A year after the proclamation of Coronavirus-induced lockdown, the phantom of the second wave has loomed. The ruinous second wave has sparked fury at the lack of preparation among officials who perceived that the worst times were over. The pandemic has now turned deadlier.
“IF the living in India did not speak, the dead will not remain silent.”
The unstoppable second wave of COVID-19 has turned into a nightmare in our country. After a decline in the number of daily cases and deaths in India from September 2020 to mid February 2021, there has been a reversal of this trend. Over 0.175 million people have died due to COVID-19 as of April 17, 2021. There has been nearly a sixty percent increase in new deaths in recent weeks. A closer look at the daily new deaths shows that over 2,000 people are dying on an average every day.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the country, and its healthcare system wobbles on the rim of collapse. The apocalyptic scenes of funeral pyres are grisly. The present condition of India’s hospitals is overwhelming. Devastating sights of people dying while waiting for hospital beds, the beds are filled with patients in critical respiratory distress, the hospital’s oxygen supplies are running perilously low. Fatal shortages have fuelled allegations that Narendra Modi’s government failed to prepare the country for a second wave after seeing off the first last year. India’s truck fleet has been unable to cope, prompting a frantic rush by officials, hospitals and families for oxygen supplies. The Modi government has also been accused of being impuissant in strengthening India’s medical oxygen infrastructure. Last year It announced plans to build more than 150 “pressure swing adsorption” generators at hospitals. These are small production units that are relatively quick to install. But the health ministry revealed that only 33 had been completed, with a total of 80 due to be finished by the end of May.
Here’s how the world is reacting towards India’s overwhelming situation: “The situation in India is beyond heartbreaking”, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO. He further enunciated that “WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies.” Headlines such as “Modi flounders in India’s gigantic second wave”, in The Times, London, have been typical of the coverage that the Prime Minister has been receiving as the daily count of new COVID cases has barrelled past 300,000. The Times has confounded the government’s rejoinder to the latest coronavirus wave, saying it has “underscored the air of complacency and denial that have dogged his government’s response to the crisis.” An equally ferocious headline in The Guardian said “The system has collapsed: India’s descent into Covid hell.” The Washington Post divided the onus between, “more contagious variants of the virus, as well as an early relaxation of restrictions and a slow-moving vaccination campaign.” In another article, it also described baleful vaccine paucity in various states.
COVID-19 related deaths would be difficult to estimate in India, owing to the problems of reporting, trailing and detecting, and comorbidities. But the counts of infection and deaths both seemed tremendously low. By any measure the real figures are probably far higher. Instead of exploring this, the media seemed to celebrate the somewhat pointless metric of the “recovery rate”, which, in any event, would be asymmetrical for all the reasons just mentioned.
But information about a deadly virus and its impact is hard to contain within a political narrative. COVID-19 cannot be shouted down by pro-Modi trolls, nor can the coverage of the very real tragedy unfolding in India – of deaths ascending, overrun hospitals, and crematoria literally melting from running nonstop for days – could be framed as an anti-India international press.
However, the question here is “Does this government really have the account of the dead bodies or can it feel the immense pain of its own people?” The mask-less election rallies which took place a few days back in West Bengal, attended by thousands of voters itself elucidate government’s concern for its citizens.
Mudabbira Rehman is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Samra Ejaz
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.