By Justice Markandey Katju
The covid pandemic started in India around January 2020, and a nationwide lockdown was imposed by the Prime Minister on 24th March 2020
Following this, tens of millions of migrant workers, contract and temporary employees, etc were laid off, and many had to trek from cities to their village homes with their families, suffering terribly. The Indian economy, which was already faltering before the pandemic, was badly hit, throwing millions out of employment.
The Government of India had prematurely declared a victory over the disease, but now a second, more devastating wave of an apparently mutated covid virus, which seems much more infectious and deadly than the original one, has hit India. Between 350,000 to 400,000 cases of covid are being reported daily, and the true figure may be much higher. India has now become the epicentre of covid in the world.
An NRI friend of mine living in USA asked me how can the pandemic in India be eradicated ? I told him it cannot be eradicated, despite the efforts of many people, until it has run its course.
To explain, I said that India is a disorganised country, with a huge population of over 1.35 billion people. It is not an organised country like the USA which has extensive data about its people, and whose authorities can make schemes which can be implemented. Hence, covid has been checked in USA, and is on the decline.
On the other hand, in India we don’t even have accurate data, and often the schemes made by the legislatures or government cannot be enforced ( due to widespread corruption etc ) e.g. pollution laws, building regulations etc which are often on paper only. As is often said ” Yahaan sab Bhagwan bharosey hai ” ( everything here is in the hands of God ).
Apart from that, there are crooked people in India who try to make money in every calamity. Many scams have been reported in India relating to the covid pandemic. So called philanthropic fund raisers are deceiving people that they will use the funds raised for covid victims, when instead it will go into their pockets.
As for our political leaders, their priority is winning elections, which take place every 6-9 months in one or more of the 29 states and 7 union territories of India, and are fiercely contested with no holds barred. Large assemblies with no social distancing, masks and other safeguards, are organised and addressed by our leaders, e.g. in the recent West Bengal elections. The Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, a Hindu religious gathering of millions of people with no covid safeguards was permitted, obviously for fear of losing Hindu votes in the next elections. Obviously all these must have spread covid further.
So how will the covid end in India ? I submit it will only end when it has run its course ( though in the meantime it will take its toll of lives ). How long will it take to run its course no one can predict.
Pandemics are nothing new in the world. There have been the Black Death of 1336-40, the bubonic plague, the Spanish flu of 1918-20, etc
All these came to an end ( though of course after killing millions of people ). How did that happen ? I am not a medical expert, but my common sense tells me that after some time, in some way, humans developed immunity to the disease. Perhaps the same will happen in India. Time alone will tell.