Trust deficit between government and citizens

Instead of building surveillance and authoritarian regime, it is not too late to rebuild people’s trust in science, public authorities and media.

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of this generation. Governments are taking strict measures to prevent further spreading of the deadly virus. Economies are sinking. Inflation is burgeoning. Unemployment is increasing. Poverty is spreading Food scarcity is hovering. Weak medical sectors of countries are crumbling. Lockdowns have become a daily norm. Governments are now taking decisions in hours that in normal times could take years of deliberations, that is the nature of emergencies. Countries which have very good health care system, are also very helpless. Coronavirus is spreading like wildfire. The death toll is sky-rocketing. Panic and hysteria are augmenting. In such circumstances, when no one has the remedy to cure this disease, some guideline will be very fruitful in mitigating the effects of this epidemic.

Entire population need to comply with certain guidelines of the World Health Organization and their respective governments. Avoiding congregations and physical distancing is the need of hour. Although, it will affect the economies and lives of people, yet it will save their precious lives. Governments are advising people to stay at their home but the majority of them are not complying the instructions of their governments.

A well-informed and self-motivated citizen is usually very effective and powerful than a policed and ignorant citizen.

There are two main ways of achieving this. One method for the government is to monitor their citizens and punish those who break the instructions. The other is to lessen the trust gap. The major hurdle in the former method is harsh punishments and centralized monitoring, which aren’t the only way to make people comply with beneficial guidelines. When people have some trust in public authorities and the scientific facts which are told to them, citizens can do the right thing even without the fear of Big Brother watching at them. A well-informed and self-motivated citizen is usually very effective and powerful than a policed and ignorant citizen.

Nevertheless, to achieve such a level of compliance you need trust and co-operation. People need to trust science, public authorities, and media. Over the past few years, some irresponsible (mis)leaders and politicians have deliberately undermined the trust of people in science, public authorities and media. Now ordinary people are bearing the brunt of their irresponsibility. These same irresponsible politicians will now argue to take the high road to authoritarianism, by giving the rationale that the public cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

Some irresponsible (mis)leaders and politicians have deliberately undermined the trust of people in science, public authorities and media.

Normally, a trust which has been abraded for years cannot be restored overnight but these are not normal circumstances. In a moment like these, minds too can change quickly. With your siblings, you can have some bitter arguments for years, but when some crisis occurs, you abruptly discover a hidden reservoir of amity and trust, and you rush to one another help. Instead of building surveillance and authoritarian regime, it is not too late to rebuild people’s trust in science, public authorities and media.

This current epidemic is a major test of citizenship. In the coming days, each one of us should have to choose and trust science and experts over baseless conspiracy theories and self-serving benighted politicians. If we fail to choose the right choice, we may find ourselves sailing away from our most precious freedom of thinking and safeguarding our health.

Currently, the majority of the population resists official guidance and information. They think that it is partial and biased, and suspect government for carrying out some hidden agendas or interests or some sort of conspiracy. There is a huge void of mistrust. Governments have to break the shackles of this distrust. In this regard, coordination can play a very vital role. Co-ordination between ordinary people, religious leaders, scientist, experts and authorities is need of the hour. It will prove very fruitful. Moreover, responsible politicians and leaders can play a very effective role in curbing such crisis. By trust and coordination, we can defeat this epidemic otherwise, it will defeat the whole of humanity.

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