 25,000 is not the solution. A shorter parade and reduced contingents is the most ludicrous answer. Squads with 96 participants instead of 144 doesn’t solve the issue in any sense. We still have a crowd of people who will be following no social distancing norms.

This is a sure shot way to increase our already crazy numbers hit by COVID-19 and not curb the spread. The Government obviously lives on another planet in my opinion or loves to turn a blind eye to problems that stare at you in your face.

PM BORIS JOHNSON: What a splendid time to invite the PM of a country that is in doldrums thanks to the pandemic and is now further hit by a new strain of COVID-19. This is really not the time to invite foreign dignitaries to our country. Have we forgotten what occurred post President Trump’s visit with his entourage who came to India in February last year? It cannot be denied that the spread of coronavirus is linked to this huge mega show last year which eventually led us to a complete lockdown that impacted everyone in huge proportions negatively and was a disaster for our nation.

CENTRAL VISTA: There has been strong criticism from several quarters, much of it centred on the cost of the central vista project and whether undertaking a project such as this is appropriate at a time when the economy is suffering. The plan is for India’s new parliament building, part of the Modi government’s ambitious central vista project which entails building and refurbishing the government buildings on part of the 3.5km stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. Due to this, there are a batch of petitions in the Supreme Court opposing the proposed change in land usage of the Central Vista. It is pertinent to ask if new buildings at this juncture can fix our problems at large?

ECONOMY: The technical recession that we are in today, can do without spending on the Republic Day shenanigans, Central Vista projects etc. There is already a significant burden on the exchequer. Our priority at this moment must be on reviving our sinking economy.

India is the biggest democracy in the world, but in between this, we cannot forget everyday issues, which continue to pose hurdles in the progress of the nation. These social, political and economic issues need to be taken into consideration first. Corruption, Illiteracy, Education, Basic Sanitation, Healthcare System, Poverty, Pollution, Women’s Safety, Infrastructure, Unemployment, Agricultural Distress to name a few should be on top priority with battling the pandemic topping the list.

Finally, the call by the protesting farmers to hold a tractor parade on January 26, in Delhi if their demands are not met should hopefully wake the government up from their slumber. That will be a Republic Day Parade that will surely go down in history!

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