Image make-over amidst pandemictext_fields
While the second wave of the pandemic is seeing a decline in the number of cases, there is a sharp increase in the number of fatalities. The 1,96,427 additional cases in the last 24 hours have brought the total tally to 2.69 crore infections countrywide. The numbers from the Ministry of Health claim 3,07,231 fatalities. Experts have warned against a more severe third wave hitting in the coming months. Health experts have no alternative to offer but vaccinations against this pandemic. The Ministry claims to have distributed 19,60,51,962 doses of vaccine so far; six times this number still await vaccination. If the vaccine drive continues at this pace, it will take significant time before a sufficient section of the population is vaccinated against this pandemic. On the other hand, the death tally is surging. Over half of the total deaths in the country was reported in the last 40 days alone. While only 5,417 cases were reported last March, 45,862 deaths were reported in April a year later. India ranks below the US and Brazil in the COVID death toll. However, this position is temporary. The WHO has warned that India would soon emerge first globally in covid deaths. And then what about the resulting losses?
The losses and suffering the nation faces are indescribable. Most commercial and industrial orgnisations are almost completely shut down. The transport sector has been in trouble for over a year. Labour sector lies practically frozen. Hospitals have no space nor time for patients with non-COVID diseases. We are entering a second year without regular education. Officials have no clue when to conduct important examinations. Students and their parents both are running in anxiety. Other than the temporary relief granted by the free ration kits by the state government, there is little solution to the crisis in sight.
It is the duty of the elected governments at the state and the Centre to be prepared and be aware of this unprecedented crisis, and find solutions for it. What can be done if the NDA alliance that is in power in both the Centre and a large majority of the states still does not understand the gravity of the situation? It was only the other day that the RSS, the Hindutva group that effectively controls the Indian government, called for a meeting of people in charge. The meeting, attended by PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president JP Nadda and RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale among others, surprisingly did not make dealing with the pandemic its main agenda. Instead, it discussed how to fix the bad image that the ruling government bore over mismanagement of the pandemic. What haunt them are the chances of a setback in the UP elections set to happen next year, like the one they suffered in Bengal and Kerala last month. The UP CM Yogi's words and actions - or rather, inactions- do not inspire much optimism. The dead bodies of COVID patients floating on the holy river of the Ganga invited a lot of attention in the international media. The leaders of the BJP and RSS are worried about the damage this has caused to the bubble of international image and hype built around Modi. RSS Sarsangh Chalak Mohan Bhagwat publicly expressed his dissatisfaction a few days ago. The leadership meeting has decided that there will be no celebrations on May 30th, when the Modi government completes seven years in power. They will instead engage in social service activities. That the Central government's Ayurveda Research Council asked the SevaBharati to distribute the Ayush-64 medicine indicates that even the RSS's service activities will be done with taxpayer funding. One cannot expect anything else from an organisation that pays no heed to humanitarianism or public service but instead has adopted hate and discrimination as their fundamental streak. Or what is the need at all to spend anything for the nation's good, when there is no one to question the expenditure of public money on false propaganda?