24 patients at a hospital in Chamarajanagar have died as the oxygen flow ran out. The hospital CIMS is facing a ten-fold increase in the demand for oxygen. No one in the government has understood the gravity of the situation we face, in many small towns across India.
We have concentrated even the minimal physical infrastructure for everything in a few large cities. There is a massive drop-off in almost everything even 20-30 km outside the top 3 to 5 cities. And being a large state, distance slows down the response to crises everywhere.
There was more interest shown by the government and the opposition in the bye elections in a few constituencies. It's the same story everywhere - nothing deters their attention from politics and power. The consequences are borne by ordinary citizens, paying with their lives.
Some years ago, I visited Magadi municipal council and spoke with the leadership there. They are barely a stone's throw from Bengaluru, and yet their perception of being ignored was very high. The governance distance from power grows exponentially with actual distance.
Those who wield Central and State power by denying the local councils and the districts their rights to govern themselves at their scales can never do anything good for the country. By the very structure they embrace, they becomes hostile to the welfare of the people.
Lots of people ask, 'but what can we do now?'. That's like asking, how can I catch the bus that has gone? But there are things we can do, at district scale, or at least at regional scale, by working CLOSELY with local industry in a COOPERATIVE way.

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More from @ashwinmahesh

4 May
Every once in a while, we hit a moment in our politics when it's useful to revisit 'federalism'. Two winning CM-designate leaders have now written to the PM, urging cooperative federalism. But what is this federalism? Here's the unroll from The Federal Manifesto I put together.
1. Federalism must be a first principle of organising administration, resources, responsibilities, powers, etc. between different levels of government. Wherever there are choices to be made between alternatives, the most federal choice should receive primacy over others.
2. Each district should have an elected government covering both rural and urban areas. Most services currently provided by the state governments should be devolved to districts, and a guaranteed share of state revenues should devolve to them.
Read 12 tweets
2 May
Scarcity is the main weapon of the corrupt. They maintain a limited supply of most things (housing, doctors, crematoriums, public transport, schools ... all sorts of things) so that there is a scramble for these things, and a queue of ppl pleading for help. Rent-seeking follows.
In normal times, people stretch themselves to get by with this, for many reasons (time, bandwidth, disregard, resignation). But these are not normal times. There's no getting by without oxygen and ventilators and drugs. But scarcities don't disappear overnight.
Electoral competitions between rent-seekers is not going to fix this problem. We need governments committed to abundance, in a public way. Leaders must dramatically increase the inputs to development - education and health facilities, and paths to livelihoods in different ways.
Read 5 tweets
1 May
Now the Bamar majority wants to join hands with the ethnic minorities in Myanmar to tackle the military. For all these years, the same majority cheered the persecution of minorities, but now that soliders are shooting at them too .... change of heart? No. Calculated, more likely.
The story of 'first they came for others, but I didn't do anything because I was not one of them' is quite an old one. Eventually, we are all them. The story of 'I didn't do anything myself' is also an old one. Doing nothing in the face of evil isn't a case for absolution.
With the military fighting the people on multiple fronts, there is a real danger of Myanmar disintegrating into a war zone on our borders, with arms and drugs running wild. Beyond talking about looking east, India needs to see what is plainly evident.
Read 5 tweets
1 May
Yesterday the Supreme Court wanted to know why, when there are 10 PSUs that can license and manufacture vaccines, the government instead gave a grant of Rs.4500 crores to the private sector to do that. The answer that cannot be told - those PSUs couldn't save anyone.
We have various navaratnas and various kinds of other jewels in our PSU crown. But most of them are biding time, and are not really market-facing firms that know how to operate with the pressures of time and costs. Imagine giving the vaccine production job to them!
The large Indian population has given some of the PSUs a volume business, but usually at low levels of operating efficiency, and sometimes by transfering or not counting costs they should be including in their accounting. They are more like Plodding Sector Undertakings.
Read 4 tweets
1 May
More than four lakh new cases yesterday. A little more than a week ago, three lakhs was considered a big breach in the defenses. But it keeps growing. And these are only the recorded numbers. The real numbers are probably over a million a day.
The case count is beyond control. I don't think, given the kind of public administration we have, anything can be done about infections beyond the precautions we take individually. The virus is simply everywhere. The vaccine rollout is also slow. That leaves only one option.
We have to boost the capacity of hospitals and clinics to keep people alive. This means a massive supply of ventilators, oxygen, ICUs beds and drugs to as many facilities in the country as possible. And more new facilities, initially make-shift but intended to be permanent.
Read 4 tweets
30 Apr
Supreme Court asks whether provisions of patent law, which allow the government to set aside patents to enable a public good outcome, have been considered. And whether vaccine and drug production can be ramped up if this is invoked.
All of this reminded me of an old article by George Monbiot. The history of patent law, its use and abuse by countries, and the growth of large companies in countries without patent protection, is quite interesting.
The court is also asking the government about the price of vaccines (which seems much higher in India than abroad), and what is being done to keep prices affordable as per the Drug Prices Control Order. Also asks why Centre isn't buying all vaccines at its cost.
Read 4 tweets

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