As the more virulent second wave of Chinese Wuhan Coronavirus hit Bharat very hard from early April 2021, the nation has seen unprecedented and out-of-control human tragedies. From a situation of near-success against the first version of the pandemic, the affected numbers have multiplied many-fold breaching the existing infrastructure and other capacities. Be it, hospital beds, medical staff, medicines, oxygen, ambulances or other equipments needed to face such a massive upswing in numbers, no country could have been prepared. While the Government of India had given advisories to many states about the impending second wave, it is a fact that neither the Central government nor the State governments did anything substantive to augment their capacities and capabilities to face the second wave.
In early March 2021, the active cases across the country stood at about 1,50,000, but in less than 3 weeks, the daily infections shot beyond 3,50,000. The staggering number itself shows the virulent nature of the second attack. While scientists are still researching the characteristics of the new mutations, it is very apparent that the ferocity of transmission in the second wave is rapid and aggressive.
Instead of taking responsibility in tackling the pandemic, the State government indulged in petty politics of blaming the Central government for its own failures.
When the hospitals and medical facilities were overwhelmed with numbers far beyond their servicing capacities, tragedies were inevitable. Several hundred died due to a shortage of oxygen cylinders, several more died for lack of hospital beds, and many more died for the shortage of critical life-saving medicines. To the families that lost their dear ones, even a single death is one too many. Their pain would naturally drive them to seek answers for the failure of the system. Compounding this tragedy, the strain of disposing of their dear ones due to lack of crematorium facilities or sufficient burial grounds, rubbed salt into their wounds.
During every human tragedy, there will be vultures of prey who feast on the tragedies and vulnerabilities of the victims. From black-marketing the medicines, hospital beds, oxygen supplies, other needed equipment and materials, these vultures of prey exploited even the dead by extracting exorbitant amounts for transportation, cremation or burial of the dead.
While there will be birds of prey feasting on every tragedy, this second wave of the pandemic has seen much worse scavengers of the carrion.
Health is a state subject as per the Indian Constitution. During the first phase of the pandemic, the Central government had taken charge of tackling the pandemic at the national level, whether pertaining to the decisions on lockdown or economic support to the vulnerable. The political opponents had then cried foul that the Central government was infringing on the rights of the State governments and thus going against the federal structure. As the nation opened up its economy and managed to handle the pandemic in an effective manner, matched only by a handful of countries across the globe, the Central government passed on the decision-making choices to the states. When the UK and Brazil mutations happened, WHO (World Health Organization) warned of a potential deadly second wave, the Central government passed on the advisories to the vulnerable state governments. Yet when the second wave actually hit the nation, none of the states was geared up to face it. The time available to them between the unlock down – and the start of phase II was not utilized enough to ramp up their capacities. No State government added additional hospitals, beds, medical and health workers, nor focused on augmenting their material and equipment supply lines. Instead of coordinating and cooperating with other State governments and Central government, many State governments ruled by opposition parties chose to politicize the tragedy and shift blame to the Modi government instead. Maharashtra being a super-spreader in the second wave, the State government was too busy with hafta-vasooli/ extortions, rather than preparing for the pandemic. Had it shown even a fraction of urgency and seriousness it showed in demolishing Kangana Ranaut’s property or arresting Arnab Goswami by reopening an old closed case, in augmenting its resources, the state would not have seen such innumerable tragedies. Instead of taking responsibility in tackling the pandemic, the State government indulged in petty politics of blaming the Central government for its own failures.
The Delhi government headed by Arvind Kejriwal was busy supplying biryani and broadband to the middlemen who had blocked roads outside Delhi protesting against the farm laws. He was busy promoting himself on all media platforms. In the last 6 years of his rule, the Aam Aadmi Party government didn’t construct a single new hospital, the mohalla clinics that he touted were nowhere to be seen in dealing with the second wave. His own MLA from the minority community was seen hoarding more than 600 oxygen cylinders which could have saved many lives. Apparently, these were exclusively reserved for use by the minority community vote-bank of AAP. Influential people close to the ruling party in Delhi were seen as black-marketing medicines and oxygen concentrators. To gain political mileage from this tragedy, the Delhi CM broadcasted live a crucial meeting that the PM had called with the CMs to discuss the pandemic. He played to the galleries and was seen pleading with the Prime Minister for additional oxygen supplies as he preyed on the vulnerabilities of the people who were dying for the lack of oxygen, the idea was to show that PM was heartless. A similar panic was created in the courts when the Delhi government painted a grim picture on oxygen supplies, forcing the lordships to threaten the Central government of contempt of court. However, when the Central government asked for conducting an audit of the oxygen supplies, the Delhi government refused and ran away from that. It was very apparent that Kejriwal tried to cover up the Delhi government’s mismanagement by shifting the blame to the Central government. He even tried to buy off the loyalty of the press and the judiciary to stave off any blame coming his way. He spent more than Rs.150 crores on advertisements to silence the media and offered to convert a 5-star hotel into an exclusive Corona facility for the HC judges and staff, thus trying to gain their support. Mr Hemant Soren, CM of Jharkhand, tried to take political mileage by tweeting against the PM after a call between them to review the pandemic. Heading one of the worst-hit states, he tried to shift the blame to PM to avoid public scrutiny of his failures.
A pandemic of this magnitude is bound to leave many tragic stories behind. It sees no caste, race, gender, religion, status, region or age. It has consumed youngsters and senior citizens, celebrities and commoners, men women and children alike and spared no one. However, the media scavengers picked stories to create specific narratives which are detrimental to the nation. The thin line between constructive opposition of the government’s failures versus narratives against the nation or its culture got erased by these media persons. The photographs and videos of mass cremations were nothing short of cannibalistic voyeurism. The homegrown media sold these images to the western media online at exorbitant prices. The basic dignity and privacy were deprived to departed fellow humans and huge money was made. A senior journalist was spinning her vicious narrative sitting among burning pyres of a crematorium. Instead of expressing basic human courtesy of condolences, these media scavengers laughed and abused the death of a young news anchor Rohit Sardana, the reason was that he opposed their ideologies. This cabal of media scavengers hunts in packs posting the same messages from all their handles. These media scavengers started blaming Modi and conveniently ignored or covered up the failures of the State governments. They even went to the extent of praising the administrations of Uddhav Thackeray and Arvind Kejriwal advising Modi to learn from them. Maharashtra saw accidents and fires in seven hospitals resulting in the death of several Coronavirus patients, none of these media scavengers spoke a word against State governments’ accountability for these tragedies. Media hypocrisy was again exposed when it accused the Modi government of failure on the vaccination front, while it was the same cabal that had opposed vaccinations, especially Covaxin of Bharat Biotech before the second wave of pandemic hit. While cases of lakhs of infections are reported, lakhs of people getting discharged from hospitals daily is not reported. In the process of opposing Modi and his government, these media scavengers have committed the crime of shielding the real culprits and portraying Bharat in poor light before the rest of the world.
While the governments and the political parties slug it out to tackle this crisis, it is important for every patriotic Bharatiya to strengthen the national fight against this pandemic, and not get carried away by the toxic anti-Bharat narratives spun by these carrion scavengers.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.