In 2018, the Marvel universe set the stage high with the release of Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos, the villain, snapped his finger and obliterated 50% of the population across the universe. In 2020, the world genuflected in front of a mutant virus, claimed to have originated originate in Wuhan, China. This virus took a lot of lives and left destruction in its wake. Some even hysterically claimed that this virus was an onset of the snap by Thanos.
India was the first in line to export medicines and medical equipment to other countries and was nicknamed ‘the pharmaceutical country of the world’. India was adhering to the ethos of our foreign policy, i.e. ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum’ (The world is one family). According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) website, India exported the made-in-India COVID vaccines to more than 90 countries, with a total supply crossing 500 lakhs. Only when things seemed to settle down and functions were getting normal, India was hit by the second wave of the virus like a tsunami.
Over the last month, India witnessed a spike in the infection rate, shortage of oxygen cylinders, vaccines, hospital beds, and so on. India transformed from an exporter to an importer in the global arena. Over the last few days, various countries stepped forward to India’s aid. The flight from France landed in India on May 2nd, and we received medical equipment and various essential supplies from France- which included 28 tonnes of medical equipment and 8 oxygen generators.
This is part of the ‘solidarity mission’ to help India fight against the devastating second wave. The French ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, said that these plants shall establish eight hospitals in India as ‘oxygen autonomous’ for ten years. The French ministry made a statement saying that it was carrying out an “exceptional solidarity mission” to assist India and its people.
India was given 120 ventilators from Germany as aid which landed on May 1st. According to sources, Germany will further send a mobile oxygen production and filling plant next week. Thirteen German technical personnel shall assist with installation and help train the staff in the use of equipment. Germany is also sending a contingent of Remdesivir and other medicines. The procurement of medical equipment is also being made from private contractors in Germany.
India received a consignment of 100 oxygen concentrators from Uzbekistan, which was accompanied by medical supplies. The Indian diaspora in Uzbekistan contributed 51 oxygen concentrators. MEA spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava commented that this act has further deepened the strategic ties bilaterally.
The third shipment, carrying over a thousand oxygen cylinders, regulators, and other medical equipment arrived on May 2nd from the USA. India also received 1,50,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia. The Russian ambassador to India, Nikolay Kudashev, said that the efficiency of this vaccine is the highest in the world and will help India during these tense times.
India received 9000 vials of Remdesivir medication from Belgium. The Government of India decided to exempt basic custom duty on import of COVID-19 vaccines, along with health cess on the import of medical grade oxygen and other equipment for a period of three months. The global pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer decided to send vaccines worth USD 70 million from across its centers located in the USA, Europe, and Asia, and have identified this as part of India’s COVID-19 treatment protocol. Many other countries in the world- including Australia, Romania, Ireland, Portugal, Singapore, Luxembourg, Sweden, Mauritius, Kuwait, and New Zealand- have also offered assistance to India in these trying times, and a few of them have already delivered supplies, medicines, and aid to India.
Across the spectrum, people are blaming the failure of the government’s anticipation and planning for the sudden spike in cases and the second wave turning into a tsunami. Videos were circulated, where people were accusing the central government of carrying out election rallies in states and organizing the Kumbh Mela. People gathered in thousands to take a dip in the holy water. According to a report, at least 1700 who were present at the Kumbh Mela tested positive, and another report from Kolkata said that every second person is testing positive.
The infection rate in India has crossed 30% with the highest record on April 30th, crossing 4 lakh cases and more than 30,000 deaths. Different people have given this wave an ideological tilt based on their assumptions and education, further spreading paranoia. Many people blamed the government for spending crores in building the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue in Gujarat, when the resources could have been utilized to brush the infrastructure and improve the conditions of living in the country.
The construction of the Central Vista Redevelopment Project also seemed hurried as it was not an immediate requirement, and that money could have been alternatively and judiciously utilized. The PM Cares fund was also not spared from the spotlight. The government did make a mistake by failing to anticipate the second wave, and did not make preparations accordingly for this biological pogrom, which could have been controlled if we were better prepared.
Now, in order to bridge this rift, the government is working tirelessly to save lives, and healthcare workers are fighting day and night to protect lives.Cremation grounds are flooded with funeral processions, and many are even waiting for their turn. The situation has worsened faster than anyone could even blink, let alone ask for help in time.
The Uttar Pradesh administration has decided to punish people spreading false news about oxygen and bed shortages as the state government claimed that it is self-sufficient, and is facing no shortages. In such harsh times, when India is sick and marooned, everyone should come together and help rather than pointing fingers at the people responsible.
It is time we stand in solidarity and support our sick brethren as much as possible while following precautions, so that we do not become an additional burden on the doctors, hospitals, and our families. With patience, perseverance, a little ambivalence, added with the support from various countries, we can all phase out from this gloomy reality and walk into a bright and sunny day once again. As Loki said to his brother before dying at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, “The sun will shine on us again.”