COVID-19 wave hits Ministry of Defence institute after in-person seminar held with positive cases


Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Disregard for COVID-19 protocols seems to have resulted in the infection spreading inside the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (MP-IDSA), the premier defence think tank under the Ministry of Defence.

A seminar being conducted in-person by the institute on April 9, despite two positive cases, and the insistence on keeping the institute fully functional led to the virus spreading among its staff.

On May 5, S Kalyanraman, a Research Fellow who presented the paper in the seminar, succumbed to the infection. The institute has till now reported 32 positive cases. The list includes the Assistant Director and his family members. Some of them have finished the quarantine period.

As many as 10 scholars who attended the seminar – Grp Capt Ajey Lele, Col DPK Pillay, Samuel Rajiv, Rajiv Nayan, Gulbin Sultana, Sumit, Prashant Singh, Prashant Pradhan, Jagannath Panda and Titli Basu – were found positive.

It is alleged that the DG was insistent on keeping the Institute functional with 100 per cent staff strength from mid-April 2020 when the government opened essential services.

This newspaper is in possession of a letter written by Deputy Director General of MP-IDSA, Maj Gen Bipin Bakshi, to the Cantonment Board Hospital, which confirms that the Institute was fully functional from April 2020.

Sources said the DG went ahead despite the Centre making it clear that government departments and organisations should function with only 33 per cent staff strength. A staff member said that instead of following guidelines, the MP-IDSA management issued strict work hour circulars in October and penalised some who didn’t follow cut-off timings.

COVID cases in the campus, they claimed, increased soon after. Director General MP-IDSA, Sujan R Chinoy said, “We have been following all guidelines and we have also given the staff the option of working from home.”

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