A lot of what I have pointed out in this article series centres around the lack of government funding. The lack of funds for vaccine production, Remdesivir, Beds and Equipment, etc. My main argument here continues to be that any amount the government spends on Covid, will most definitely be less than the economic destruction as a consequence of lockdowns. In a pandemic like this one, funds shouldn’t be a problem for any task involving fighting it.
Yes, the Covid outbreak has hit government revenues and private funds and the economy at large but doesn’t that simply underline the fact that we must do whatever we can to stop it from continuing its economic rampage? Government’s have never had a problem funding electoral sops and freebies and useless poll schemes to buy votes, so why the misery in funding anti-pandemic measures?
Even right now with the 5 states elections in mind, state, as well as central governments, continued with their poll sops. TMC hastened to hike the wages under the West Bengal Urban Employment Scheme. AIADMK-BJP in Tamil Nadu announced waivers on gold loans and farmer waivers. At the central level, Finance Minister in the February budget session focused big on the 5 poll-bound states wooing them with questionably prioritised funding. Where the money is, there the priority is. And the money is in buying votes.
The reason for a shortage of Remdesivir is thought to be the stoppage or slow down of manufacturing in January and February by the pharma industry due to low demand. Since Remdesivir has a shelf life of 6 – 8 months, no company wanted to risk wasting away the drug. But I would like to question this. The company’s stand is understandable. They are simply looking after their profits and losses. But the government? Shouldn’t the government have intervened and pledged to foot the bill of any wastage? International situations show us that waves can hit fast and hard, so wouldn’t it have been better to be prepared even at the cost of some wastage? As I have said before, any spending in stopping Covid is by far outweighed by the destruction caused by lockdowns and restrictions.
Vaccine and Remdesivir are not the only shortages India faces in the 2nd wave. The list of shortages also includes hospital beds, medical oxygen, ventilators and such equipment. Medical oxygen was found to be in surplus during the 1st wave due to Industrial oxygen being diverted to it in the 1st lockdown. But since then it has started going down due to the resurgence of industrial oxygen. So the question is, why allow industrial oxygen when medical oxygen literally is saving lives?
As I have noted multiple times, the government does have emergency powers to divert resources from private industries to any emergency situation. Why wasn’t this done? The Delhi HC too tore into the central government on 21st April, for not diverting industrial oxygen to medical use and overall doing nothing to stop this shortage. Ventilators and beds are also in shortage due to an absence of pre-planning. The government, state and central are working on converting banquet halls, trains, other open spaces to makeshift hospitals. The same question arises again. Why wasn’t there any pre-planning?
One big reason for a lot of currently faced problems is complacency on the part of the union government. Since the start of the pandemic in the 1st wave to right now in the 2nd wave, the government rhetoric has continued to be absurdly optimistic and has denied basic facts. And at some point, I think the Modi government itself has started believing their false rhetoric. The health minister is living in a different world altogether. A world in which there are no shortages of anything.
He has repeatedly denied the shortage of everything and anything in his Covid fantasy. No shortage of vaccines. No shortage of medical oxygen. No shortage of ventilators. No shortage of beds. No shortage of Remdesivir. He, I believe may have found a gateway to an imaginary parallel world judging by his outright ignorance and arrogance on the ground situation. Not just him, leaders like Piyush Goyal also have carried on with this false rhetoric with no signs that they may acknowledge the crisis filled situation in India. On the ground, people are dying due to shortages. State governments are repeatedly saying they face severe shortages. Journalists have almost in consensus reported the crisis and shortages.
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High Courts – Gujarat, Delhi, UP, Madras and Mumbai and the Supreme Court had pulled up the BJP government on their false rhetorics about everything being in control many times. Medical bodies have too raised questions and spoken on shortages faced. Literally, every major international newspaper is printing articles on the ‘world’s pharmacy facing vaccine shortages and its failures in vaccinating its own people. Yet, it’s like the Modi led BJP has cut off all ties with reality. And how can you work to ensure no shortages are there if you won’t even acknowledge the reality of their existence?
Be unscientific quackery by scientist bodies large and far. Not the first time it happened either. BJP leader was also criticised for saying that Ganga would prevent Covid at Mahakumbha. While every party has failed the public on Covid, the BJP is living in a dangerous state of total denial and complacency.
Not just shortages, the health minister had declared several times before the 2nd wave, the latest being Jan 2021, that India had “defeated” corona and the situation was in control in India. Not only this he has taken to calling all criticism plus advice on his government’s Covid management including one letter from former PM Manmohan Singh to be as false propaganda and selfish politics. And let’s not forget the quackery being promoted by BJP leaders.
The Indian Medical Association blasted Harsh Vardhan furiously for promoting alternative medicine considered to
There’s that saying that goes something like, “It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s that you don’t have priority”. The Prime Minister is a busy man. He’s got literally the entire country on his plate. So his beliefs and the value of things in his opinion can be discerned by taking a look at how he spends his time. And if you’ve been reading the news regularly you’ll know what he is focused on doing. rallies.
The PM has 24 hours just like the rest of us. And for some reason, he decided that his time was spent better, in the middle of the 2nd wave, on political rallies and speeches in poll-bound states rather than tackling the pandemic. Time shows a person’s priorities, and Modi’s priorities are pretty obvious right now.
No mask, huge crowds and no social distancing. He has not only left behind his job to lead the nation during a pandemic, he is actually making it worse and breaking his own rules. And it’s not like there is nothing to do. There are pleas from SII and other vaccine producers for funds that need signing off, there is the raw material export ban in the US that needs engaging on, there’s the shortage of literally everything needed to be brainstorming on, but he has decided that that is not the most important and urgent issue. That place is occupied by the elections in five states. He is not reachable by CMs as demonstrated when Uddhav Thackeray was denied speaking with the Prime Minister due to being busy with campaigning.
Yes, even CMs like Mamta Banerjee are at fault over here, but the central government has a lot, a lot more important role in fighting the pandemic and the PM is literally the leader supreme in India. But he has abandoned any pretence for caring for the people beyond getting their votes. For the right-wing BJP supporters, criticism, mockery, differing opinions, refusing the choice of patriotism and abuse can easily bring about the label of anti-national. So what exactly do we now call a person who has pledged to serve and lead the nation but is abandoning that duty for power?
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