Analysing the Corona situation in India – Who is to be blamed?

| Shreyas Goutam
Along with China, shortcoming of governments, citizens are also equally responsible for the current predicament. Barring the initial few weeks, the people of India did not adhere to the lockdown and quarantine protocols as mandated.

Coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest tragedies in recent human history. Along with the death of millions, the lockdowns imposed in many countries to contain the spread of disease disrupted the economic activities. This resulted not only in loss of lives but also increased poverty.

Being in a globalised world, India with its second-highest population is also affected although India overcame the first wave with relative success to the surprise of many the same cannot be said about the second wave. There is need to analyse the situation that has led to the present situation and figure out the reasons behind it.

China

Even with the contrary assertion of the Communist Party of China, there is little doubt in the scientific community about the origin of the virus in Wuhan. The question of the specific origin, whether it is man-made or natural mutation is still to be answered with conclusive proof. With the new reports coming out, there is increasing scepticism about it being a natural mutation. This does not necessarily mean that Corona was developed as a bioweapon but evidence points to a leak in the Wuhan lab which was researching coronavirus.

With its influence in the world health organisation, China is trying to avoid any investigations conclusively. The credibility of WHO has also come into the radar for their conduct during the pandemic. During the past outbreak of diseases, scientists were successfully able to trace the origin within eight months or a year. Though more than a year and a half has passed, there is still no conclusive proof of natural mutation of virus from the wet market in Wuhan. Notwithstanding its suffering, there have been many instances of China holding up information that made many scientists contradict their previous statements including Dr Fauci who admitted that the lab leak origin cannot be rejected.

With a dictatorial attitude and an opaque administration, it is a very difficult task to complete an independent investigation and arrive at a conclusion regarding the origin. China’s effort initially to contain the virus and providing the necessary information was lacklustre at best and this raises concerns over its influence internationally. The world has to take note of its behaviour during this crisis when dealing with it.

Government

Being a developing nation with the second largest population, many of whom live in slums without good ventilation and hygiene many experts had declared India to have the disastrous effect of the pandemic. But it is safe to say that contrary to their doomsday prediction India is in a relatively good state. The central government took robust action from the initial stages where it took temperature screening test in the airport. Although it wasn’t an effective move it was the only way At that time. Prime Minister also announced the ‘Janata curfew’ in late March even before the United States of America which was still debating.

The idea of the Janata curfew was to give initiative and the responsibility to the citizens to police themselves and increase the sense of responsibility among the people. The success of the series of lockdowns was shocking to many who weren’t convinced of the effectiveness of the move. Along with this, the government also took steps to increase the production of surgical masks and PPO kits which was imported heavily from China with insignificant production within the country. The government also took steps to build the necessary infrastructure and health equipment to overcome the crisis.

The story of the second wave is another matter altogether. Having one of the biggest production capabilities of vaccine and then ingenious vaccine developed the present situation of the dearth of vaccines in the country is alarming, to say the least. This may be attributed to the overzealous attitude towards the export of vaccine perhaps not taking into consideration the domestic demands and necessities. When other countries were placing excessive orders for the citizens India perhaps overlooked its importance resulting in the situation where countries like the USA according to some estimates having vaccines more than three times The population.

Along with the unlocking of the country, the UK mutation hit India hard as a second wave. State governments alarmed by the decreasing state funds due to the lack of economic activities unlock these states little prematurely and without adequate planning. The deficiency in the administration of the states cannot be overlooked in the situation. With different situations emerging in different states central government gave more authority to the respective states so that they could deal with the coronavirus according to their situation. But the state governments were unable to assess and handle the situation with care and planning that was expected leading to the increase in infections.

Citizens

The citizens are also equally responsible for the current predicament. No country in the world has the necessary infrastructure to take care of the demands of the population this large. Being a developed country with all its resources and infrastructure, the UK itself broke down during the early stages. Barring the initial few weeks, the people of India did not adhere to the lockdown and quarantine protocols as mandated.

There were many cases of assaults on Asha workers and few cases where mobs disobeyed the quarantine measures put in place to decrease the infection rate. Many people even after a whole year of warning and instructions are reluctant to adhere to the government guidelines. Many among us are still not responsible enough to wear a mask properly. Many cover just their mouths while some do not wear a mask at all.

Way Forward

All is not lost as the Covid situation has also shown the resilience of people. Many individuals and NGOs came forward voluntarily to provide food and necessary items in these testing times for the poor. Many are donating oxygen and ventilators for those in need.

Interestingly, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has invented a new drug that has the potential to decrease the oxygen necessary for Covid patients. These kinds of innovative and scientific attitudes will make the fight against Covid easier with fewer casualties.

India has to get access to funds for vaccine manufacturers to increase their production so that at least within a couple of months India can increase its vaccinating capacity. There is also a proposal to mediate between the vaccine institutions and other pharmaceutical enterprises to reach an agreement to increase production. Government must introduce a system where the vaccine company shares the vaccine formula with MSMEs with adequate infrastructure and expertise to produce the vaccine for mutual profit and the well-being of the country.

Government must increase vaccination which seems to be the most promising way of coming out of this pandemic. India must also increase the nutritional and healthy content in the daily diets of its citizens along with the development of healthy habits. The government needs to introduce more nutritious items like ragi, millets in its public distribution scheme which will increase the immunity and endurance of the citizens.

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