Terrible Portents, Terrible Country: Brazen Invitation To COVID-19 Third Wave In India!


Sometime in February 2021 daily COVID-19 cases started rising in the state of Kerala, and then obviously, cases showed a upward trend in Maharashtra from March onward. But as we have said so many times earlier that during that time nobody was talking about a lurking second wave and the governments of the country called India were obsessed with elections of various types, religious celebrations to propitiate various communities while the larger public indulged themselves no holds barred after what they called nearly a year-long deprivation. And, the murderous second wave ravaged the country: medical infrastructure hopelessly overburdened; governments caught fully unprepared and thousands dying in the hospitals gasping for breath or dying in the streets waiting for some air or dying in the parked cars or at homes hoping to get the medical oxygen desperately; the crematoriums/burial grounds unable even to do justice to the dead bodies; and many disposed bodies of people of rural areas perishing without treatment floating in the rivers. The government’s estimate of total deaths is suspected to fall short of the actual figure by at least two to three hundred thousand. Those nightmarish images haunt us; unfortunately only some of us: not the rulers or the people with unspent riches and restlessly waiting for indulgence.

 

Back to the present moment which is full of similar warning signs. As it has been becoming much of a riddle as to why the states of Kerala and Maharashtra always lead the virus charge from the front, again and again, daily new cases in Kerala are again showing a rising trend, which, in all probability, is going to make cases rise in Maharashtra too where daily cases and deaths are still not under full control. Further, the devastating second wave is far from over with fluctuating daily new cases and deaths, and for a change this time, everybody is talking about, warning about, speculating about a third wave in light of several COVID-19 variants like the Delta Plus and others, apart from the dominant Delta variant, particularly the weary doctors’ fraternity who have lost more than 1600 doctors in the second wave. The R or the reproduction factor in  terms of one person spreading the virus has also been showing a rising trend as during the second wave. Faced with such tremendous challenges ahead and the horrid experience of the last few months what the governments and some people of this terrible country are doing?

 

The Prime Minister has been saying the right things about maintaining COVID appropriate behavior, avoiding any kind of congregations and to prevent the third wave with all stakeholders uniting and cooperating. However, these things are only meant to be general sermonizing, because when it comes to specifics the rulers do things or act much differently the reasons for which are never far to seek. This time even the rulers are differing in their decisions concerning different states. While listening to the Prime Minister the state of Uttarakhand has cancelled the highly dangerous religious Kanwar Yatra the state of Uttar Pradesh has shown colossal brazenness in going ahead with it: some ruling party leaders of the state even saying that if the Chief Minister is confident of doing it successfully following COVID protocols then there is nothing wrong in going ahead. Well, the event involves 30-40 million pilgrims. Again, the rallies for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections have started with none other than the supreme ruler addressing huge crowds what he himself described as ‘congregations’ and how to avoid it. More elections are just beckoning round the precarious corners.

 

We had earlier spoken about Covidiots that include an overwhelming majority of people including, of course the rulers or politicians. However, more outrageous than just covidiocy it is the scary insensitivity of the people, particularly the moneyed people with all avenues for spending closed during the lockdowns, and they, perhaps, waited for opportunities to go on celebrating sprees while thousands continued to die. Millions of poor people have lost their jobs the world over, millions have been suffering from plain hunger, a tragic case has come up in the state of Assam where poor hungry jobless people are selling their kidneys to an illegal racket now busted to survive; and these insensitive hordes of rich people are landing up in all tourist spots throwing the COVID protocols out on the others as if they could never get the virus themselves. No wonder, the hospitality sector, the worst affected since the pandemic, are lapping them up with the governments unlocking almost everything. When questioned about their indiscretion the hotel owners lament that the central government had never offered a helping hand to them since the last one and half years. So many restaurants, bars and even big-chain hotels have closed down partially or permanently in the meantime.

 

No efforts are being spared at this moment to help the third wave sweep and devastate us again. We fervently hope the citizens and the governments wake up fast and prevent what seems now to be inevitable. Experts and doctors are saying again and again that health is not a religious or an electoral issue, and people can enjoy in the future only when they sacrifice something at this present crisis to preserve their health. We also hope the Supreme Court of India puts its foot down on terminating the Kanwar Yatra in all states; in fact, the top court has already issued notices to the Government of India and Uttar Pradesh on this, saying clearly that if the states dither in their decisions the central government must intervene and clamp down its final decision.  

 

To make matters more worrying the vaccination drive is also yet to pick up, crowds thronging the limited centers with absolutely no social distancing norms. Yet, even the new central health minister has renewed the eternal denial about a vaccine shortage blaming the opposition political parties and the states for mismanaging the drive. When would this terrible country of grown-up immature people finally see reason independent of all kinds of biases?

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