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By Syed Ali Mujtaba, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, NewYork, TIO: Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama is an American political scientist, political economist, and a demi-god to the students of International Relations world over. In his recent essay ‘The Pandemic and Political Order- It Takes a State’ in the July/August 2020 Volume of Foreign Affairs, the celebrated writer has come with some poignant analysis of the responses of different countries to the global pandemics COVID 19.
The author of the book ‘The End of History and the Last Man,’ (1992), Francis Fukuyama in the current essay says many things about how different states are dealing with the novel virus. However, the nugget of his wisdom is his comment that the knowledge base of the governments is directly proportional to their response to deal with the novel virus.
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What the well-respected author is trying to say is the global pandemic has unmasked the governing capacity of those currently in power and as the virus has put a test to their knowledge base. As such the responses to the Covid-19 are as per the limitation of their knowledge base.
Now if we apply this hypothesis of Fukuyama on the Indian ruling elite and try to probe a little their knowledge base, we can get the answer why their response to such a catastrophe so far has been so squinted.
We all know the knowledge base of our politicians. The educational qualifications of some of them are a national shame. Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi is a BA in Political Science from the School of Open Learning, University of Delhi. He graduated with a third class in 1978. The educational qualification of the Union minister Smriti Irani is only 10 + 2. Now when only one owl is sufficient to ruin a garden, when there is an owl at every branch, God only knows the fate of the garden!
Bas ek hi ullu kaafi hai barbaad gulistan karne ko, har shaakh pe ullu baitha hai anjaame gulistan kya hoga…
The counter-argument put forward to cover the deficiencies of the political figures are, the politicians are advised by our bureaucrats whose knowledge base is supra high.
Now if we probe the knowledge base of the Indian bureaucracy supposedly the backbone of the knowledge base of the country many may concur that these ‘Babus’ knowledge base stops growing once they pass the civil service exams. Thereafter their effort is engaged in playing the ‘2+2= 5 number game.’ This means their priority is the promotion and pay scale and not to enhance the knowledge base.
Further, these bureaucrats are posted in different capacities with different hobs, and by the time they gain some knowledge of a given area they are being transferred. This makes them a jack of all and master of none. In sum, the knowledge base of the steel frame of India is quite shallow their advice to the political leadership is corresponding to their knowledge base.
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Now, if such is the character and composition of the knowledge base of the ruling elite of the country then their response to deal with the COVID -19 could be equated with a parable; ‘the Blind Men and an Elephant.’
So this is the dilemma of the Indian ruling elite in dealing with the novel virus. Industrialist Rajiv Bajaj has succinctly summed up this when he taunted that the government has flattened the wrong curve!
This is exactly what Francis Fukuyama was talking about when he makes the point that the poor knowledge base of the ruling elite is directly responsible for the mismanagement of the problem of the global pandemic.
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Fukuyama goes on to make a statement about China where he says that even as the Chinese ruling elite was the first to face the heat of the pandemics, they showed extraordinary reflexes to deal with the problem. This reflects on the knowledge base of their ruling elite. However, other governments were sitting with the problem until it started knocking their doors. Their decisions to deal with the problem exposed their knowledge base.
As far as India is concerned, the world health organization (WHO) has been issuing warnings about the corona-virus attack since November 2019. No one from the ruling elite of India took it seriously and thought of doing anything about dealing with the virus.
Even after three months, that’s on January 30, 2020, when WHO issued the sixth warming and the first case confirmed case was reported in Thrissur district of Kerala, the ruling elite of India never woke up to the simmering reality.
The month of February was lost in the preparation of the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Gujarat. Then in March, the government was busy till 21st, when it was engaged in toppling the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh.
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It is only from March 25, 2020, that the government has got serious about dealing with pandemics. What best the government thought in the best of the wisdom is to totally lock down the country for the next 54 days. As the virus spurred in this period it shows its utter failure in dealing with the virus. This ill-conceived government response not even slowed down the attack of the pandemics but what the ruling elite did was to simply take India’s GDP in their hands and threw it down the cliff.
This is the rarest kind of human rascality in the contemporary history of the world. As Indians, we are all witnesses to this era. The responsibility of committing such a disaster can be fixed on the poor knowledge of the ruling class of India. The pandemic has exposed the knowledge base of the Indian government.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com