When Europe and US were reeling under a second wave, Indian Government was busy planning election campaigns, Kumbh mela and other mass events without following COVID-19 protocols. The Modi led BJP Government was busy in vaccine maitri and sending other lifesaving drugs to other countries beyond its capacity, ignoring domestic requirement and lack of any international obligation resulting into unmitigated disaster. Now, the country on one hand is gasping for oxygen and on the other hand is jostling for the space to cremate and bury the dead.
The largest democracy of the world is today in the grip of a full-blown but undeclared health emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this powerful nation to its knees and has been reporting more than 300,000 new infections for the last 10 days now. The pandemic which hits the world last year like a Strom was a more of a natural disaster, but it seems the current Tsunami in India is a man-made disaster.
Today in India not just ordinary people, but even the reasonably well-networked and privileged class for whom things have been a few phone calls or messages away are suffering terribly. What to talk of hospital beds, the last few days have been filled with desperate appeals for help in finding an Oxygen cylinder or a COVID-19 related drug.
Delhi High Court in a scathing observation blamed the Central Government for the mismanagement and categorically said, “lives don’t matter for Government”. Furthermore, when the union health minister replied to the court that files have started moving, the court shot back saying, “What is the outcome? We aren’t bothered about these files; Industry will be ready to help”.
In another court observation, Madras high court during one of the COVID-19 related hearing hold the election commission of India and said the election officials must be booked for murder. Unfortunately, as the case with other constitutional bodies, election commission is in total grip of present regime.
During the high decibel state election campaign barbs flew thick and high against each other, and no recommended Covid protocol were implemented. Worse was when the PM was seen cheering the crowd for attending his rally in large numbers. Finally, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led with example and suspended his rallies in West Bengal over COVID-19 surge.
Congress, the main opposition party, who has far more experience in handling and successfully combating epidemic & pandemic, and has far superior ecosystem of sound policy advisors, experts from across the world provided many valuable suggestions but arrogance and naiveness came in play for the Modi Government and all those were ignored.
Only last month, when number of infected patients were down, the Union Health Minister was boasting that the country was “in the endgame” of COVID-19 and hailed PM Modi’s leadership on successfully combating the pandemic “. This irresponsible, arrogant and incognizant from the ground reality misguided people which also resulted into this catastrophe.
Under pressure from all quarters after this recent surge, PM Modi in his address to the nation on the night of 20 April committed nothing and delivered no more than a pep-talk. For a nation gasping for oxygen and action, Modi was quick to warn the state governments that the onus of any lockdown and subsequent losses would be entirely on them.
Currently, the national positivity rate stands around 20% with many districts in UP and West Bengal stands more than 40%.
The international press is holding the PM Modi missteps and complacency responsible for the devastating second wave of coronavirus in the country.
The worst part is that the government is not able to digest the criticism and is repeatedly pressurising the social media platforms like twitter to delete the tweets which are criticising the government.
Moreover, the Indian High commission in Australia has written a letter demanding corrigendum to the Australian newspaper for a news carried by it on Monday with the headline “Modi leads India out of Lockdown….And into a viral apocalypse”
Perhaps, India is the only country in the entire world where after the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister has not addressed a single press conference and the same is still continuing.
Today the whole world is extending their help to India to tackle this pandemic, but it is time for introspection for us as a society. India’s public health spending is among the lowest in the world in terms of percentage of GDP (less than 1.5%), even less than half of some of our neighbours.
But we are busy nurturing a political class that has been offering us our neighbour’s minority rights record as an election sop, rather than hospitals and education. The demand for better health facilities or more doctors has never mattered in an election in recent public memory.
That’s why we have an army of spin doctors now trying to tackle a health emergency on behalf of the Modi government. And that’s the last thing any democracy needs.