Modi plays politics as Covid sweeps India
INDIA is under heavy attack from Covid-19. The world’s second-most populous nation is reeling as the coronavirus squeezes the life out of its people and the economy. With over 20 million infections, it ranks only second to the US. Hospitals are overwhelmed and either turn away patients or leave them gasping for breath as there are not enough beds, equipment and oxygen.
The figures are frightening. On Saturday alone there were a record 350 000 cases and in the past three days over a million. The daily death rate has breached the 3 500 mark and keeps climbing as a second wave wreaks havoc on the nation of 2.4 billion people. The Covid surge is so bad that the state of Karnataka has given permission to families to bury their loved ones in their backyards. Makeshift crematoriums have sprung up all over the country as the established ones cannot cope with the high number of deaths.
The country is desperate and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for help from the international community for oxygen and equipment. The US, France, Germany and Britain have responded with supplies of vaccine raw material, oxygen and equipment.
The army has been called in and trainee doctors and nurses sitting for their examinations have been sent to medical centres to help the exhausted medical staff.
Modi has come under criticism for his government’s handling of the pandemic. India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker and instead of seeing to its own needs first, it has been exporting the vaccine. The vaccine roll-out has been chaotic. Only a negligible percentage of the population has been vaccinated.
Last month, people threw caution to the wind as they gathered in their thousands to celebrate Holi. They took part in the Kumbh Mela festival as they ignored Covid safety precautions and gathered in their millions on the banks of the Ganges.
Modi himself put his own political interests before the lives of his people. While the pandemic was sweeping the country, he was busy playing politics on an election campaign in West Bengal. He said he had never seen such large crowds before. How many more must have got infected in these super-spreader events?
Indian authorities are also not taking sufficient precautions to stop the virus from spreading to other parts of the world. Fourteen crew members on an Indian ship docked in Durban have tested positive and one succumbed to the virus. The ship is under strict quarantine in the harbour. Can you imagine how lax the Covid rules must have been on board the ship?
There is something wrong with this nation which has aspirations of becoming a global power. It is aiming for the stars when so much needs to be done to uplift the poor.
Millions are being spent on its ambitious space programme. It has already sent a space mission to Mars, becoming the first country in the world to succeed on its maiden flight. After its failed missions to the moon it is preparing a third attempt.
India has got its priorities wrong. This is a poor nation with huge disparities between the rich and the poor. The people – eradication of poverty, fighting the virus and saving lives – should come first, not prestige and glory. But if you ask any Indian, they are proud of India’s space achievements.