Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In total control

Some statements on the H1N1 situation, pulled out from assorted news items.
  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday asked Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to step up the preparedness and ensure closer coordination between the Health Ministry and the State governments to check the spread of the highly contagious disease.
  • Dr. Singh, who called up the Minister to take stock of the situation, also stressed the need for creating more awareness and checking spread of misinformation on the disease, and asking State governments to create more isolation wards in hospitals and train more doctors and paramedical staff to deal with any eventuality.
  • Azad spoke to 22 CMs on Tuesday and asked them to take swift decision in controlling the virus’s spread.
  • Chief Minister M Karunanidhi directed officials to ensure that proper tests are being carried out on those exhibiting flu symptoms like cold, cough, body ache and diarrhoea. The officials were also asked to ensure immediate medical attention and treatment to those who tested positive.
  • Mr. Karunanidhi also advised medical officials to continuously monitor schools and instruct principals and headmasters to pay immediate attention to any student with swine flu symptoms.

These news stories are what Hitchcock would have referred to as McGuffins. The PM, Health Minister and CM all appear to be completely in charge of the situation, responding to the crisis with a burst of energy, analysing, troubleshooting, taking remedial actions on the spot at an awesome speed and displaying administrative skills of a high order. In reality, what they are doing is sitting down in one place and mumbling something to a subordinate that he should do whatever is required to be done at the appropriate time.

Everybody knows that no ideas or strategy would flow out of such meetings. What is important is to go ahead with the ritual of the meeting and make some noise. The media will then ‘animate’ it suitably and convey the impression of action.

1 comment:

Mambalam Mani said...

Exactly. All noise and no action.