Covid-19 chaos in India

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Covid-19 chaos in India

Nilanjana Bhowmick writes about how the Indian government has failed and the very many unnecessary deaths.


Credit: Presidencia de la República Mexicana/Flickr

As I watched my father’s oxygen levels drop, I felt very sad. None of the hospitals I called had a bed. And the prices for oxygen cylinders were unbelievable, ranging from $1,000-$1,500. I was ready to pay to save my father’s life. But there were no cylinders available.

With India’s terrible second wave of Covid-19 in mid-April 2021, there were more than 300,000 daily cases and so many deaths that cremation and burial grounds could not cope. People everywhere have been trying to find help. At the start the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were doing nothing. Modi was not having meetings with his ministers; he was travelling across the country campaigning for state elections and talking to big rallies.

He wanted his Bharatiya Janata Party to come to power in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal states; it lost. At a national level, the Covid-19 crisis, the migrant crisis, and the failing economy were serious problems for Modi and his party. They did not want popular anger to stop the Hindu votes.

So, as Covid-19 seriously increased across the country and state governments started to impose restrictions on meetings, they allowed Hindu pilgrims to go to the Kumbh Mela festival. The festival, by mid-April, was a super-spreader with crowds taking a bath in the Ganges.

Modi could have stopped all election campaigning and the Kumbh Mela. In 2020 there was only a small increase in Covid-19 cases. Modi did not use the advantage and build the health system but he and his ministers got busy with vaccine diplomacy. An Indian television channel said India sent about 193 million doses of the vaccine abroad and increased its oxygen exports.

In March, the Indian health minister, Harsh Vardhan, a doctor, said that Covid-19 in India was near its end. I do not know the science behind this crazy idea; other countries already had terrible second and third waves. Experts warned of the same for India, but no-one listened. Yes,the government said that people were irresponsible, too, but the government said that Covid-19 was over.

But it was not. The second surge showed how little work Modi’s government has really done. The public health system is collapsing and even the rich, for the first time, could not get hospital beds, oxygen, or ventilators. For the poor it is always the same. In 2018 The Lancet found that 2.4 million Indians die of diseases that can be treated every year.

It was not possible to stop the second surge, but it was possible to contain it. The terrible situation – losing loved ones to unnecessary deaths – shows Modi’s political ambition and that he does not care about the people who voted him to power.



(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)