COVID-19 Maharashtra: A day in the life of Health Minister Rajesh Tope

ST Correspondent
Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Beginning his day at 6 am, here is how the Health Minister dedicates his entire day to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Health Minister Rajesh Tope has coined a catchline 'Mich Majha Rakshak' which translates to 'I am my own saviour'. He has made it popular by reciting it every time he has interacted with citizens. Its hashtag was also generated and was popular on social media. Tope says, "My only expectation is that this message should percolate through the community."

Location: Jetavan. Residence of the Health Minister Rajesh Tope in the Malabar Hill area.

Time

6 am: Health Minister Tope's day has begun. Just after waking up, Tope goes for a walk. This is the only exercise he gets to do in 24 hours.

9 am: Tope moves to his office inside his bungalow. Normally, supporters and other visitors used to line up from morning for visiting Tope but now due to coronavirus scare, there were no visitors. Tope could straightaway start his work. His private secretary puts a diary in front of him. It has notes about meetings scheduled in the day, press conferences, video conferences, messages received and other important information. Meanwhile, the phone keeps ringing continuously. Some MLA demands more medicines in his constituency, some supporters request medical equipment in their areas. Tope attends each call personally. 

Aside from requesting all leaders and the public to not panic, Tope has a look of worry on his face. Several editors, social activists have discussions with Tope, but he tells all of them that prevention and precaution is the only way forward at present, as there is no medicine or vaccine available. The Central Health Minister meanwhile calls him up, and Tope is occupied for another half an hour over the phone. The Central Minister instructs him to reduce the mortality rate and increase testing. Next, Tope receives a call from the office of the Chief Ministers, regarding a video conference. A delegation of manufacturers of masks, sanitisers and ventilators meanwhile await to meet Tope.

1.30 pm: It is lunchtime, but a television channel wants a live interview. Tope does not have lunch and heads straight to the channel office. Tope accepts the request to go on air for one simple reason: factually correct information should reach people. Tope takes notes studiously whenever he's with the Prime Minister, Chief Minister during a meeting. His insistence on giving factual information has prevented countless instances of rumours and citizens were reassured.

4 pm: Tope returns from the channel office. His PA reminds him of the video conference at Chief Minister's residence. At the same time, he gets a message that food is being served. Tope has only a few bites and immediately leaves for the video conference. Tope's ailing mother is admitted in a hospital for the past two months, but he hasn't been able to take out the time to visit her. He has not even met his family in Jalna for more than a month.

8 pm: Tope returns from the Cheif Minister's bungalow and resumes his office work. He reviews all the messages, phone calls and COVID-19 numbers of the day. Based on this information, he instructs directors and secretaries of various departments. This process goes on for more than an hour. After that, his routine work begins which doesn't stop until it is past 1.30 am.

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