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Dying in India

 "Dying in India..."

5 Feb, 2024

In dark and raging times like today when values ​​are illusory and guardian and when the dictatorship of the image blindly imposes the scale, the consciousness of historicity and History coexist, but are not defined. With Reality itself at stake.

Almost a year and a half after the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the planet is still mired in uncharted waters with scientists saying we are still at the beginning of a new ambivalent normality. The feeling of fear and its continuous territory as a cutting edge landscape in the human psyche tests the concept of the individual, self-determination and freedom and is tested as an incomplete response to the paradox of social disconnection and the dissolution of all landmarks.

Climate change, the imprint of barren and bellicose political choices and interventions, is perhaps the main cause that opens the door to new pathogens and distortions and that science is called, under the pressure of necessity, in unsuspecting time to map and discover. In the afterlife of anthropocentric civilization, the rupture between nature and technological progress seems inevitable.

"Hear hear the bora from the flesh of victors and vanquished"

We are already in the eye of the storm 

In the past weeks, India, a deeply weak country with a problem of resources and infrastructure, was faced with an incredible humanitarian crisis due to the pandemic, registering a huge number of deaths and cases on a daily basis. Given that the country is the world's largest supplier of vaccines and medicines, as well as an exporter of doctors and nursing staff, mainly to the US, but also to other countries, India's "collapse" could practically put a brake on progress to contain it. spread of the pandemic and threaten the health and economic recovery of all countries, due to critical shortages in medical and pharmaceutical goods. The fact that the mutated Indian virus is already detected in Nepal, Vietnam, the USA, Australia and 20 other countries is also worrying. Here it is important to point out that in a world structured by rhetorical gimmicks, COVID-19 exercises negative politics, given that only 0.3% of the Global vaccine movement is available for the lowest income countries. 

The inequality of this term, in favor of advanced countries, in addition to the risks it adopts, added to other "inferior" political movements during the pandemic, contributes to the downfall of the prestige of intellect, science and political culture.

For this modern Babel of COVID-19, where no truth has a front, we talk to three distinguished Indian Citizens of Letters and Politics, Mr. Harish Awasthi, Mr. Anoop Bhargava and Dr. Deepti Gupta, whose resumes are listed at the end of the interview.

I sincerely thank them for the honor and trust!

 

In January of this year as the second wave of COVID-19 swept through Europe and America, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Economic Forum that his country, home to 18% of the world's population, saved humanity by effectively limiting the spread of the virus. In recent weeks the whole planet has been watching in amazement the incredible tragedy unfolding in India. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has turned the country into a vast crematorium. What do you think was at fault, what oversights, what shortcomings and omissions, what lapse in strategy brought the country to this position and what role, if any, did the large election rallies, the ongoing farmers' strike, the religious holidays and where is it located in really the semiotic root of this disaster?

Harish Awasthi: The second wave of COVID-19 in India should not be seen as an emergency or a natural disaster. It is virtually in the full range of consequences of "homicide" due to the central government's lack of strategic planning and its inability to set aside its party politics, as well as its persistent refusal to engage with the states and understand their concerns and needs their.                                       

India is a dynamic multi-complex democracy where cultures change by the miles and the need to meet the diverse demands of the states and formulate a comprehensive unifying central policy is imperative. I will justify the term "homicide" by saying that despite the warnings of experts and pundits about the multiple mutations and increase in cases the Modi government has helped worsen the situation. Not only did he not impose restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, despite warnings, but millions attended the Hindu festivals he allowed and election rallies organized by Modi himself, with the Bengal rally at the top. An estimated 700 public school teachers dead among thousands more and 2.000 teachers in Bengal tested positive for COVID-19 after the election. Of course, the partisan line of this government was also evident in other previous actions such as maintaining the tension with Muslims that almost amounts to demonization, the Kashmir issues and its ten months of inaction during the first lockdown which did not exploit it as a useful tool of preparing for infrastructure construction with existing resources for health investments, but he did not care despite the recommendations of experts and experts. Today the death toll is much higher than it sounds and I don't think there will ever be clarity as to the relative number. Crematoria operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the lack of resources for citizens to bury or burn their dead has reached nightmarish proportions.

 

Individual responsibility (the dead have dirty hands) is the term used by global political power in the midst of a pandemic in order to shift, shift, silence or reverse its own responsibilities. On the other hand, the instrumentalization of a large part of the press (sign of the times) as a government crutch makes things difficult, as the Truths about the Pandemic as given with the "oka" are getting smaller and smaller. For example, non-existent health infrastructure remains non-existent even as a problem. And this is not a sad privilege of your own country alone. The events in India as they are developing show that your government was not properly prepared for the second wave of the pandemic and the questions are unsecured in the images that flood the televisions. In this inhospitable moment "on the wounds and the limits" I have the feeling that democracy in your country is in direct dialogue with its self-cancellation. Tell me about everyday life there under these conditions.

Harish Awasthi: Right now "on the edge" as you say, the arrogance of the central government is the cause that has driven the Pandemic to these proportions. The Indian Council of Medical Research and the Indian Institute of Medical Studies warned early on what could go wrong with multiple mutations and the need to be prepared to deal with the second wave. What could have gone smoothly was elevated to a whole new dimension and turned into carnage, due to the lack of central policy planning. Therefore, "bloodshed" weighs heavily on the rulers. To be clear, I will go back in time and remind you that the Bengal famine of 1943 which led to the death of 4 million Indians was the result of the British 'scorched earth' tactics in the face of their impending defeat by the unarmed Indians and their departure from the country. Churchill has been criticized by many, including Nobel laureate economist AmartyaSen, for his reaction when calls for help reached the British government. "Famine and drought the Indians will be fertilized like rabbits" he said and even more cynically he added that "If the situation is so bad, how come Mahatma Gandhi has not died yet?". Now something similar happened. The Modi government in the middle of the pandemic implemented policies fit for war, ie a combination of profiteering inflation, authoritarianism and panic which drove the poorest people into destitution and all that it entails. And as usual, the government today puts the blame on the state governments, on the citizens who move from their homes, on the marginalized, on the Muslims and so on, keeping silent about its own actions. For the timing of elections and festivals, he pursued policies that led to mass killings, which history must record.

 

The Country is already involved in an unequal and multifaceted fight against the Pandemic. The proud Indian people are caught between the oligarchy of their politicians and the promises of help from foreign leaders, whose credibility is often in doubt. Do you think the offers of vaccines, oxygen and other goods will solve the problem or are they just buying time? The image of mass cremation that burns our eyes and the image of the Ganges that has turned into a graveyard without a channel, could perhaps become the beginning of a joint strategic plan of all leaders to effectively deal with COVID-19 with a focus on not of course the profit of the companies involved, but the man himself as a singularity. Do you think we still have enough insight to learn from this tragedy, or is the famous leap of scientific and technological progress in danger of liquidating as loot in the hands of the few and powerful, which will mathematically lead us to what vast deserts?

Harish Awasthi: The issue of technological progress without humans at the center is a very big issue. Vaccines are an important achievement, but in my country a huge mistake was made. Instead of the government designing a single central policy for the
purchase and distribution of vaccines recommended that states purchase vaccines directly from the open market. Open market does not suit a country like India nor does it make any sense since the GDP of the states is different and few states have
the ability to do so. This means that the poorest and most isolated states that have already gone through the worst of the Pandemic will be the last to be vaccinated (of course, on the condition that the pharmaceutical companies agree to supply them). Yes, foreign aid just buys time. As for the hundreds of dead bodies washing up on the banks of the Yamuna and Ganga rivers, the government has not deployed police officers to guard the rivers to stop this suspicious and alarming phenomenon. On the other hand, thousands of dead people are cremated in the crematoria, without the possibility of an autopsy and for practical reasons. Therefore one cannot safely conclude whether these are deaths from COVID-19 or not. What is happening probably also hides some of the organized killings between religious communities based on caste
and that COVID-19 is simply the cover under which heinous activities take place. 

 

Today, India, a country with a long history, is shaken more than any other country by the devastating consequences of COVID-19. Images of cremation convey more than they suggest. Do you think that your country, given its huge population, the different political, social and religious views and of course the economic inequality, could lock down a second time for a long time, since the risk of losing lives from starvation is also visible? What do you consider to be the preventive measures that could act as a safety valve for the economically weaker citizens away from the mechanisms of conflict?

Anoop Bhargava: The Pandemic has affected our people in many different ways, but it has hurt the poor the most, those who cannot afford to work from home. Millions of people
they even lost their livelihood during the first lockdown. Government of India should help and stand by these people. This help can be in the form of free rations and also be monetary as done
here in the United States. I agree that the Indian government is struggling to cope because they don't have the resources available, but this can be addressed by increasing the taxation of the rich citizens. We live in extraordinary times and the need to take extraordinary measures is imperative.

 

There are many unanswered questions about the Pandemic that have either not been adequately analyzed by the scientific community or are involved in the closed system of each government's responsibilities and therefore have been ignored. In any case, the country is plagued by a humanitarian crisis. Given the sudden rupture of all concepts, Solidarity remains the ultimate language. Do you think a group of health professionals from around the world could be formed to break the country out of the vicious circle? Are your prime minister and foreign leaders capable of creating a decisive united front to deal with the crisis, or will they open the floodgates to the blackmail of the past, in the sense that the mutant virus travels
and dozens of countries might be tested to their limits?

Anoop Bhargava: We have to realize that the problem India is facing right now is not only India's problem. Sooner or later the mutated form of the virus will reach all countries if it is not controlled now immediately and effectively. It is a problem of all countries and must be addressed globally. Many efforts are already being made by Indians living abroad to mobilize people and raise funds to help their homeland. I am a member of many such groups. People in India have also realized that they cannot depend on the government alone and have started forming their own support groups and this is very encouraging. The Indian government must also address the logistical problems immediately and create an efficient system to make healthcare easily accessible to all so that no more lives are lost.

 

Among the thousands of problems plaguing your country is the lost one wound that incorporates everything in everything is that of orphaned children who they lost their parents to the Pandemic and suddenly found themselves in a world
that ends or we end him, it matters little. Do you know if there is a specific prevention and care unit, some shield of protection capable of composing a present less ominous for these children;

Anoop Bhargava: Living far away from India (New York), I still have no information if there is any special prevention unit directly formed by the Government of India to take care of these children who have been orphaned and
unprotected by the Pandemic, but there is certainly an urgent need to do so. The problem is top notch. I know of some non-governmental organizations that are working in this direction and this is very promising.

 

(At the time of writing the Narendra Modi government announced her intention of paying pensions to these children and providing free their education until the age of 25).

What do you think was responsible for the humanitarian crisis in your country during the second wave of the pandemic. The people there "left" under deplorable conditions and without medical help. The international press notes that the country's prime minister, busy with his political career, did not even bother to express sympathy for the victims. A huge failure, since the role of the "private vision" in politics cancels its power and is composed by the sedimentation of its meaning. Indeed, how does indifference register and register and how does its irrational power? Who ultimately bears the brunt of this seemingly fatal crisis, if not Modi himself?

Deepti Gupta: No doubt the situation is grim in India with unprecedented daily death tolls and a critical shortage of oxygen and ventilators. This is because the Health Care facilities that were created to prepare for the first wave of the pandemic were closed prematurely. For example, the largest hospital Defense Research Development Organization built last year in a record time of 12 days, with the help of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense of the country, closed in the first week of February. The second most severe wave coincided with the start of vaccinations creating absolute chaos and the hospital did not reopen until April 18. This means that India did not prepare and did not learn anything from the experience of other states like USA, Brazil and elsewhere. Our honorable prime minister could have prevented or reduced this pathetic crisis which cost so many lives. I accept the criticism of my government that the primary responsibility rests with the Prime Minister of the country, but now we will have to look closely at what went wrong and where.

 

While in other countries the cases have decreased significantly, in India the course of the pandemic remains on the rise. The news that there is not even wood for the cremations is shocking and written as slander. The other day the Health Minister of your government, defending his own house, blamed the state governments saying that they are responsible for the lack of oxygen supply due to poor assessment and poor distribution. Prefaces to disarm impressions? since it is known that the Central government is responsible for the required medical arrangements. There are many questions that circle the developments and require a solid ground of answers. You, Dr Gupta, in the context of the tangible reality of this which vibrates the signs of thousands of dead, do you believe that there is room and a way for the country to quickly recover, given that the delay in the vaccination program also acts as a powerful undermining trap?

Deepti Gupta:It is true, as I have already said, that the country is sinking due to lack of oxygen. The government has now diverted all industrial oxygen to medical use and has tendered to import liquid oxygen. Several major cities are issuing an SOS, hospitals are running out, and states with a surplus are supplying other states. The situation became more frightening because due to the panic of the virus, essential life-saving services for other diseases like asthma, cardiac, cancer cases were stopped and caused deaths. Undoubtedly, if the governors and health providers had prepared for all types of anticipated difficulties, countless deaths would have been avoided. It is very significant that despite the huge lack of special facilities in the country, many states rushed to provide help in the form of oxygen and ventilators such as the United States, Russia, Cuba, France, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Germany and many others. The aid was received by State Department officials in the last week of April. So let's say something hopeful. Now the government has gone ahead to install oxygen unit in AIIMS and this is a good step. 

 

Do you consider the decision to hold elections and the permission to hold religious events in the middle of the pandemic to be inappropriate and frivolous, encouraged by the prime minister himself? I use the word "encouragement" because Narendra Modi appeared at political rallies and expressed his excitement about the crowds that gathered but unfortunately he did not see the death tolls that were piling up due to COVId-19, as he did not see before and the economic collapse as a result of the first prolonged lockdown that led thousands of people to despair and starvation.

Deepti Gupta: Of course elections and religious events could have been stopped. The longer there was a delay in making urgent decisions, the higher the number of deaths. Perhaps the Prime Minister did not understand the gruesome footprint of the pandemic, because otherwise he should have considered increasing the availability of health services in both resources and personnel. It's a shame that he didn't build on the intensity of the new deadly wave and stayed busy with politics. Well, it's never too late. I would also like to talk about the good side of our government. He is currently trying to push forward some more citizen-friendly guidelines, but also to allocate military as well as central government resources, to reduce the pandemic. The military can provide oxygen, medical equipment, medical personnel, ambulances and set up hospitals. It is also significant that this month two new oxygen supply facilities were created, since it was frightening that until now people died due to lack of oxygen. On my part, as a thinking common citizen of India, I would like to make suggestions. The government could have tapped volunteers and mobilized Red Cross communities in various states to provide safe care both in homes and in hospitals. I am sure this would reduce the burden on health professionals. Also, health services should focus on providing effective life-saving care, which requires proper triage and oxygen delivery. Last but not least, the power of prayer is an essential weapon that gives us hope and strength in all difficulties, such as the one we are facing now with the unknown and mysterious virus.

 

 

Anoop Bhargava studied chemical engineering at BITS Pilani and went on to do his masters in Systems and Management at ITT, Delhi. A well-known poet, he represented his country many times in cultural poetry festivals around the world. He was the Editor-in-Chief of Hindi Magazine, as he is a key representative of the Hindi language, about which he has spoken at many international conferences. In 2015, he was honored with the "Vishwa Hindi Samman" award, the highest honor given to him by the Government of India itself for his contribution to the promotion and dissemination of Hindi, while the award was inaugurated by Prime Minister NarendraModi. A connoisseur of technology, he is the founder of the yahoo group “eKavita” which after 17 years remains one of the most active poetry promotion groups. He is also an awardee of “HindiVideshPrasarSamman” for promoting India abroad. He lives and works in New York.

Harish Awasthi studied Public Administration at Delhi University and continued his studies at Nainital Campus. He is a social activist, orator and writer and is active in RTI (Right to Information). He is a political spokesperson of the Aam Aadmi Party and former Municipal Councilor in the city of Delhi.

Dr. Deepti Gupta is an acclaimed Indian University Professor and author who has been honored with the “Great Global Woman, 2021) award from the Socio-Literary Foundation, UP and the Ranindranath Tagore Award (2020) from the Government of India, while she still has 17 national and 3 international awards. Her poems and short stories form part of the curriculum in many Indian and foreign Universities, she has written a total of 20 books, her poems have been translated into many foreign languages ​​and she is the translator of the Anthology 'East & West Poetic Blending' which hosts 60 poets from worldwide, in Hindi and English. As a professor she worked in the Hindi department of three leading Indian Universities, while in 1989 the president of India conferred on her the post of "Educational Adviser" in the Education Department of the Ministry of Human Resource & Development in New Delhi for a period of 3 years. 

 

 

 

photo https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ 

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