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Politics of Pandemic in India

Politics of Pandemic in India
May 10
11:17 2021

Prakash Waghmare

(Prolific Writer, Social-Activist, Political Commentator)

Current Covid-19 (Corona) situation in India is quite grave. There is no denying that the mistakes were made on multiple fronts that resulted into Corona taking awful toll across the country. The central government’s errors were compounded by the State government (govt).

During the first corona-wave when the central-govt took over all the precautionary elements into its own hand, the State-govts cried out loud labeling it as ‘authoritarian’ or ‘dictatorial’. The central-govt ultimately gave in to their demands in the last quarter of 2020 and provided them, instead enough funds to fight this beastly virus.

The money was supposed to be used for PPE kits, essential medicines, setting up bed facilities and to procure Oxygen-equipment but nothing of that sort happened. The States showed complete laxity to take any proactive steps, the moment they felt that Corona was receding.

No one knows how the States spent their money. Maharashtra Govt in particular, which had 1/3 of cases and 1/4 of deaths started shutting down the bed facilities.

When India was basking in the praise by the western world as the role model for the containment of Corona, the Central and the State govts should have collectively started preparations for the impending second wave of the pandemic. This did not happen.

Although in democracy, the elections are inevitable come what may, there should have been complete clamp down on rallies, however unrealistic it may sound. The central-govt shouldn’t have permitted any religious gatherings (including ‘Kumbh-Mela’), processions to take place.

These lapses sent a wrong signal to the public. Nevertheless, the fatal expansion of Corona squarely lies with ‘the public at large’. People not only disregarded the severity of Covid’s danger by not following mandated safety precautions, but also, started all their routine activities and celebrations, as if it did not exist. This had deadly consequences.

Covid-19 is a global phenomenon but also in India itis being tossed around like a political football whose ultimate goal is, not only to project how the country is on the brink of ‘Armageddon’, but also, to emphasize how inept and insensitive the current administration is. The major players in this game are the opposition political parties and their surrogates.

Whenever the nation has faced an existential crisis, they have routinely tried to score points every which they can, instead of supporting the government in the interest of the nation and the citizens. In this game -make no mistake – some national and international Media are also involved.

Instead of reporting positive, inspiring stories they have mass-marketed unflattering, exaggerated or sometimes even fake stories. The international Media has converged on India’s plight as if it is the biggest calamity the world has ever witnessed.

Towards this end, to justify their narrative they have sometimes filed misleading reports with ‘doctored’ pictures & video clips. China, which is the birthplace of Covid-19 by all accounts, is also the global capital of misinformation. It has successfully used its Indian henchmen, who are not limited to just Communists, Naxalites, but also, willing politicians, celebrities and the media to destabilize India. As we all know, a leading New York tabloid recently used an outdated picture related to a gas leakage from somewhere, to show, ‘how the people in India are dying on the street’.

This is not an isolated incidence. Scandal-sniffing notorious British press isn’t less offensive either. As per WHO, 87% of vaccines have been cornered by high-income countries and only 0.2% of vaccines have gone to poor countries.

The international media-cartel is not publicizing this complicity of their own govts in the current crisis. Fortunately, the Indian ‘netizens’ who also now include numerous private channels, have proved themselves equal to so-called ‘yellow journalism’ by exposing all the falsification with rock-solid proofs.

When, opposition parties are harping on the sorry conditions in the country, it is worth noting that none of their cadre or party-workers are nowhere to be seen helping out the masses. In their stark absence, the people have taken things into their own hands.

At this moment, lot of caretaking is being done by numerous social or religious local organizations. All these organizations are collectively providing hundreds of thousands of meals to the needy people; setting up thousands of beds and acquiring necessary equipment & medications, wherever possible. Spearheading these efforts, nationwide, are RSS, VHP volunteers.

It is true that the healthcare system in India is simply overwhelmed at this moment by Corona cases. At the same time, it is essential to analyze whether the current tragic phase is as ‘cataclysmic’ as the Media, think-tanks, and the govt-bashing pseudo-secular activists have made it out to be.

Every human life is precious but the reality of Indian pandemic is that it’s a far cry from what the western countries have earlier gone through and are still facing. Let’s take a break and have comparative study with hard numbers.

As of now, populations of India, USA, U.K. and ‘European Union (EU)’ are respectively 1,391 Million, 332.60 Million,68.18 Million and 447 Million. As of May 1,2021, the Corona cases they have are19.60 Million, 32.80 Million, 4.4 Million and 30.29 Million.

The death tolls are respectively216,000, 576,700, 151,200 and 679,000. In short, statistically, although U.S. population is less than1/4 of India, it had 11 TIMES more deaths and 7 TIMES more corona cases.

In U.K., although the population is measly 4.77% of India, it had 14.32 TIMES more deaths and 4.54 TIMES more Corona cases and though ‘EU’ population is less than 1/3 of India, it has 9.68 TIMES more deaths and 4.77 TIMES more Corona cases.

When we say ‘TIMES’, let it resonate as ‘so many hundred-percent’.Although the pandemic numbers of the highly developed countries look shocking in comparison to India, they are in no way comforting to what is unfolding in India, now.

The whole objective of numerical exercise is only to put Indian pandemic in global perspective. It’s not just India, even developed nations like Canada, England and so many European countries are currently struggling with the acute shortage of vaccines and medical facilities. (My nephew is ER-Chief in a Toronto Hospital and one of my closest friends is overseeing a Hospital in London).

Needless to say, the question that pops up in one’s mind is – ‘why then, the western world is finding Indian pandemics so monstrous when they themselves have fared so badly’ in reality? The reason – it is India’s formidable stature as a rising world power under the leadership of PM N.Modi’.This is their way of pointing out India’s vulnerability.

Dr. Gautam Sen of London ‘School of Economics’ says, as per the report that is available,” a professional international campaign has been launched in the context of Covid crisis in India in the hope of delegitimizing the Modi Govt and weaken it fatally … the goal is to instigate rejection of BJP in the forthcoming elections.”

India produces 70% of the world’s vaccine and a major chunk of generic drugs that U.S. needs. 

During the Trump administration, as United States (U.S.) relations with China deteriorated, the American consumer-giants had started eyeing India as the alternative manufacturing hub for their goods.

By this time India had established itself as one of the biggest consumer markets. When the new U.S. President Joe Biden bought 600 million dosages to play vaccine-diplomacy, his administration wasn’t fully aware of how much U.S. depended on India.

During Trump administration, when U.S. badly needed millions of ‘Hydroxychloroquine’ dosages, it was India who had come to U.S. rescue. 

When President Biden prematurely arrested raw material supply for Vaccine production in India, it took his administration some time to realize what a blunder he had made.

As numerous countries started coming to India’s aid, it not only reflected badly on U.S. as a selfish, isolationist country, but also, presented a Public-Relation nightmare for the U.S. giants doing business with India.

There is no doubt that PM Modi and his team charmed the new President and smoothen out diplomatic wrinkles but that wasn’t the only reason why Biden administration reversed its earlier decision.

The tripping point that delivered goods in India’s favor came during an emergency meeting, which was convened by U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken with 135 CEOs of major U.S. conglomerates, in the third week of April.

The CEOs reportedly convinced the new Administration that if U.S. didn’t reciprocate India’s earlier goodwill gesture, it would have disastrous repercussions, especially-when nationalistic fervor running so high in India.

Moreover, lately PM Modi’s new motto of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant, self-sufficient, with self-esteem – India) had become worrisome to them. Nevertheless, the pandemic situation in India is definitely a matter of great concern that needs global efforts as one-fifth of humanity and the world’s largest consumer clientele is at stake …

In U.S., Indian diaspora is raising lot of funds through various organizations to fight Corona in India. Organizations, like ‘Sewa International’, ‘VHP of America’, ‘BAPS’, ‘Ekal V. Foundation’, ‘Share & Care’, ‘AAPI’ have collectively raised millions of dollars.

Various American groups and organizations are also busy raising quite bit of money for India. It is very comforting to know that the people around the world are motivated to help India. One World! One Humanity! One Objective!

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