And the lessons others are learning from it
While political parties are blaming Modi-Shah’s grab for power greed and elections wins as their priority in the second half of 2020 which as a consequence put India at real risk of facing the second wave without any preparation, foreign experts view India’s current COVID tsunami differently. Speaking on COVID mess in India Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert has said that India is in such “dire straits” because it made the “incorrect assumption” that they were finished with the COVID-19 and opened up prematurely.
The truth may lie in the second observation which could also explain – the ‘business as usual’ approach of the Modi government which failed not only to do its bit, it also failed to urge and coax the state governments to do theirs.
The result – Indians are reeling under an unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus and its next to nothing health infrastructure has exposed hospitals in several states absolutely strained under the shortage of health workers, vaccines, oxygen, drugs and beds.
“The reason that India is in such dire straits now is that they had an original surge and made the incorrect assumption that they were finished with it, and what happened, they opened up prematurely and wind up having a surge right now that we’re all very well aware of is extremely devastating,” Dr Fauci told Senate Health, Education, Labour and Pensions Committee during a hearing on the COVID-19 Response.
Dr Fauci is the Chief Medical Advisor to US President Joe Biden.
When asked what lessons can be learnt from India’s horrendous COVID second wave ordeal
“One of the important things is don’t ever underestimate the situation,” Fauci said alluding to India’s incorrect assumption and premature opening up.
Commenting on India’s non-existent health infrastructure given the size of its population, Dr Fauci added:
“The second thing is preparedness with regard to public health, preparedness, which we, as a lesson learned for future pandemics, have to realise that we need to continue to build up our local public health infrastructure, which over the last decades we have let actually in many respects go into disarray, likely because of our successes in controlling so many diseases.”
Not mincing words that a pandemic is a global problem that requires a joint global response and approach, Dr Fauci said attention has to be paid to the “responsibility that we have, not only for our own country, but to join with other countries to make sure that we have the access to interventions, particularly vaccines throughout the world.”
“Because if it continues to have dynamics of virus anywhere in the world, we have a threat here in the United States, particularly with variants, and you know there’s one variant in India that is also a new variant…So those are just a few of the lessons that I believe we can take from what’s going on in India,” Dr Fauci added.
While Modi supporters do not want to blame him for the current mess, his lack of leadership in the past 8-10 months, since India felt it had dealt with the pandemic last year to keep the nation prepared for any future waves cannot be wished away.
As far the COVID mess in India is concerned, Modi has had little foresight in that period and while opposition’s attacks – for his ‘business as usual’ approach have some force, India’s fractured leadership both in power and opposition and their petty political agendas coupled with non-existent genuine media scrutiny – has a lot to answer for.
During those crucial months, the leadership should have realized how negligible India’s health infrastructure was, criminally ignored by successive governments of all persuasions, right from the time India got independence and chartered a special course of action to deal with potential second wave. Instead, they (the BJP and all opposition parties at centre and state levels) chose to do their normal, petty politics, while some indulged in writing books of political fiction and continued political point scoring full time.
To some extent, India’s religious leaders – for not cancelling Ramadan and Kumbh Mela and other potential COVID spreading gatherings should also carry some responsibility for this COVID mess in India.
After recording over four lakh fresh cases for four consecutive days, India now has 3,70,4099 active COVID-19 cases with 19382642 people discharged from hospitals after recovery but 2,54,197 Indians have lost their lives to COVID.