Leadership may be hard to define, but it is simple to recognise when the enemy is Coronavirus and the responsibility to fight it is on the state government. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has demonstrated resolve and decision making, reflected in slowing down the impact of the disease.
“Facts are facts. Bihar not only accounts for over 9 per cent of the population but is also the most densely populated state. Besides, more than two million people returned to Bihar in an unprecedented wave of reverse migration. The state had all the conditions for a massive breakout of the disease. But Bihar has defied the odds. The state has 1 per cent of total active cases and only 0.37 per cent of total Covid deaths. Bihar’s recovery rate is 77 per cent, almost 19 per cent more than the national average,” said Cabinet Minister Ashok Choudhary. “The credit for Bihar’s success against Covid goes to CM Kumar’s leadership. He has been meticulous and steady, as he has been monitoring the Covid-19 situation on a realtime basis. Nitishji has filled in the critical gaps with timely actions, besides taking decisions that saved lives,” he said.
Kumar has been proactive from the beginning. It was on March 12 – as many as 13 days before the national lockdown was enforced on March 25 — when Bihar CM ordered the closure of all schools, movie theatres, parks, coaching institutions, besides cancelling celebrations of Bihar Foundation Day. Though Bihar’s first Covid case surfaced on March 22 — Kumar clearly started much earlier, enforcing social distancing, guiding bureaucrats and doctors, helping vulnerable people with a financial cushion, besides executing plans to contain the spread.
The CM faced his first major test when more than 1.75 lakh workers reached Bihar within three days of the Lockdown 1.0 being imposed. The need of the hour was swift action and the state acted with alacrity in setting up quarantine camps, besides ensuring medical care. A fortnight later, when these 1.75 lakh people left their respective quarantine centres, not a single one was reported to be Covid-19 positive.
The Nitish government has also taken salary cuts and shifted the discretionary quota funds of all legislators to create a fund of Rs 180 crore for Covid-19 support. This fund is being used by the Health Department to purchase medicines and equipment. To top it all, a poor state like Bihar has spent as much as Rs 8,538 crore to fight Covid: 80 per cent of it has gone as Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) to the vulnerable people of Bihar.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)