India’s critical institutions have let down country during COVID-19 crisis: SC lawyer Dushyant Dave

New Delhi: All of India’s critical and leading institutions have let down the country during the present COVID-19 crisis, even though it is by far the worst crisis faced by India since independence. This is the view of one of the country’s foremost lawyers and a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Dushyant Dave.

In a 33-minute interview to Karan Thapar for the Wire, Dushyant Dave was particularly critical of the Modi govt’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Mr Dave said “Modi is doing everything to fail.” He said the govt’s failure to anticipate a second wave and prepare for it, when second waves have happened in almost all European countries and the US and been far worse than the first, was “a criminal failure.” He said the govt had “failed disastrously”.

Comparing the Modi govt to a private sector company’s response to a widely predictable crisis, Mr Dave said if a private company had been similarly irresponsible all its directors would have been arrested.

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Mr Dave told The Wire Mr Modi never anticipated the magnitude of the problem and was therefore never prepared to handle it. In particular, he criticized the govt’s failure to come up with a proper national disaster management plan to handle the crisis.

Speaking about the govt’s failure to stop election rallies and shahi snans, Mr Dave said Mr Modi had ignored the interests of India because of his obsession with West Bengal and his determination to defeat Mamata Banerjee.

Speaking about the govt’s failure to sharply ramp up vaccine production so India has enough vaccines for its 1.38 billion people, Mr Dave said Mr Modi had done a great disservice to the country but also to himself because he had now lost his image as a strong and decisive leader.  

In the Wire interview, Dushyant Dave also criticized state govts who he said have “miserably failed across the country in terms of testing.” He said health is a state subject and this is a “singular failure” on the part of state govts.

Mr Dave was also sharply critical of the Supreme Court. He said it has been “a silent spectator” for the last few weeks and failed to live upto and fulfill its constitutional duties. He added “they know damn well what these duties are.”

Mr Dave accused the Election Commission of partisan behaviour and acting to further the interests of the Modi govt. He said it should have insisted on a virtual election campaign and ensured that the voting was complete in either one day or a very short time frame. 

Finally, Mr Dave was also very critical of the Indian media. He said the media “has definitely let the country down”. He said, with a few exceptions, the media’s coverage of the COVID-19 crisis was “completely myopic”. He said the media has “a great responsibility” but barring very few “it did not fulfill it.”