IASbhai Editorial Hunt | Lockdown vs Civil Rights | COVID-19 | UPSC
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EDITORIAL 32:“COVID-19: Many tasks at hand“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
Padmashree Gehl Sampath
PhD, is an expert on development economics
COVID-19: Many tasks at hand
India has a formidable challenge ahead as it needs to control the disease, combat misinformation and protect civil liberties
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Diseases
Poor and Privatisation have already been excluded in our Market Economy.Discuss solution which can handle crisis like COVID-19.
This Article will make you understand
- Lockdown vs Civil Rights of any citizen.
- How poor should be safeguarded in pandemic.
- What other countries are doing at the same time.
All this is justifiable given that its high population density makes ‘social distancing’ difficult.
Also, a vast number of people depend on public healthcare, so tracking the spread of the disease is a formidable challenge.
But to truly contain this pandemic, we need to make a distinction between scientific information that can support a balanced epidemiological (relating to the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases.)response and misinformation that will adversely affect our efforts.
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
From an epidemiological perspective, the weakest links during a pandemic are testing, control, and engaged community participation.
HEALTH CARE REVAMP
Shore up the healthcare system and, as the World Health Organization has recommended, create capacity in hospitals (public and private) for everyone who shows symptoms to access testing facilities.
Providing full and free testing to all who need it is critical for effectively controlling the spread.
The variable (or differing) experiences of Italy, France, Switzerland and the U.S. highlight that COVID-19 tests and treatment should particularly be available and accessible to people in high-risk groups (those suffering from HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, or have underlying medical conditions) and from low-income backgrounds.
The poor — whom privatisation and the market economy have systematically excluded — will now be the weakest link in any effort to contain the virus.
The inexorable rise of fake news is a big threat to engaged community participation and public morale.
COVID-19 is already deeply affecting economic activity, and fake videos linking its spread to the meat and poultry sector have led to a low demand for these products and, consequently, large-scale losses.
Advocating particular cures or linking the virus to factors such as stress without underlying scientific evidence can cause a lot of damage as such misinformation creates confusion
- This prevents communities from following instructions from authorities and being united against the threat.
- Fake news also diverts attention from grim realities.
Sharing information on how we can address these issues and promoting democratic deliberations should become a policy and social priority.
A crucial role of the government at this time is to offset panic, and to promote a sense of solidarity, stability and confidence.
There can be no room for empty political statements and no space for errors.
There is also the risk that in the guise of disease tracking and control, we will fall into the trap of eroding more civil liberties.
Lockdowns, curfews and travel bans are already a suppression of civil rights.
For example, is it logical to suspend rights of our own people to return in case of absolute necessity, and does the epidemiological reason justify separating people from their families for any amount of time?
The U.S., a democracy, has many checks and balances in place to ensure that this kind of data is not misused, but India does not.
As we move ahead, we need to employ mechanisms that tackle the pandemic no doubt, but do so while protecting civil and personal rights of citizens.
Indians therefore need guarantees that the use of surveillance in the name of disease control does not end up serving other purposes, now or in the future.