Not even the masquerade of religion and passage of time can guard Modi against history’s final verdict on him for failing terribly to save India from the second wave and equally for not taking accountability for the same.
All the doomsaying about the second wave has turned out to be worse than predicted for India. Declaring victory too early along with a promise to export vaccines abroad, based on the premature assessment, without having a solid plan for its own people shows little experience the Modi government has in handling a pandemic. In addition to being responsible for partly manufacturing the crisis and manipulating the resultant emotions of the Indian people, some of the prominent ministers in India also invoked myths about the disease. They ridiculed it as nothing more than just flu.
In the letdown and confusion that follows the corona carnage, India feels agonized by the silence of PM Modi on addressing serious questions regarding the shortage of vaccines and the helplessness people have to endure during these challenging circumstances. No amount of foreign aid can help when your own government fails not only to manage the pandemic but also the assistance that is coming from abroad.
We cannot dilute the importance of being vigilant as a nation with one of the highest populations in the world and the highest density of the same. As a nation without comprehensive health care, we were always more prone to a pandemic going haywire, if not correctly dealt with, than the others. Living in overcrowded conditions makes it difficult for people to follow stringent social distancing measures. The rest becomes impossible due to the unhygienic rural conditions, including scarcity of water and equal part unawareness about it. Inadequate understanding about the disease and hence the spread of misinformation can spoil things even further.
To top this all, India also has its set of preachy godmen/women who also happen to be running the country, like the CM of the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh — Yogi Adityanath. Such people are anti-science in their approach and stay in denial if things go wrong. Sadly, they are listened to by many in India. They are India’s traditional social influencers, and hence their inconsistency with modern medicine has always proved costly for the country.
Never mind the rustic theories of some of our chief ministers about the waters of the Ganges being too holy for corona to survive or how cow dung could fend off Corona. Away from the basic understanding that only sufficient vaccines, which the Modi government is unable to procure, could save India from the shambles it is in. India being one the largest producers of vaccines globally and having been able to vaccinate only 2.9% of its own people is a colossal defeat.
The pandemic has exemplified the significance of self-sufficiency of resources and tech to overcome a health crisis. Thereby, those who have successfully dealt with it and whose vaccination graph looks optimistic, as the USA’s, must now focus on helping other nations finish their battles with the virus.
It has also brought to the surface the necessity to increase health insurance enrollments. Strategies like reducing the expected costs, including premiums, subsidized insurance products to induce people to try them, easy enrollment and reimbursement processes, and increased expected health care benefits; can help boost health insurance universal take-ups.
The ordeal has not ended yet. It has been estimated that both the COVID cases and deaths are underestimated by 20 and 3–8 times, respectively. Each day still brings sad stories from all across India covering the tragedy. Stories from not having enough space to cremate the increasing pile of bodies or enough money to afford the cost of cremation to finding bodies floating in the Ganges. Furthermore, accounts of people banishing their own from entering the village or home to them dying without oxygen or required medical cure, these hard realities have broken many hearts and ruined many families. Social media is inundated with distress calls from people desperately looking for oxygen beds or medicines.
Unless the crisis is honestly acknowledged as a grave mistake on the part of the government, we would only flounder from one crisis to another. It would neither help the people nor the government. Waiting out a crisis thinking they are short-lived is an awful mistake. Not all crises and their memories are short-lived. Sufferings due to COVID and its misgovernance in India are changing people’s opinion about the Modi government. Unfortunately, Modi’s relentless focus on electoral politics and his overly centralized style of governance, even during the covid crisis, don’t suit the times India is currently undergoing. I hope to see Indian voters save their democracy from Modi in 2024, like how Americans have saved theirs from Trump.