Humayun Aziz Sandeela
At a time when Narendra Modi came into power in 2014, India had been treading the path of being one of the economic powerhouses and an attractive partner for the western alliance. However, today, the “Shining India” slogans once used as a publicity stunt by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, is in tatters as news and images emerged out of India as how Indians died of COVID-19 in the streets coupled with the gruesome pictures of mass cremations in parking lots and on sidewalks.
India’s second wave of the pandemic has once again revived the images of a country of disease and death that once was its hallmark before 1990. The pandemic became a global embarrassment for India as countries like Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and others continued sending supplies to India despite the country being a vaccine manufacturing hub as India failed to meet the needs of its own populace.
Majority blame the Modi government for its inefficiency and negligence in handling the second wave of coronavirus. When the COVID-19 became a pandemic back in March 2020, Modi acted swiftly ordering a nationwide lockdown and implementation of standard operating procedures against the virus. Though the lockdown badly hit the poor yet initially it succeeded in stalling the stem of virus infections. However, the Indian government laxity in tackling the second wave speaks volume of its negligence which has claimed over 359,695 lives and 29,183,121 infected as of June 10, 2021.
In order to hide its inability to deal with the state of affairs that cropped up due to its ineffective health system, Indian government overlooked fatalities and in many cases downplayed them mostly understating the human toll which accounts for almost half of the world deaths.
The incidents of COVID related deaths in high-profile persons in India also raised questions about the facilities provided to Indian as well as foreign nationals in the country against the pandemic.
On 27 April 2021 COVID-19 claimed lives of 2 staff members of US Embassy in India while 100 more were reported to be infected, reported CNN. India, also tried to hide the death of a senior US embassy official recently in New Delhi, which is an attempt to save itself from global embarrassment.
While Modi’s swift action saved his country from devastation in 2020, his contingency planning for a future resurgence remained negligible as is evident from the second wave in India where election rallies, religious gatherings like Kumbh Mela and holding of Indian Premier League matches in presence of fans led to a disaster due to the sheer scale of its population.
Despite being one of the major vaccine manufacturers in the world, Modi’s government failed to provide adequate funding to ramp up the needed supply of COVID-19 vaccines even to its population. As part of its vaccine diplomacy stint, India doled out 60 million doses of vaccine to other nations. And so far India is unable to make up for the shortages. These measures proved drastic and India population bore the brunt of it and so were the local and foreign staff members of US Embassy.
Narendra Modi was thought to be an efficient administrator, but the COVID pandemic has revealed his shortcomings in managing the Indian nation, vast and complex with its multicultural population. He even failed to protect Muslims when during the first wave his party leaders blamed Muslims for spreading COVID.
Although Modi boasts himself as a personality representing common people, but his policies like demonetization in 2016 and the 2020 lockdown have had an adverse impact on the most vulnerable population of the country, displaying a remarkable lack of empathy for the very people he claims to represent.
Now Modi regime wants no one to know about the death of a foreign diplomat to hide its inefficiency in handling the global pandemic. The extent of the damage inflicted by the laxity shown by Narendra Modi led government to India is enormous and now it is using damage control tactics for face saving against the embarrassment among the comity of nations, but the damage has been done and hiding someone’s death from global community will not earn New Delhi some good reputation.
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