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TOI EDIT-Mantri Can Go While his co-flyers cool their heels in quarantine, a minister activates his VIP virus shield

May 27, 2020 06:52 AM


Mantri Can Go
While his co-flyers cool their heels in quarantine, a minister activates his VIP virus shield
Union chemicals and fertilisers minister DV Sadananda Gowda’s claim that quarantines do not apply to him as minister, later ratified by a forbearing Karnataka government through an appropriate change in the state’s quarantine rules, smacks of VIP mentality. Like Gowda, lakhs of Indian citizens would like to emerge from the lockdown and resume travel for work, family or recreational reasons. But most are not doing so, repelled by quarantine requirements especially in institutional facilities. However, those are the rules framed by authorities acknowledging the coronavirus as no respecter of rank and authority.

With exceptions carved out for ministers and government officers on duty, a bevy of public servants and private citizens with political influence can be expected to join the chorus for VIP treatment. Rules related to safeguarding public health cannot be different for people alighting from the same flight. Those pursuing business opportunities or those travelling for personal emergency reasons can have as good a rationale, economic or humanitarian, to be excused from quarantining. In today’s technology mediated workplace, there is virtually nothing a minister cannot remotely monitor from Delhi.

Dominic Cummings, a top aide of British PM Boris Johnson, has scandalised the country by flouting lockdown rules to drive over 400 kms to his parents’ house, and a minister has been forced to resign. Contrast this to India where the rules have to change, not the minister or his ways. Given the Gowda precedent, states should look at exemptions for all people making short duration trips or more such violations are bound to follow. Such exemptions would make travel and economic reopening a lot simpler. Perhaps, quarantines should be restricted only to primary contacts of persons testing positive when the country fully reopens. Minister Gowda may concur

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