One cannot help but feel sorry for the helplessness of Indians during the prevailing deadly COVID-19 wave. The third wave of novel coronavirus has emerged as the deadliest one so far raising eyebrows across the globe. The number of COVID-19 patients in various parts of India has witnessed an exponential increase on a daily basis instead of going down making India the global epicenter of coronavirus.
As per the government statistics, India reported 300,835 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, April 22nd, the figure being the highest daily toll across the world. These are the official figures, whereas the real number of COVID-19 patients and casualties is suspected to be much higher as the testing infrastructure and capacity is insufficient with many possible COVID-19 patients breathing their last homes.
The situation is exacerbated by two facts, the first being an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases and the second one being the lack of sufficient healthcare resources which is a tough ‘reality-check for the ‘shining India’ the country’s claims of economic development and growth. Hospitals are facing an acute shortage of oxygen supply which led to a petition filed in Delhi High Court. The petition was filed by a hospital’s administration which highlighted that hundreds of patients are in dire need of oxygen whose stock is on the verge of running out. Hospital administration had already warned about the circumstances two days ago and only reached out to court after its warning had gone unaddressed. During the hearing, the court reprimanded the Modi government and expressed its astonishment at the government’s negligence; how can government be so careless regarding people’s lives? said the court.
‘Why the government is so unaware of ground realities? You cannot leave the people to die due to a shortage of oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, arrange the required oxygen however possible. It’s your responsibility,’ said the Delhi High Court.
This shows the adverse circumstances faced by COVID-19 patients in India. The number of infected people is increasing on a daily basis resulting in the country’s hospitals being overburdened with rapidly depleting oxygen stock. Although PM Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation, had reassured that the government is collaborating with state governments and private companies to address the oxygen shortage. However, this claim has not been fulfilled yet. Heart-wrenching pictures, videos regarding COVID-19 patients from India are widely being circulated in international media. These media reports also reveal that cremation centers have also been overwhelmed due to an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 deaths. Dozens of cremations are being carried out at once whilst surrounded by remnants of hundreds of cremations done before.
Though the shortage of oxygen is a major contributor to unprecedented COVID-19 deaths; however, the situation is also exacerbated by extensive flaws of India’s healthcare system. For instance, 24 COVID-19 patients died after a fire broke out due to a leakage in an oxygen cylinder in Maharashtra’s Nashik city last week.
On one hand, India is observing its third coronavirus wave which has proven to be the deadliest so far, whereas on the other hand Kumbh Mela – a major pilgrimage and festival in Hinduism, was held as per the schedule and was attended by hundreds of thousands of devotees from all over India.
A large number of people who attended the Kumbh Mela later tested positive for COVID-19. This was evidently a religious issue and the Modi government just wasn’t going to interfere in it to protect its vote bank. This is just the religious aspect, as politics also contributed to the worsening COVID-19 wave. During this time, the sixth round of elections was held in West Bengal which saw politicians running full fledge election campaigns with huge rallies and other public gatherings which were attended by hundreds of thousands of people without face masks along with an absence of social distancing measures and other SOPs. Among the politicians who led such rallies was India’s Minister of Home Affairs – Amit Shah, a fact which essentially proves that the Indian government prioritizes its political interests over peoples’ lives.
Extensive shortage of oxygen and resulting deaths are a major cause of concern for the Indian government. Indians would not be dying in such large numbers only if India had focused on its healthcare system rather than becoming a global superpower and had hoarding weapons and military equipment to be used against Pakistan and China. However, nothing much can be done regarding Delhi’s ‘arms race’ and struggle for military supremacy. Indian rulers, politicians and generals, and media have always resorted to war rhetoric and propaganda in the past as well, whose price is being paid by the Indian public who is now struggling to breathe and gasping for air. Nature, through the COVID-19 pandemic, has made it clear to India along with the world healthcare system, education and poverty alleviation should be prioritized and focused on rather than spending on weapons and military resources, for this is the only way to prevent a global catastrophe.