Will the nation remember two lakh fifty thousand citizens who died due to Covid?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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The dance of death continues and it is extremely difficult to see people dying in pain without any dignity given to them even in death. Will India ever remember this holocaust which has not yet stopped even as we are nearing to two lakh fifty thousand deaths which is actually an official figure but the real figure may be much higher. Not a single minister apart from the Supreme Leader and his deputy has expressed any remorse over these deaths. Years ago, RSS used the death of a couple of Car Sevaks in Ayodhya in October 1990 when the police fired upon them. Every village had these stories of ‘great’ car sevaks who actually were violators of the law of the land, being presented as ‘shaheeds’. We don’t see anybody going to the town expressing shock and remorse that the Indian state has been made to fail.

Was this ‘systematic failure’ out of innocence or deliberate?  Will we ever ask questions to Narendra Modi and his cabinet for their abject failure and dereliction of duty?

Will India ever ‘moan’ for these deaths. We banged thali-lotas-torches and every other thing but not a single word about these deaths. If things remain the same, as LANCET journal has predicted quoting experts that the death may go up to one million in India and yet not a single person is responding or taking moral responsibility. Day in and out, the government is worried about its ‘image’ rather than concentrating on the medical infrastructure of the country.

Yesterday, two deaths brought a lot of pain and anguish to many people. There was a star (I don’t know as I rarely watch TV or any alternative media such Netflix or Amazon prime) who died at a young age of 35. He had millions of followers on YouTube but when he needed a good hospital or a bed, he was unable to find it. His last tweet reflected how desperate he was but gave up at the end. His last tweet was to save him but he knew the help was not going to come. 

The death of Shri Mahavir Narwal shocked the entire nation. Father of Natasha Narwal, activist of Pinjara Tod movement at the Delhi University who is in Tihar Jail for her participation in the anti-CAA-NRC protests. Rather than dealing with the issue with great sensitivity, the government of India as usual used its machinery and agencies to threaten and intimidate the activists and vilified them through selective leaks to their darbari media to shout loud about them and engage in C grade debate which has become the hallmark of the prime time debates these days.

Anyway, Mahavir Narwal was a proud father of an equally inspiring daughter Natasha.

Keep aside your differences, I would say, he was an ideal father at least in the Indian circumstances where daughters face harsh restrictions and I have seen many of those ‘revolutionaries’ who won’t allow their daughters to take an independent decision. Contrary to this, Mahavir Narwal was proud of his daughter’s decision and stood behind her through thick and thin. In a society where parents impose their will and stop defending their daughter when she is in crisis, Mahavir Narwal continues to feel proud of his daughter. We know, for a middle-class family face when its daughter is in jail and many would complain like ‘she was like this only’ and others will speak of moral values like ‘where was the need to protest or be in the front.

The other point is, that an activist could not be with her father at the time of his death. This is criminal.

Our institutions have lost their impartiality. They are treating these scholars as criminals just because they did not believe in a political decision of the government. Why should they face sedition and other charges? Why should they face UAPA but then the Supreme Court will take several decades to decide about it and come with ‘strong’ ‘observation’ by the time, nobody is there to face the punishment or even celebration.

Today, we all are living in deeply depressing situations. We don’t know what to do and where to go. We are losing friends as well as near dear ones. The state is not yet prepared. We know they will come out with other narratives with videos of pictures of Oxygen being transported by trains to state or big support coming from the Western countries because of ‘Modi ji” but we will not hear from the government whether they will strengthen our medical infrastructure. We won’t hear a single word about whether the nation should moan for these killings.

No war has killed this many people as this terrible virus has caused.

Terrorism has not killed this many people. But our expenditure on arms is much higher than our spending on health care services. People should start demanding a concrete programme for the betterment of our health care services. Will our government go beyond ‘medical insurance’ and strengthen the primary health care centres at the village level as well as District levels too? I don’t expect much from the current regime which is looking for every opportunity to shamelessly levy a GST on everything.

We are exasperated but that is dangerous. This desperation and such stories are making people depressed but we don’t see any soothing balm or concern by any of these Ministers and their cronies. Our media still is not asking tough questions as it failed to put blame on the top leadership of the country. It refuses to say that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have failed miserably and pushed India to disaster. Our health minister continues to speak up ‘success’ stories and is happy to sit and promote the Patanjali products while other ministers will ask not to ‘internationalise’ the crisis while getting all the support from even tiny nations of the world. Well, I can only say, every help matters and must be appreciated. It should also open up the mind of those in power that it does not matter how big your size is but how democratic you are and what is the quality of life in your country.

Size can only matter for those who indulged in jingoism and false pride. For those who want a better life and state’s responsibility, they can always give examples after example of how Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Japan and even the UK might be ‘tiny’ countries but far superior both in democracy and quality of life. Yes, the way things are now returning to normal there and the economy bouncing back with a bang is an example that the crisis has to be resolved by listening to scientists and medical experts. Our government chose Babas and netas to resolve the crisis and now we are facing a serious crisis as none of them will ever own their failure but will continue to divert attention and make a business out of the crisis.

The lesson is clear. The religious gangs will only bring disaster and will never ever concede that things happened due to them. Some of them are giving ‘traditional’ solutions while many claims that there is nothing like Covid. Such thugs are continuously being allowed at our prime time without any penal action.

The Supreme Court has formed a committee of experts to monitor the distribution of Oxygen but it should have focussed seriously on the entire medical sector and form the committee to strengthen it. I don’t believe that courts are here to govern but when the government fails, it is time for other institutions to show some spine and act so that precious lives can be saved and people are not humiliated and harassed to get fair treatment.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

May 10th, 2021


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