The second wave of Covid-19 is sweeping the country and it has turned fatal for India. At the moment, things are terribly out of control. Forget about providing medical assistance to the needy, the dead bodies are piling up and delayed for cremation.

New grounds are being cleared for it. All over the country, the hospitals are a harrowing scene. They are running out of beds, medicines, oxygen, doctors and nurses. The situation is turning worse with every passing day. The government of India has failed its people.

A candid admission of its failure by the government would have assuaged some feelings of the suffering people. But, no, the government is not doing that. Instead, it is trying to control the flow of information. The government is even funnily trying to rein in international media. Here we should note the caution expressed by Dattatreya Hosbale, RSS general secretary.

“…destructive and anti-Bharat forces may exploit the situation to create an atmosphere of negativity and mistrust,” Hosbale said.

He has also asked people to be more restrained and patient. Very good, the people should not complain against the failure of the government and spread the feelings of negativity.

The RSS functionary thinks asking the government to do its duties and criticizing it for its failure is helping the anti- Bharat activities. What an argument! To him, there is no difference between the government and Bharat. What a dangerous narrative! A conscientious person has to stand for the people of the country. They cannot and should not stand for the government when the government is not doing the right thing.

But how has the situation turned so bad?  Has it happened overnight? No. Had the government got its priorities right and its policy in place and acted in time, the situation could have been salvaged to a great extent.

Unfortunately, the government has been doing everything wrong from the beginning.  First, when, the cases of virus-affected people were reported abroad, it didn’t take the virus seriously, though experts cautioned them time and again. The opposition leader Rahul Gandhi rightly cautioned the government at the time. But when the virus reached India and was surging ahead, a national lockdown was declared in five hours’ notice causing severe hardship to people, particularly to lakhs of migrant workers.

From the beginning till now, if we enumerate various comments of the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues on the Covid-19, it would be clear that the government’s attitude towards the pandemic was always cavalier.

No wonder that they have failed to manage the pandemic so miserably now. Another thing is that this pandemic has also exposed the vulnerability of the public health system in our country. For this, of course, earlier governments are also responsible to an extent.

Experts have been saying that the two most important things in containing the virus are testing and vaccination. But, in our country very small portion of the population has been tested so far.  Who knows how many people are still roaming around with the virus?

The second thing is the vaccination. The government also admitted that till the time a vaccine was produced we should maintain extra vigil.  But why didn’t they take any urgent measures in accelerating the process of vaccine making in India and acquiring the vaccines for its people?

It is on record that while all other countries in the world were advancing huge amount of money to the vaccine manufacturing companies, the government of India did no such thing. The Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech were working on the vaccine. But till 19 April 2021 government of India didn’t advance any money to them.

Again when there is a great dearth of vaccines in India, the Central government has already exported around six cores of vaccines to 70 countries. What a ham-handed thing to do!

It all comes to that, first, there was no preparedness on the part of the government to contain the second wave of the virus, and secondly, the ruling BJP and other political parties made a mesh of it by organizing the mega election rallies.

On top of it, the government allowed the Kumbhmela to take place in UP. Both the occasions acted as the super spreader of the virus and aggravated the situation.  Here our home minister and the Prime Minister played a crucial role by addressing huge election rallies. Not for nothing the Madras High Court has come heavily on the Election Commission of India for this.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of India also looked the other way when all this was happening. Nowhere in the world has the second wave of Covid-19 caused so much misery to people as it has done in India. It could have been contained if the government had acted decisively on time.

However, the need of the hour is free and universal vaccination. This must be done urgently and without fail. Moreover, the government must ensure a sufficient supply of oxygen in the hospitals and there should not be any hurdles in the transportation of oxygen.

The Government must be careful so that any measure aiming at containing the Covid-19 does not affect the livelihood of the people working in the unorganized sector. The economy of our country is already on tenterhooks.  A single wrong move on the part of the government may be disastrous for all of us.

Paresh Malakar

Paresh Malakar is a commentator based in Guwahati. He can be reached at: malakarparesh@gmail.com