COMMENTARY

The Single Most Important Lesson from India’s Second COVID Wave

A political, economic, and health crisis- all in one package

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Perhaps the saddest thing to hear in a global pandemic is the death of someone you know. It only becomes personal when it’s someone you know. In the absence of the knowledge of the deceased, the dear ones we have been losing since the end of 2019 just become statistics. Numbers that future generations will read about in history textbooks.

The crisis that is the COVID-19 global pandemic has been dealt with by many countries, but it has been rather overwhelming for some other countries. The mainstream media has captured the experience of this new virus in the US, UK, Europe, India, the Middle East (primarily the UAE and specifically Dubai when they wanted to shame someone for going out and having parties, completely ignoring the Americans who refused to wear a mask to go to Walmart), and have largely ignored the experience of places like Yemen. To be fair, these places have gone uncovered in the media for a long time anyway and a global pandemic wasn’t going to change that.

But perhaps the most shocking revelation that mainstream media is speaking about is the disaster that is India’s second wave. Several regions went through a second wave. The UAE had its second wave after Christmas of 2020 when UK tourists flocked to the Middle East and instead of the rain, brought with them the new strain of the virus. The UK and South Africa had their second wave and scared the shit out of everyone. The US never truly got over its first wave what with rowdy Americans not wanting to wear masks because the amount of dumb-fuckery that goes on in that country is beyond everything. While these regions were succumbing to the second wave, India was making apparent strides in the area of recovering from the pandemic. Numbers had reached an all-time low, weddings came back into action, restaurants opened up again, masks came off, election rallies came back into full swing, protesting farmers kept protesting, and day-time television was back on. Everything seemed normal. The world was left quizzical at how India had made herd immunity a reality, and should they be taking notes.

Then almost within weeks, the second wave hit the country and it hit hard. Upto 300,000 new cases every day (at the time of writing) became the norm. People are struggling to find oxygen to keep their loved ones alive, people are sharing posts on social media about someone they know who knows someone who is literally dying and can anyone help. There are horror stories of people succumbing to death soon after running out of oxygen. A shadow economy of healthcare supplies has come to occupy a place in the modern world, reminiscent of Soviet Russia in the 1980s. And nothing should bring back Soviet Russia in the 1980s. I wasn’t there, but my Master’s dissertation was about Soviet Russia, so I am making an educated statement here.

All this, literally weeks after wedding parties, engagement parties, reception parties, people abandoning their masks, election rallies, Hindu pilgrimages where people behaved as if COVID had never happened. All of this has left people in a rather constant state of ‘what the fuck just happened?’ Mistakes have been made and hopefully lessons have been learnt. If not multiple lessons, at least people can keep one of them in mind. When you live in a democracy, don’t shy away from using your democratic weapon. A vote for the right candidate or right political wing can literally change your life.

You live in a democracy, use your democratic weapon

India is led by an uneducated, Hindu-nationalist, genocide-promoting, self-interested dumbfuck- there are absolutely no questions about that. That he was best friends with Donald Trump, the idiot who wanted to build a wall between the US and Mexico, should have been a hint to let nearly 2 billion Indians in on the secret that Modi G is not fit to lead. You do not make deals with existing millionaires to rob innocent farmers of their daily wage. You do not ask your people to bang dishes and clap for nine minutes, expecting the vibrations from the clapping to kill a virus (how were more scientists not left dumbfounded?). You do not export your vaccine to other countries and leave your own people to die. You do not hide away when hundreds of thousands of your people are being cremated on the street because crematoriums are full. You do not run election rallies in the middle of a pandemic, putting yourself and everyone around you at risk of catching and spreading a virus known for its fatal nature.

It is a political crisis unlike any other. When David Cameron stepped down after the EU referendum in the UK, there was a second-in-command who could step up and take the lead. Of course, Theresa May stepped down as well, and back then that was a leadership crisis unlike any other, but when that happened, Boris Johnson stepped up as well (‘stepping up’ might make him sound more valiant than he was, but you get my point). When Modi G’s government came into power, it wasn’t because he was an especially outstanding character. It was because he was the lesser of two evils. There was no Theresa May or Boris Johnson to turn to. He was to India what Hitler was to the Weimar Republic. Hitler would go on to massacre Jews, but Modi already had the blood of so many Muslims on his hands, he should never have been given clearance to even be part of the election. India is literally the only country that thinks it’s okay to have criminals turn into politicians. And now, Modi can also claim responsibility for the deaths of so many people from COVID.

Why do I say Modi G’s government is single-handedly responsible? A sub-par vaccination drive (if you’re going to be involved in the research and production of a vaccine, you’d better ensure your people get access to it before exporting it out), letting a shadow economy of medical supplies run at a time of crippling shortage, and a lack of basic guidelines for gatherings- to name a few. Apparently, when Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition, decided to take a step back from campaigning out in the open, a daoucheface from the incumbent party claimed that this was Gandhi’s way of accepting defeat. NO, YOU DICKWAD!

This is another instance bringing to light the fact that India’s democratic foundation is inherently flawed. A country that accepts a murderer’s candidature for leader of the government cannot possibly be trusted to get the citizens what they want. The year 2021 so far has shown to the Indian public that Modi’s government will do all it can to rob its people of their money and their lives. First, the farmers through farm laws that make the rich richer. Now, people who are struggling to survive amidst a health crisis against the backdrop of a shadow economy.

So the single most important lesson here is to use your vote for the right candidate. Do your research. Politicians are all dickwads anyway but surely voting for the lesser of the two evils shouldn’t be difficult. Why even lesser of the two evils? Be rebellious, vote Green.

Also, while we’re talking about lessons, maybe re-evaluate whether or not weddings fall under essential gatherings. The UAE allows for weddings with upto 10 people in the party, but I was told by family in India that the rule was upto 800 people, which in effect means no rule. There was no social distancing either. Let’s face it, people are dumb. Most people anyway. If you ask us nicely to do something, we’ll do it but we’ll slowly forget about it. Why does social distancing work in the UAE? Because it’s enforced by the law. There is a 3000 AED fine if you don’t wear a mask. Why? Because the government wants people to live and not have its healthcare sector crumble to pieces. Yes, cases continue, but lives have nearly returned to normal. The new normal is the old normal with a mask on and less people around you. And I like it that way. It means I don’t have to be surrounded by people and I don’t have to wear lipstick.

The way the Indian government has historically fuctioned, it doesn’t necessarily care whether people live or die so maybe people need to take care of themselves. They need to educate themselves on masks and social distancing and such and do the right thing and not be an idiot, going into weddings with 800 people. ‘God helps those who help themselves’- so help yourself and don’t go to pilgrimages where social distancing is impossible to maintain, and God will help you too. Yes, India has a large population and if you tried to maintain social distancing you’d need more land. But here’s a solution- stay in your bloody home.

Rant over, thank you.

Musings of a 20-something old in this big scary world. I use humour as a coping mechanism and it shows.