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Narendra Modi turned COVID-19 into a disaster for India




On May 19, India set an unenviable world record, having reported 4,500 deaths from COVID-19 in the last twenty-four hours. The death toll in the country is now approaching 350,000. The Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation predicted that figure will reach one million in August.

A looming public health crisis already seemed likely in the early months of 2020, when experts listed India as a country at high risk for the spread of COVID-19 beyond China. Many people expected he would collapse public health system would not be able to cope with a serious virus outbreak.

It seemed that India had avoided the worst-case scenario. In March of this year, the Union Health Minister declared that the country was at the end of the epidemic. He boasted that India was well prepared for a nationwide vaccination campaign and also had provided vaccines in seventeen low- and middle-income countries.

A month later, the country faced a shortage of vaccines, medical oxygen and hospital beds. the Lancet critical Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ignoring warning signs of a second wave and for his catastrophic mismanagement of a national public health crisis.

A pandemic is rarely a simple public health concern: it is also a question of Politics. Modi’s actions dramatically worsened the trajectory of India’s pandemic. The leader of India treated it as an opportunity to consolidate his cult of personality after major political failures. The results have been disastrous.

Access to health care or their absence depends on the extent to which health care services are affordable, of acceptable quality and physically accessible. Indian constitution guarantees access to health care for all citizens. However, an institutionally weak and resource-strapped public health system has caused India to private health sector is responsible for the majority of inpatient and outpatient care.

The largely unregulated private sector is unreliable in terms of the quality of services. In addition, expensive out-of-pocket payments push vulnerable sections of the mostly uninsured population further into poverty. Just as the richest 10 percent of India’s population own 77 percent of the nation’s wealth, similar levels of inequality govern access to an acceptable level of health care during the pandemic.

As you might expect, both public and private hospitals lack of beds very quickly during the second wave of the pandemic in congested urban centers of India, where social distancing and sanitation are the preserve of the privileged few. Without a centralized coordination system, oxygen producers in the east of the country have struggled to match the medical oxygen requirements from the most affected regions of northern and western India. This led to the heartbreaking scenes of dying patients, often at the gates of hospitals that were not equipped to cope with the influx.

Of course, the poorest inhabitants of Indian cities are the most affected. They are the most at risk of contracting the virus and the least able to pay for necessary medical care. In rural India, the majority of the population also lacks access to adequate health services, and the spread of the pandemic has subsided uncontrolled and underreported.

A public health crisis was therefore quite foreseeable, but the government of the Modis Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party did not approach the pandemic from this angle. He was primarily concerned with containing any potential challenges to the leadership of Modis, who was already reeling from a series of political failures.

At the onset of the pandemic, Modis’ credentials as prime minister who can preside over economic growth and development free of corruption and beneficial to the the ordinary citizen seemed to be involved. India knew the worst economic recession in three decades.

Modis’ flagship economic initiative had produced mixed results. The demonetization of the five hundred thousand rupee banknotes was supposed to curb the circulation of counterfeit banknotes, black money and terrorist financing. But governments Implementation politics was hit and miss. In the short term, this has translated into a severe cash shortage, increased unemployment and a significant drop in income and economic activity.

As the pandemic unfolded, the economic policies of the Modi government came under close scrutiny again when it passed new farm laws in September 2020. The laws open up the farming industry to major players in the company and leave small farmers exposed to market forces. Six state governments voted against the new federal bills. There has been a nationwide strike and farmers from neighboring states have regularly marched in New Delhi since November last year to demonstration the new laws.

Modis’ tenure has also been marked by religious strife as he seeks to bolster his Hindu nationalist credentials. We have seen an increase in anti-muslim violence, government policies slowing down the cattle slaughter, the An Act to amend the Citizenship Act of 2019 which limits the access of Muslims to citizenship, as well as the revocation of Kashmiri special status in the constitution. The government has severely cracked down on opposition to these measures, particularly in the Kashmir Valley, where it to close Internet, cell phones, landlines and cable TV for days.

With little political success to speak of, Modi has made sustained efforts to develop his public image during the pandemic. He declared on March 22, 2020 to be a popular curfew, encouraging citizens to knock pots and pans at 5 p.m. that day to support frontline healthcare workers. On April 9 of last year, he called on citizens to light candles and lamps at 9 p.m. for nine minutes in solidarity against the pandemic. These campaigns had little effect on the outbreak, but they received broad support from prominent public figures on social media, many hailing Modis’ leadership in times of crisis.

When Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown with four hours’ notice, he was given a devastating impact on the vulnerable population of urban and rural areas. The BJP boasted that containment received a score of 100 on the Rigor index, citing this as proof of the effectiveness of Modis’ crisis management. However, this austerity measure had very little to do with the effectiveness of policies against the spread of the virus.

Modi and his allies have described the fight against the pandemic as a personal struggle for the Indian leader. When his government installation Prime Ministers Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund in March 2020, many people wondered about the logic behind it. After all, there was still money left over in the long-established National First Ministers’ Relief Fund. But an obvious advantage of the new fund was that its title could be abbreviated as PM CARES, symbolizing Modis’ direct involvement. It was also a way for pro-Modi corporate donors to channel funds they had already allocated to corporate social responsibility, or CSR.

The BJP presented the current vaccination campaign as a personal victory for Modi. Unlike other countries, where the vaccination certificates bear the logo of the national health and disease control authorities, the Indian certificates have an image of the Prime Minister with the message Together India will defeat COVID-19.

Many observers have attributed the recent peak to the Kumbh Mela, a religious gathering held in Haridwar in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which saw millions of people gather on the banks of the Ganges. Carried out without any precaution, it could well have been the largest in the world super-spreader Event. Allowing the festival to take place was a political decision in a state run by the BJP: it was to show that India was now in the final stages of the pandemic.

Against the advice from public health officials, legislative elections were also held in several states in March and April. Large electoral rallies and long voting lines resulted in an immediate wave of infections. In West Bengal, where the BJP was eager to overthrow Trinamool’s ruling Congressional government (TMC), Modi flooded the state with resources from the ruling party. While the BJP ultimately lost the West Bengal contest, party rallies contributed to the highest number of infections in the state.

Modi and his Hindu nationalist government have also been criticized globally. Many see his handling of the second wave as a serious failure of leadership and forethought. But the BJP was even more concerned about censorship critic on social media platforms than to tackle the ongoing public health crisis.

The enormous human cost of the pandemic was painfully evident when hundreds of body stranded on the banks of the Ganges. As this tragedy unfolded, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested four TMC leaders on May 17 in Calcutta as part of a high profile corruption case.

The timing of the arrests led many to suspect that Modi was deploying federal institutions against BJP rivals. TMC frames protested in breach of containment and attacked the local CBI offices.

At present, Modi is also pursuing the Central Vista Project, a $ 2.8 billion redevelopment plan intended to reorganize the central administrative area of ​​the nation’s capital. His government has responded to criticism of affirming that the project will ensure the country’s preparation in terms of progressive infrastructure and public equipment.

While the Modis administration invoked the Essential Services Act to allow laborers to work on the project in New Delhi, it previously neglected to do so in order to securing medical oxygen supplies during a shortage. It is once again evident that the pandemic in India is a public health crisis which is also inseparable from the country’s political struggles.

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