The Covid second wave: A government-sponsored human tragedy

That there would be a second Covid wave was scientifically known, yet the government chose to ignore all warnings, mocked citizens who spoke about this, and turned a blind eye to nations that were hit by the second wave, writes Tehseen Poonawalla.

In my short life so far, I have seen India completely transform. As a child when people would often comment that India was a third world country, to the period in my teens when we knew we were on the cusp of progressing and where citizens would debate on the best way forward, to the period between 2004 to 2014 when India was considered to be the growth engine of the world.

That Golden decade saw Indians wanting to conquer the world. Indians were now confident of aspiring to build a large economy like the United States of America, and spoke and dreamt about a robust quality of life, like in many of the progressive European nations. Many analysts would comment that India’s time had finally arrived.

If the decade from 2004 to 2014 belonged to India, one where India rose economically, started to remove her citizens from the clutches of poverty, and created a middle-class base, the decade beginning 2014 could completely transform India into a world leader. Like I’ve written earlier, many believed this was now India’s time, a multi-cultural democracy with people of different languages and faiths all eager to accelerate on the gains of the past decade.

However unfortunately for India, not only have we lost out on the excellent momentum we had going for us, seven years down the line India has in fact fallen back on the many gains she made in the past. Most of these damages, particularly to the economy are self-inflicted such as demonetisation or the unplanned GST. These ridiculous economic decisions created unemployment, hardships, economic turmoil but even then never did anyone imagine that India would have to endure human suffering and pain in the second wave of Covid that would be reminiscent of the human tragedy of the Partition in 1947-48.

That there would be a second Covid wave was scientifically known, yet the government chose to ignore all warnings, mocked citizens who spoke about this, and turned a blind eye to nations that were hit by the second wave. But what is inexcusable is the government was in a self-congratulatory mode, patting its own back instead of preparing for the storm that lay ahead.

Oxygen was exported in double quantities, no new medical oxygen plants were set up, ventilators and oxygen beds were not ramped up and there was a shortage of drugs. If there is ever a manual written on how not to handle a crisis, the Indian government’s approach will make for the ultimate case study.

And when the second wave hit India in the midst of an irresponsible election campaign where the prime minister himself was encouraging massive crowds, suddenly the government abandoned its own people leaving them to fend for themselves.

From lack of oxygen to unavailability of beds, from hospitals running out of oxygen to ambulances and transportation for patients, Indians had to turn to private citizens for help. In a pandemic, there would be casualties, but for people to die because the government could not arrange oxygen is nothing short of criminal.

Even now India is not out of the woods. There will be a third wave and this would hit the non-vaccinated population the hardest. Physically, one still cannot see a ramping up of the infrastructure. As a result of the mismanagement of oxygen in the second wave, cases of Black Fungus are on the rise. The pandemic has given us another epidemic and once again the lack of planning of the government has resulted in a severe shortage of Amphotericin B drugs that are used to treat this fungus. Once again Indians have turned to social media to try and get the injections so desperately needed to save the eyes of their loved ones from popping out or to prevent the fungus from reaching the brain and causing neurological damage.

At the moment Indians are living a hellish nightmare one from which respite seems distant. We are over 300 days away from herd immunity, which shall not happen until a significant percentage of our population is fully vaccinated. And India, the global pharmaceutical hub is today struggling for Covid vaccines to protect its own citizens.

Like I said earlier, this is the greatest human tragedy to fall upon our country since 1947, but then we had a visionary PM like Nehru. An educated man, who followed science and had empathy for mankind. Today, the government seems to lack that. I won’t be surprised if in a few days the government comes out and congratulates itself for handling the second wave brilliantly even as there will be families across India who would have lost their loved ones and unclaimed bodies will be abandoned on river banks.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button