‘You need knowledge in order to become citizens in the fullest sense and speak truth to the
power’, postulated Ravish Kumar, journalist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee in his book The Free Voice: On Democracy, Media And Culture (2018) indispensably focusing to act as an eye opener to the nation. Today, every digital platform be it Instagram, Facebook or Twitter has become a source to share and circulate information related to ICU beds, oxygen cylinders, free medical consultation by the doctors and a ray of hope that the citizens are praying for to come out of this detrimental situation. According to this report by The Hindu, India reported more than 3 lakh COVID-19 cases in a single day on April 21. No country has recorded more cases in a single day.
Elections are more important than lives?
While the ruling government is occupied spending money on banners, posters, rallies and other election expenses to be carried, an individual on the other hand is struggling for the lives of their loved ones outside the hospital. The conditions are so bad that if one doesn’t hear about the admitted patient for the next 2-3 days, they are sent back home with a declaration that your dear one is no more.
The central government has all the power to regulate the supply of oxygen cylinders, carrying out vaccination drives, funding for the healthcare infrastructure, etc. In April 2020 the government had announced to allocate 15,000 crore for the health sector, however even after this amount people are on the streets pleading for help due to non availability of beds and poor healthcare management.
PM Modi could have stepped up
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a huge crowd during his Bengal rally, as apparently carrying out campaigns and winning elections could be seen as the priority and top most motive of the government. He addressed people by praising them and appreciating them for coming, while not a single person had their mask on and neither of them maintained social distancing; this wasn’t a substantial matter of concern at all. History, however, will remember how an important figure of this country was holding rallies when India reported 2,73,810 new cases adding on to the active cases to upto 19 lakhs on the same day.
The key problem with our political governance is about negligence towards expert advice. During the 2020 migrant workers crisis, renowned economist Abijit Banerjee emphasised on direct transfer of money or cash in the accounts of people for being severely affected as several lost their jobs, walked back home without transportation, food, water and many lost their loved ones on their way due to scorching heat or on railway tracks and even due to starvation. Yet, the ruling government hadn’t planned out concrete solutions for its own people. PM CARES fund had an amount of 3,076 crore in the initial days, the huge amount however, could be seen nowhere in use. It wasn’t clear if the money was being used to conduct more testings, or to provide food and shelter or anything that would be beneficial for the poor and the marginalised sections of the society. The fund is also not audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.
The ECI’s responsibility
The guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India stated the gathering of approximately 500 people, although lack of allocation of association officials to take a check on this number along with why to even allow such a huge gathering during the second wave of coronavirus pandemic concludes the incompetent and poorly executed plan of the commission. People turn over to the EC for its regard towards honesty and rational mindset, but it failed in doing its duty.
State assemblies are held in several phases, however the Bengal Assembly elections were the longest one, conducted in 8 phases without citing proper reasoning for such long polling. Appropriate measure could have been taken to wrap up other phases together after the spike in cases. People started testing positive but the rules and regulations remained intact.
According to a Reuters report, India gifted 10 million vaccines to other countries and exported 54.6 million vaccines abroad generating a huge income. The government decided to roll out vaccines to other countries rather than giving it for free to its own people. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had promised during the Bihar elections to give free vaccines to the people if they come in power. Well, the Bharatiya Janata Party did win the elections, but the vaccination drive is nowhere to be seen.
What could’ve been done?
In the month of December, India had millions of doses of vaccines yet the government didn’t start the vaccination drive nor the allocation of funds to Serum Institute of India. The campaigns and political rallies for winning elections took over the lives of people who cast their votes for those in power.
According to a ground report by Shahbaz Ansari from Scoopwhoop Unscripted, every hospital in Delhi was running out of beds, oxygen cylinders and important medicines. The collapse of the healthcare system exposed the impecunious governance and mismanagement of the entire system.
Contributing to pass on information related to oxygen cylinders, beds, possible plasma donors and donating as much as possible in the name of humanity, is our way of getting through it.But one thing we as citizens of this country should never forget – how the government was indulged in its political carousel when people were dying outside.
Featured Image Source: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui