History India South Asia · History of Medicine · Politics · Public health

Black Money and the Black Death: What The Indian Govt Can Learn from the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897

This was published on Nov 24, in theWire.in. Here is the link.

Below is an extract:

[Just like the demonetisation policy] It was a hastily drafted Bill, barely a page long, but ‘extending to the whole of British India’ and coming into force immediately. It was referred to a Select Committee (of four British and two Indian members) and was brought up for discussion in the next session on February 4. Surprisingly, it was passed as an Act the very same day. And though the Indian members of the council noted that it was loaded with vague terminology and potential for abuse of power, the council passed it almost unaltered.

Woodburn made an effort to subject his Bill to debate simply because procedure mandated it; he perhaps actually had no intentions of altering it. With respect to demonetisation, a similar attitude was shown by the central government on November 8 when, to quote an unnamed senior bureaucrat from a Business Standard report, “the plan was already in place; we were called [simply] to be apprised about it.” The opinions of skeptical bureaucrats, like of the Indian members of the 1897 Legislative Council, were brushed aside. To quote the article again: “Some bureaucrats had raised concerns about the multiple cascading effects of the move. ‘But the support from most other senior bureaucrats, as well as among the ministers, drowned these voices,’ a source said.”

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