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Rising infections in India: Blame it on political class

Filed on April 5, 2021
Election campaign in West Bengal. — AP

The health of the nation of 1.3 billion is at stake with politicians busy doling out freebies and brandishing promises to woo the electorate who come out to listen to them in thousands

Health officials need not look beyond Indian politicians campaigning among the crowds with not even a pretence of social distancing and masking to understand why coronavirus cases have hit record levels in the country. On Monday the country showed a daily rise of 100,000 new cases, the first time in over of a year. It’s a shocking dereliction of duty by those in government and the ruling class but their sins will be forgotten and forgiven on the road to power. The ruling class will go unpunished and blame will be pointed at some regional governments and even the hand of fate. The ordinary citizen, meanwhile, is bearing the worst of the suffering because the lust for power is greater than the common good. The health of the nation of 1.3 billion is at stake with politicians busy doling out freebies and brandishing promises to woo the electorate who come out to listen to them in thousands — the perfect setting for the pathogen to spread. Super-spreader events are being held in the country in plain sight but winning is all that matters in the charged political climate where charges and counters are being hurled.

Only two months ago cases had ebbed (and people had grown complacent). New Delhi was sending vaccines abroad as vaccinations at home got off to a slow start (it has picked up since). Experts rushed to conclusions about herd immunity setting in early and the government slapped itself on the back for the stellar leadership it had shown in times of crisis. Vaccine diplomacy was the song on everyone’s lips while viral dangers continued to lurk at home. Others said Indians had it in their genes to fend off the virus that still remains mysterious, its origins unclear, though bats may have been the first host.

The vaccination drive had commenced in January in India and it appeared that people would be spared the second wave of infections. This was not to be. The complacency only grew with the announcement of elections and the subsequent political rallies by myriad parties in states going to polls — Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and West Bengal. Caution has since been thrown to the winds during election season and the country is reaping the whirlwind of infections. The western state of Maharashtra has the highest cases the government would do well to vaccinate citizens of the state, of all ages rapidly by roping in the private sector for the task. The country can reverse course if people stop listening to the political class while placing their trust in science. They should first head to the nearest vaccination booths before casting their ballots at polling stations.





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