Please read with my earlier article Indian Leadership Vs Chinese Virus.

Who is leading Delhi out of this crisis? The PM? The HM? The CM? The SC? The HC? The LG?   Delhi, our national capital seems to be a rudderless boat adrift in a storm.  Leaderless would be more apt. As it is Delhi is polluted and asthmatic. This is now compounded by the pulmonary character of the Chinese virus. The published test positivity rate is over 32% but actually could be as high as 50% ( graph below). Every alternate tested person could be positive. People are losing lives which was avoidable. Stories coming out of Delhi are horrendous. There is rampant black marketing of anything to do with Corona – oxygen, testing, Remdesivir, hospital bed, ambulances, funerals…The problem seems to be only worsening with a vial of Remdesivir now costing anything between Rs 30000- 40000 in black. This now beyond the issue of India’s Image etc…All this black marketing and racketeering is happening under the nose of the national leadership! What a shame!  


The fact that the government chose to ignore the problem is now more than apparent. The Timeline graphic above is ample proof of that. In Nov-Dec the virulent UK and South African variants made their appearance.  By the first week of Jan, USA , UK and SA were having their peaks (see graphs below). With the kind of people connect we have with these countries, it was only a matter of time that these variants would land at our doorstep. It was fundamental sense Mr Watson. Where were the Sherlock Holmes’ of all the empowered committees? These high powered failures must have had all this data with them.  In fact, the winter session of the Parliament was closed due to the then prevalent Covid situation. However, it is strange that our lawmakers went ahead with the Kumbh Mela and Elections in the form they were held. Our less than moralistic but opportunist opposition sided with the farmers with their agitation to conflagrate the virus situation. All the parliamentarians wanted to save their own skins but put to risk the lives of millions. Great leaders! Why were not these super spreader events made virtual?  An expert committee outside the empowered committees of the Government flagged the risk of the second wave as per reports and it was ignored. By the third week of March, cases started spiking in Mumbai (see graph below). Reports surfaced  of a virulent variant from the Vidharba region. Did anyone investigate them? It was only logical that the situation will spread to other metros and definitely Delhi. Yet it is now beyond doubt that we threw caution to winds and did exactly the opposite. I am not an expert. However, even an imbecile, if given this Timeline, would have unhesitatingly pointed a finger in the right direction. Our leaders and the Government have lived in a bubble of surreal thinking and the political greed of victory in polls. It is a pyrrhic victory for all those who have won in the polls. Even when cases started to go up in Delhi , we did not react. The Tu Tu Main Main between the kabbadi teams of the Central Government, State Government, Political Parties and Judiciary is playing havoc with the people who are running from pillar to post. This havoc has now descended into utter chaos. The fact that deaths due to lack of Oxygen are still happening in leading hospitals, six days after the alarm bells have sounded reinforce this fact. I have never seen such a sad state of our capital.   


Delhi is my capital. It is the place where all of us Indians look up to. The whole world looks at it. Delhi cannot go down. It is indeed so demoralising that the central and state leadership have abdicated their responsibilities and are only busy blaming each other. The stories in the social and unsocial media are not polished / burnished / manufactured any more. They are not political in nature. The stories are about death, despair, helplessness, and a tragic situation never witnessed before. They are real life situations of people whom we have known for a long time. They are last time talks of dying people. They are leaving dark voids in many of our memories and these voids are being filled by aversion of the current ruling and opposition class. The growth of the black market indicates the increasingly colossal failure. The invisibility of the government is astounding when four hundred people are dying a day. When New York was in  crisis last year, the Governor was briefing the public and media daily. When Mumbai and Maharastra are in a spin, their CM and key officials are visible in public. They are tackling issues head on despite the grave condition. People are with them. It is palpable to me sitting in Chennai. Talking of Chennai, Remdesivir is being made available through a makeshift PDS at government cost. One has to stand in a queue for 3-5 hours. So be it. It is at least available. I can vouch for it since the queues at Kilpauk Medical College where Remdesivir is being sold extend to near my house (since the past five days)!  The price is  ₹1,565 (including GST) per dose. Why can’t such fundamental things be done in Delhi?  Why do hospitals have to go to courts even now? Why should the central and state government not ensure that adequate oxygen is available? Why has testing not been ramped up? Why have RWAs and flats not been told to convert their clubhouses into Covid holding facilities with doctors resident in the societies looking after the residents there?  This has been done in many places. Why are RWAs not been co-opted in the struggle? They can generate organisation and quell panic. When a retired brigadier in Delhi asks the question on 02 May 21– who is the minister of health? – it reflects the utter state of irrelevance of the individual.      


The nation needs discipline, organisation and leadership to take the situation in hand. Some tough and resolute action is needed. The leadership will have to step forward and stop the blame game. There are enough constitutional and inclusive methods to tackle the problem. I am sure there are enough provisions in the disaster management act to handle the situation more proactively. A medical emergency can be declared. Treatment of people can shift into their neighbourhoods with only serious patients being brought to hospitals. The PHC system should turn into the intermediary of Covid care. Delhi can be vaccinated on a mass scale. Why not suspend vaccination of 18 -plus for now? It was anyway a hollow announcement without vaccines. I am sure there are more measures to stem the tide.       


Do our ‘elected’ and ‘want to be elected class’ have it in them to stand up to the problem? There is enough in public domain and memory which will not be erased by spin doctoring. The dominant perception is that the elected and unelected leaders have let us down. There are no saviours around. Even our gods are deserting us. All this can only be corrected by saving people and also being seen to be doing so. Unless people are saved the leaders will not be saved. The dead will then speak from the graves. 



7 responses to “WHO IS LEADING DELHI OUT OF THIS CRISIS? by Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)”

  1. An apt review of situation sir. Prayers for normalacy

  2. Very hard hitting but true

  3. A very forthright and honest views.

  4. A very correct perspective and hard questions asked.Hope the people whom it is directed at,get to read or listen and act proactively. Saving lives is of utmost importance now.Politics and blame games can wait. Sad commentary on the leadership and ownership in this country. Dilip.

  5. Excellent piece. We need to look ahead and take control over the situation. The civil administration, down to the lowest level, needs to shake out and get into the act. They know what is required to be done in their respective jurisdictions. I don’t think they need orders. As far as where we went wrong … we don’t like winning as team India.

  6. First step in solving a problem is acceptance of the bare facts without colouring them. This piece brings out those. Hope wisdom prevails.

  7. One thing that sticks out is that an hospital which ran out of oxygen sends SOS six hours before it is going to run out of oxygen next time. What sort of nonsense is this?

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