The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is upon India with greater ferocity. The pandemic started in late 2019, had spread from China to Europe and had just touched the shores of the U.S.A. The Government of India was warned and well aware of the impending crisis, but it dithered in closing international borders.
The result was an epidemic like situation, which resulted in a harsh lockdown of people and millions suffered in the aftermath with unemployment and hunger.
This time around, the reason for the lockdown is even more ridiculous. Restrictions were eased, life seemed to be getting back to normal and the government even boasted that India had beaten the virus without any supporting evidence. Festivals were allowed to be organised and the Election Commission announced state assembly elections. There was a massive congregation for the Kumbh Mela festival and huge election rallies in five states.
It is peak summer across most of India at this time and people are vulnerable to falling sick. People tend to eat less food and sleep less when the weather becomes hot, which results in reduced immunity. So it is no surprise that COVID-19 has reared up its ugly head again.
Lockdowns are essentially the government’s way of saying it is incapable of handling an escalating situation, abdicating responsibility and passing the buck on to the people. In simple terms, diseases are conflicts between higher order and lower order organisms in nature and along with the food chain is how nature keeps the population of every living being under control. Microorganisms are constantly mutating and evolving in nature.
A disease of any magnitude could break out at any time in nature. We have always been living on this ticking time bomb. Even if the government does not understand this, it is its responsibility to improve and ramp up the country’s health infrastructure constantly.
In India, in most states, education and health are on the lowest side of the government’s priority list. So, will the government ever be prepared for a pandemic? This governance failure is passed on to the people and people are made to suffer. Locking people up inside their homes has the detrimental effect of lowering their immunity level and making them vulnerable to more diseases, but the government is shortsighted enough to focus on winning a battle now and not being able to see a war coming in the future.
Kerala government is coming up with weird rules as it began a statewide lockdown yesterday. Unlike during the last year’s lockdown, when supermarkets were allowed to function, this time supermarkets have been closed down. Supermarkets are the best places to manage crowds and enforce social distancing.
Now, people are rushing to local stores where crowd control and social distancing is impossible. Opening supermarket stores will distribute the people among the supermarkets and local shops and reduce the possibility of transmission. In a nearby local store, two customers were apparently squabbling over one remaining packet of bread. I wrote to the district collector to consider opening supermarkets and received no response.
Now, the government has come up with a website portal for generating e-pass for emergency travel within respective cities and towns. The instructions state that even for medical emergencies, people have to apply for the e-pass, wait for approval, print it and carry it with them. The irony here is that the government expects everyone who has internet access at home also to own printers.
Printing is usually done at local internet browsing centres, which are all shut down now. Upon enquiry, I was told two things:
They expect someone to sit and write an affidavit or call the counsellor and wait when their father/mother/sibling needs emergency medical care. This is the level of incompetence and complete lack of rationale that plagues India’s civil administration.
The virulence of COVID-19 is of very small magnitude when compared to the virus that caused smallpox. Millions have died because of smallpox and my granny used to say that wailing could be heard from every other house because death was everywhere.
When a foreign substance of any form enters our body, our immune system immediately mobilises itself to fight and destroy it. Our body is a sophisticated system and our immune system is designed in such a way as to aggressively restore the balance of the body when something causes an imbalance.
The first step is to isolate the foreign substance and prevent it from multiplying and spreading through the blood. Once this is done, the immune system will eliminate the foreign substance. In the case of COVID-19, the first step is failing and the immune system tries more aggressively to attack the virus. This results in the immune system losing focus from other diseases people are suffering from and the subsequent complications led to the most number of deaths in the first wave.
After the second wave has started, I am hearing about younger people and people without comorbidities getting affected. There seems to be only one reason for this. Rapid urbanisation has revamped people’s food habits and lifestyle completely, which has alienated people even further from nature.
Our immune system stays efficient only when it comes into contact with different types of microorganisms constantly, fights them and adapts itself to new diseases. This is all about information, so the greater information our immune system has about microorganisms, the better it will be able to protect us.
When a boxer quits fighting, he invariably gains weight and becomes sluggish. The same happens with the immune system when we spend our entire time holed up in A/C rooms and travel in A/C vehicles. Then, when our junk food and “eating-at-whatever-time” lifestyle leads to diseases like cholesterol, diabetes, high BP and cardiac issues, the immune system is in no state to fight them. On top of all this, when a new virus attacks us for which the immune system needs time to fight, we can only expect the worse to happen to us.
The entire Indian system is at fault for this second wave. The Election Commission should not have gone ahead with the state assembly elections without a clear green signal from the medical fraternity. Even when the elections were declared, no political party showed any inclination to oppose the decision knowing fully well that election rallies are inevitable in the electoral process in India, which always leads to massive uncontrolled crowds.
Every political party is hungry to win elections and grab people’s power no matter what the situation is. Even the Supreme Court did not choose to step in, cancel the elections and order incumbent state governments to continue as caretaker governments.
We, the people, did not bother either. We knew what happened last year, yet we chose to go for election rallies and vote in large numbers on election day. Add to this, Indians are addicted to festivals and festivities. Even pandemics don’t matter because Gods will protect us.
The disaster the world is witnessing has been in the making from the time of India’s independence from colonial rule. India is a democracy only by its Constitution. “Rule” is still the word used instead of “govern”, especially by the media. India is “ruled” by central and respective state governments. People’s representatives become people’s rulers and become inaccessible and unaccountable after they win elections.
Corruption has become an incurable disease. Religions driven by blind belief take precedence over law and order. Orders passed by courts are imposed by the civil administration, which the government controls, so courts do not have the power to punish lapses in governance.
So, warnings of a second wave of the pandemic were conveniently ignored for conducting elections and festivals and the entire country is suffering again. Calls for Modi to resign are insensible because replacing leaders without reforming the system is not going to change anything.
Finally, what is incomprehensible is the fear of death among people, which the media is amplifying and driving into everybody’s minds. Death is a natural conclusion to life in the universe. Our sun will burn out and die in a few billion years. The universe itself is supposed to come to an end. Millions of animals and human beings are dying every day because of a variety of reasons.
Diseases are one way of population control in nature. This may not be to everybody’s taste, but this is how nature works. I say this knowing well that my parents and I could also get infected with COVID-19.
Nature follows the golden rule of “survival of the fittest”. Only the strongest will survive in nature. We moved away from nature and forgot the golden rule and to keep ourselves healthy at all times. I hope this pandemic will be a reminder for everyone to return to nature, understand nature better and improve their lifestyle drastically.
Our lives hinge on abiding and living by nature’s rules and flouting them will only lead to our own destruction.