BADRI RAINA | 16 MAY, 2021
Wood for pyres has run out
News comes that Covid-stricken bodies are now being dumped into the Ganges at the border between Ghazipur and Buxar(https://indianexpress.com/article/india/nearly-100-bodies-found-floating-in-ganga-spark-panic-in-bihar-up-7311518/).
Wood for pyres has run out.
Close to four hundred districts in India now have a positivity rate of twenty percent or more.
All that amid stories of traumatizing agony as the health care system is simply unable to cope with the scale of the catastrophe, even as incredibly dedicated and selfless doctors, nurses and other medical staff put their lives on the line case after harrowing case, while some also seek to make a quick buck from the shortages of materials needed to keep patients breathing.
If the world is anxious about the situation in India, it is not from any malicious instinct to run the country or its government down.
One in every six world citizens is an Indian, and everybody who does not wear nationalist blinkers understands what calamities can be in the offing if the virus in India is not contained, and the apocalyptic situation reversed.
Authorised representatives of the Congress party have written letters to presiding officers of the two houses of parliament suggesting that the Houses be called to session, even if virtually, so that all heads may be put together to answer the call of the moment.
Admirably, The Indian Express, never a friend of the Congress party, has risen editorially to endorse the suggestion, and remarked that it would be well for the government of the day to “listen and learn, correct mistakes, to find a way forward.” The newspaper regrets that the critical comments by the Congress Working Committee have been so callously received by the President of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, in the same vein as the response from the the honorable Health Minister to suggestions from the former Prime Minister of India.
Paradoxically, India’s “nationalist” government remains allergic to including the totality of the democratic nation in meeting the pandemic. If I may permit myself to quote just one verse from a recent ghazal of mine:
Vaba aati hai, jaati hai,
Tanqeed mustaqil beemari hai.
Pandemics come and go,
Criticism is the lasting pandemic.
Unfortunately, a Trumpean frame of ideology suffuses the Indian Executive: listen only to the loyalists, not to the busy-body opposition voices who only mean to defame the government, and, inter alia, the nation which ostensibly only the government represents.
Yet, look at how under the new Biden Presidency bi-partisan solutions are constantly sought to be reached to frame policies in the best interests of all Americans.This is also what most European democracies are doing, since the pandemic makes no discrimination between the rulers and the rest.
It is regrettable, therefore, that the Indian government would much rather risk an exponential spread of a third wave, as speculated by its own medical advisers and officers, than reach out for every possible suggestion and advise from within and outside Parliament. And rid itself of this defensive anxiety about being found wanting thus far.
The government could also recognise that even the media channels that had been supporting it so far have had to accept the reality of the hour and jettison that loyalty.
The advantage, cannily, of conversing with the political opposition is to make them responsible too in what results may ensue from their deliberations.
Surely, victory in the next electoral battle, wherever and whenever, cannot, and ought not to, take precedence over retrieving the country from the brink of a terminal disaster, if indeed we are not already there.
Cover Photograph PTI