Photographer: Samir Jana
On April 12th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India held a large election rally where the Prime Minister himself and the large crowds in attendance failed to wear masks.
During the rally, Modi proclaimed, “I’ve never seen such huge crowds…India had defeated Covid last year, and India can do it again.” That same day, India witnessed a record-breaking 234,000 COVID-19 cases.
Leaders of key states in India were understandably angry with Modi. Even Modi’s previous finance minister lashed out at him, saying the prime minister’s delight at the large crowds “could only come from a person who is completely insensitive” The chief ministers of Maharashtra, a state in India, tried multiple times to get in touch with Modi about the shortage of oxygen in hospitals, but they were told the Prime Minister was too busy focusing on his campaign rallies.
India has been in a COVID crisis for the past few months, with 1.6 million COVID cases recorded in a week and a total number of 15 million cases. “Leadership across the country did not adequately convey that this was an epidemic that had not gone away”, K Srinath Reddy, the president of the Public Health Foundation in India, said. Modi’s government has refused to put a pause on his political rallies despite the raging cases of COVID- 19. Three candidates running in India’s election have died from the virus so far. Dr. Amit Thadhani, director of the Niramaya Hospital, warned others of the dangerous second wave of covid that hit in February. The government went and ignored the doctor’s warnings.
After the second wave of COVID hit India, things have gotten devastatingly worse. Jalil Parker, who works for Lilavati hospital, said, “The whole healthcare system has collapsed and doctors are exhausted. There is a shortage of beds, shortage of oxygen, shortage of drugs, shortage of vaccines, shorting of testing.” Indian states, such as Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, have been accused of hiding the true amount of COVID-19 deaths because the number of dead being stacked in morgues does not correlate with official numbers. This has led many to fear that things will not get better in India.
With no oxygen, no beds, no available hospitals, and a prime minister unwilling to acknowledge the severity of this pandemic, India is in trouble. However, if you want to find ways to help, PBS has published a great resource that includes several ways to help organizations, like Oxygen for India, through donation. if you have the time and means, this is a great way to help!