A Superman Among Us

Wednesday, 05 August 2020

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A Superman Among Us

Swapnil Bharali | April 01, 2020 20:31 hrs


On a cold, wintry night of January 2019, I was granted an interview by Himanta Biswa Sarma (HBS) at his Zoo Road residence. I basically wanted to ask a few questions related to the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill that was set to be passed in the Lok Sabha. In the days leading up to the interview, I noticed a distinct slide in his popularity on mainstream as well as social media to the point where he was the target of massive public anger besides being branded as a “traitor” who allegedly selfishly sought only his personal political gain. He was considered a man who had sold his soul at the altar of Assamese identity.


A year later today, Assam is faced with a situation where our existence - and not just our identity - is at stake due to an alien virus emanating from a country notorious for its iron curtain policies and for no fault of ours. As a newsman at the helm of affairs at G Plus and responsible for quick and prompt news dissemination through our digital channels, work over the last week – ever since the Janta Curfew of March 22 – has been brutal to say the least. From early in the morning till late in the night, with minimal breaks in between, what has gone from us is the news of the moment. From the PM’s 8 pm addresses to the nation, FM’s press briefings and her economic packages, HBS’s press briefings onto our Chief Secretary and DGP spelling out food distribution and security plans, we ensured that we covered everything so that our readers could keep themselves informed. We wrote stories, news items, scripts and then made videos and in the process built up enough fatigue each day and yet went through sleepless nights wondering what was in store the next morning. Essentially, we thought we were doing great and hard work. We still do.


And yet on this same soil and breathing the same air is one man who is leading the combat against Covid-19 without any trace of fatigue. Everyday has been a story of HBS’s imagination, competence and commitment to ensure that Assam does not enter even Stage 1 of the Coronavirus pandemic. It has been a story of his ability to be prepared and demonstrate the same without fear. At this point, his leadership leads us to believe that Assam has reached a point where it is quite prepared to put up a solid fight. I am privy to information that each probable positive case is being tracked to the hilt, and concerned people are being quarantined such that Assam is yet to have its first positive case. HBS’s communications over media have been articulate, precise and to the point and he has been eloquent enough to make whoever has listened to him understand the gravity of the situation. On top of that is his ever fresh appearance, whether he is at Dibrugarh in the morning, Nagaon in the afternoon or Guwahati at night, addressing the media or taking stock of situations in the field. HBS has displayed remarkable energy levels and uncannily remains the only face of the Sarbananda Sonowal government in this fight against the deadly threat. Of course, being the health minister, it is his job. But not all ministers show this kind of character when faced with a challenge of this magnitude. Nor imagination. He has brought private hospitals into the ambit, is planning to immediately train up final year MBBS students and nurses and press them into service, is converting stadiums into makeshift hospitals, is seeking to add 4,000 more dedicated beds all across the state and got the same government employees who were protesting against the CAA to donate a month’s salary such that these temporary hospitals could see fruition from this fund itself. 


Today, with no knowledge of what the future holds for us but for his efforts at ensuring it remains good, what I feel is that this “traitor” of the last year is the veritable Superman among us and the best we can do for ourselves is follow his biding until we see this crisis through.

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