IMAGES of serious covid patients waiting for a bed outside hospitals, continuous burning of pyres at cremation grounds, and now even bodies floating down the holy Ganga river, shall forever remain ingrained in our minds.
Reports of patients dying due to non availability of ICU beds or supplies of oxygen running out leading to patients gasping for breath and severe shortage of medicines to treatment of the disease are equally shocking.
And now come the reports of the virus spreading to the rural areas of the country.
It is doubtful that we would ever know the full extent of deaths due to covid. There may be only very few who would be believing the official count of those succumbing to the virus.
Cremation grounds at most places are reporting many times more cremations taking place than what is stated in official figures.
Many more cremation grounds and burial grounds have come up and at some places even parking areas are being used as makeshift cremation grounds.
It is more than obvious that there has been gross mismanagement in dealing with the crisis.
The government did not prepare enough for the second wave when it was already raging in America, Mexico and Europe.
Even the warning signals from Maharashtra, where the second wave hit first, were ignored.
There was hardly any effort made to ramp up production of vaccine or create infrastructure to deal with the tidal wave in the offing. If indeed any effort was made, it is not visible on the ground.
India claimed victory over covid too early and declared itself as the saviour of the world. It went on to export 6.63 billion doses of vaccine to 93 countries at the cost of stock piling it for domestic need.
Government has claimed that since some of the raw materials are imported, the conditions included supply of finished product. It may be correct in a couple of cases but how do you explain export of 6.63 billion doses to 93 countries.
Most of these countries had lesser extent of pandemic than india even when these exports were done. As the English saying goes : Charity begins at home.
And it was definitely wrong for the government to claim that it successfully tided over the first wave.
Our track record was worse than the neighbouring and comparatively poorer neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
This despite the sudden and ill advised complete lockdown that brought untold miseries to millions and sharply affected the economy.
Large sections of government and the media had been claiming the country’s dealing with the first wave as “successful”. However it is a misnomer as the first wave affected the poor and the marginalised the worst. It did not directly touch middle class people like me and you as the second wave has done.
Media also failed the country in adequately reporting the plight of the poor who trudged hundreds of miles to walk back home with many paying with their lives.
They are now facing another serious situation with the spread of the second wave in rural India. Given our poor medical infrastructure in rural areas and lack of adequate awareness, one can only shudder at the consequences.
As per the latest data over two thirds of the country is in the grip of the pandemic with 533 districts reporting over 10 per cent positivity rate. Unlike the quick economic recovery after the first wave, this time the impact would be much worse and recovery slower.
The only way to tackle with the pandemic is to step up tests and unleash a massive vaccination drive. However the central government has created more confusion by amending its vaccination policy and shifting the responsibility to the states. This has disrupted the supply chain and led to serious shortage of the vaccine.
What the government should have done much earlier has now been done by the Supreme Court by directing formation of a high level task force to deal with the pandemic.
While everyone is currently busy dealing with the grim situation, it would be worthwhile to take a serious stock of the situation and put more efficient officers to deal with the crisis.
Responsibility must be fixed and some heads must roll for the utter mismanagement and lack of foresight to deal with the current situation.
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