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Opinion: The ‘Outrageous’ Government Negligence That Led To A Destructive Second Wave

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

India is officially in the second wave of Covid-19, a wave that threatens to be way more damaging than the first one. We have just crossed a morbid line of more than 300,000 cases in one day.

A new triple mutant Covid strain has just been discovered. But the shocking thing is not the number of cases or the deadly variants. It is the outrageous negligence of our leaders cutting across party lines that lead to this second wave that was entirely preventable.

Representational image.

The sheer stupidity and purely dumb behaviour and attitude that comes forward when we take a deeper look into the rising cases make it clear exactly how useless and selfishly power-hungry our political leaders are. The only major countries in my knowledge that have had a worse response to the Covid-19 pandemic than India are the United States (under Donald Trump) and Brazil (Jair Bolsonaro).

I’ll provide a point by point reference in this article as you read ahead.

Why did we allow the Kumbh Mela to happen when we have over 2 lakh cases everyday?

Covid-19 Guidelines

See these pictures? Notice just how responsible our politicians are? It’s good to see them being such great role models, wearing masks, following social distancing and spending a whole lot of time fighting the pandemic. Really makes you feel optimistic and safe that our country is in good hands, doesn’t it?

AIIMS director has put the reason of the second wave on two things – the mutation of the virus and people not following social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. Maybe he can give a talk to the PM, HM, CMs and Party leaders like Rahul Gandhi first since they seem to enjoy being negative influences and role models.  Maybe our doctors and scientists could also impart some thinking skills to the government in regards to Mahakumbh and to a lesser extent, Ramzan of Muslims and Odi of Jains.

As an atheist, I may be biased, but for all the devils, I cannot fathom why religious places and rituals are permitted to happen in a pandemic. I mean assuming Goddess even exists, would she really be glad that you’re accelerating the spread of a virus in her name? (Her doesn’t seem to fit quite as good as him does it? That’s patriarchy) Like this lady creates a universe, is omniscient and has superpowers and is all good and peace and kind and you think she appreciates you causing needless suffering for some ritual or worship of some piece of stone.

And forget religious places and small rituals, allowing the Mahakumbh to happen right in between the second wave when we have cases reaching almost 2 lakh every day? That is the definition of stupid. Remember the outrage against Muslims for ‘Corona Jihad’? I don’t seem to hear the same for Mahakumbh? (That’s Islamaphobia for you)

The BJP rally at Majuli in Assam that Amit Shah attended on 22 March | Twitter: @AmitShah


Four states and one Union Terrority have elections scheduled to be held in a pandemic. Social distancing and staying at home be damned with. In such an emergency, the constitution provides for delaying elections. Why then are we holding elections when it is sure to be a super spreader that may lengthen the second wave or make it even deadlier. Not only are elections being held, but it’s also like all our politicians and elected officials have completely forgotten about the raging pandemic we’re living with.

Massive rallies are being organised, with no social distancing or masks even among the politicians themselves. The Prime Minister and Home Minister are both trailing the election states prioritising their personal political fortune instead of trying to stop the second wave.

While we are breaching records on daily cases, have a huge shortage of beds, ventilators and other equipment, shortage of Remdesivir and a massive shortfall in vaccine production, the PM has derelicted and abandoned his duty as the leader of the government and country, preferring to give communally charged speeches in Bengal.

Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and other opposition leaders are also not too behind. The Covid-19 second wave has exposed the true priorities of all our politicians. And it’s not us, the masses.

Vaccination Goals

Vaccination is probably the easiest way to end this pandemic permanently. (Not completely, there will still be cases but significantly decreased to non-pandemic levels) This means that vaccination of the entire population, starting with the most at risk, as speedily as possible is probably priority number one of the central government, right? Wrong.

Before actions, let us just take a look at the goals of the government, which is, vaccinating 300 million by July. If this is our ‘goal’, it means that 4 months later, we will still have an unvaccinated population of more than a billion people. And if this pace continues, or even increases, it will take a minimum of 6 to 10 months after July to achieve an estimated 70% vaccinated population.

Meaning, even if the government meets or surpasses its own goals, there’s plenty of time for not only the second wave but even a third or fourth wave to occur. And just to be clear, the government is not on track to even fulfil this goal. Now, you might claim that the government isn’t magical, and can’t do a lot about this but as I will explain below, we could have navigated the second one a whole lot better and avoided the massive spike.

Back to the goals, when our goals are only this small, how can we expect any future of ending the pandemic in India sooner than next year? When you’re aiming for the sky, how are you going to reach the moon in space?

covid vaccine
Representational image.

Vaccine Exports

One of the most foolishly dumb thing that the Modi government did was exporting the vaccine. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for helping other underdeveloped countries cope with Covid-19. But, as they say in airlines, first put on your mask and then help others do it.

Why then, knowing that we would need close to 2.5 billion vaccines (counting one person as 2 doses), did the government allow the export of nearly 60 million vaccines? A part of these went to the Covax efforts that were legally required in the deal SII struck with AstraZeneca, but the vast majority was exported commercially.

In March, India for some inconceivable reason had exported more vaccines than it had used at home. EA Minister Jaishankar has defended the export of vaccines by saying that we needed raw materials exports from other countries and if they blocked its sale like the US has done recently, our production might be affected. But this argument then further raises the question of why we are in this situation and why we waited until the second wave hitting to procure raw materials?

Why wait till all countries, burdened by the second, third and fourth waves seek vaccines and raw materials to produce them? There were few or no restrictions on raw materials previously. We could have built up a stock then. While we exported vaccines to other countries, now we ourselves face a shortage of them. We are now trying to import vaccines ironically. We were well placed to prevent a second wave of Covid considering that we are the number 1 producer of vaccines in the world, but now we are struggling to contain the wave due to the missteps and lack of planning of the government.

Writer’s Note:

This article is part of a series of 3-4 articles revolving around India’s second wave of Covid 19. This is the 1st article in the series.

If you liked this article please upvote and share it. I’ll be writing the 2nd part which shall cover the issues of vaccine production, regulation and purchase missteps. Follow me by clicking on my profile to get updates on the later parts.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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