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Corona and the ‘American’ disaster - April 22, 2020

The COVID-19 caused by Coronavirus may have changed the entire lifestyle for almost everyone in the world, has put the global economy on the crutches and even changed the outlook of world towards the materialism or consumerism etc etc. But most important, the fight against corona showed the real strength of political willpower and political leadership of many countries.

India, one of the most populous countries, and next door neighbour of China where this pandemic was born, is trying her level best to stop the spread and achieved a great deal in this fight so far.

Now, the center of pandemic shifted from China. It spread through the entire globe while USA faced a major outspread of this pandemic along with Iran, Italy and other European countries. With about 8 lakh confirmed cases and more than 40,000 deaths, the world is closely watching how the United States is fighting, or not fighting, this battle. On the other hand, President of the United States, Donald Trump is trying his best to convert the issue into his so called uncompromising fight against China. At the same time, his political opponents are optimistic about pandemic’s electoral effects as government machinery in the United States is still struggling to cope up with the situation.

The United States is known for her spirit to fight against any odds in its path. The US had a glorious tradition of having a strong and powerful political leadership. However, Donald Trump is really not proved to be a match to his predecessors as far as handling of the Coronavirus crisis is concerned. He is trying to give optimism to Americans for believing in their government without even having proper facts or proper plans for fighting this crisis. In his Sunday Briefing about pandemic, Trump used videos and articles lauding him for his efforts in fighting this crisis. Obviously, his critics dubbed the move as a ‘campaign gimmick’. In reality, the efforts put by the US Federal government are neither effective nor proving to be confidence-boosters for their own citizens and government officials.

The WHO declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on January 30, nearly a month before Trump tweeted that "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA" and a full 43 days before he declared a national emergency in the United States. Now, President Trump is spending his time much on repairing his own image by disguising his belated and faulty response to the emergency. It is true that no one could have predicted every twist of this crisis nor could have visualized the enormity of the political and economic upheaval that has overtaken the world’s number one power. It is also true that not all failings in testing and supplies are personally Trump's fault. Yet, one thing is so much clear that Donald Trump ‘missed the call’ in fighting the coronavirus. He blamed WHO for late warning or not planning properly to fight this on a global level. But in reality, Donald Trump misunderstood the danger of this crisis and put America in grave danger.

Americans are very proud of the leadership they had provided to the world through many crises since early years of 20th century. In fact, their exemplary leadership made them the world leader. But this time, Trump’s lack of crisis comprehension led the United States into the trap of complacency resulting into heavy loss of life and destruction of economy.

There are many critics criticizing India’s method to fight this virus, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for ‘Tali-vadan’ or ‘Diya lightening’ But no one could deny the credit to the Prime Minister to keep the moral of the people high and to ensure their faith in government. President Donald Trump, unfortunately, could not learn the leadership mantra from his good friend Shri Narendra Modi and his country is paying heavy price for it.

- Prof. Sharayu Bapat