(Asian Independent)- The system has collapsed’, is a general cry these days as event unfolding everyday bring more uncertainty and desperation. As an Indian, I can say, we were never so helpless as we are feeling it today. I mean, you cant help any one, you cant go to meet families of friends, you cant meet relatives. Common man is just alarmed if things happen to him then what will happen. People are dying of utter neglect and we never heard a single journalist asking question to top two or top three of this government.
So many people died because of lack of Oxygen in country’s prestigious hospitals and yet no questions were being asked. Officially the death figure due to Covid 19 has crossed 1,92,000 till this morning. The second wave has exposed India’s unpreparedness to deal with it. People are dying due to lack of Oxygen and non availability of beds in the hospitals. If our memory is not too short, then remember what has happened last year during April. The government used Railway coaches as isolation centres. Many of the artificial structures were created but I don’t know how fast we ‘dismantled’ those structure when we knew that things are still in the air and no medical doctor has declared ultimate victory over Corona except the top ministers of this government. Where have those makeshift hospitals or facilities gone which were prepared to meet the challenge hospitalisation of Covid 19 infected people ? Will any one ask how much money was invested in it and who were the companies and people who got the contract ?
Now we are hearing that the government will do the same. Make an artificial structure to deal with the rising number of Corona infected people but it is also a fact that it is not Corona that is killing but lack of our preparedness, non supply of Oxygen that was responsible. It was shameful and deeply disturbing to see many of the chiefs of these prestigious hospitals were feeling suffocated and desperate at the situation because of their inability to deal with it.
As report after report castigate the government with inefficiency and insensitivity, the ruling party has again attempted to deal with it with ‘multi pronged strategy’. One side heavy PR exercise through their ‘favourite’ channels and newspapers who are ready to play for them in lieu of big favours and money and the other side is more dangerous where some of these ‘respected’ ‘patrkars’ and ‘sampadaks’ i.e. journalists and editors, are asking the government to ‘control’ the ‘freedom of expression’, in the ‘national interest’. Not to be outdone in his service to the supreme leader, our minister for the Information Technology and law asked the social media platform Twitter to remove the tweets which speak of systematic failure. The minister has always been speaking of threatening language. In the state too, journalists who are trying to give authentic information are being threatened.
When North Indian states are suffering from mismanagement and crisis of Oxygen, in South particularly Kerala and Tamilnandu have shown the way. Kerala’s 10 medical colleges have two Oxygen plants each to provide them uninterrupted supply. The state increased its Oxygen capability by 58% in the last one year. It planned meticulously by understanding the importance of it during the crisis last year. Tamilnadu has much more Oxygen than it is needed during the year. It has the capacity of producing 400 MT Oxygen per day while its demand for the hospitals so far is merely 240 MT. In Delhi Arvind Kejriwal used nearly 150 crore on his publicity exercise during the first three month of 2021 while crying over the lack of Oxygen because most of the plants have moved out of Delhi. The issue is did he not know that a crisis can happen and he has to deal with it given the nature of the central government which was not keen to allow him any freedom to do things.
The problem is that after deaths of so many known journalists, activists, academics, common persons the media woke up to show some concern about the situation and mismanagement at our hospitals. Rather than asking Narendra Modi the question, they have now started paddling a new ‘term’ ‘system collapsed’. Now this needs to be explained as what collapsed and who is responsible ?
Well, India has never invested heavily on health and education. But whatever was being spent has been reduced by the Modi government which is on a privatising spree. This government has only one agenda and that is to privatise India’s public sector rapidly and they found the Corona period the best opportunity to do so when trade unions and people will be busy or engaged in their own survival and nobody would have chance to question but they know well that things are not that easy hence a new narrative has to be started to benefit them.
When Shekhar Gupta and other ‘experts’ start the ‘system collapse’, then you must understand what narrative they are planting. Yes, these are the people who benefitted from their networking in Business and political circles. The system collapse will suggest that ‘government’ ‘alone’ cant handle this crisis so give ‘freedom’ to private companies. The whole idea is to discredit the public institutions, dismantle them and degrade them. That way, the ‘liberals’ who are actually economic right and more dangerous as they look ‘seculars’ to us but work for the benefit of the big companies who fund their projects, media empires.
A good case work would be to find out which countries performed better in dealing with Covid and what is the role of the government in the health sector. The worst was the United States and the best are Taiwan, Newzealand, Iceland, Singapore and Vietnam. And look who did the worst : USA, Brazil, Mexico, India and UK. It will be good to look at the health care system in these countries. The UK for sure failed because the government did not take timely action though the National Health Services ( NHS) proved best bet for them and at the moment they have reduced the fatalities and returning to normalcy. USA is the model of ‘corporate’ hegemony that funds a large number of ‘opinion makers’ so that they can say hosannas on the role of ‘corporate’.
India needs to be careful at this moment. I can again say, strengthen the health care system. If the centre fails to do so, let the state come with their own state owned health care system. States can always do so whether in Education or Health and invest more money in it, build big public institutions and that would work as a wonder. If the states have vision they can be the role model. Southern states in India are still far ahead of the north because north Indian hospitals have become money minting machines. It is time for the governments to strengthen health services at the districts, block and town levels so that people can go there and get quality treatment.
So system collapse should mean strengthening our health infrastructure through public sector or government money but not to hand it over to the corporate and asking them to charge exorbitantly as per their whims and fancies. This needs to be questioned. First you blamed Nehru for your failure and now you are bringing ‘system failure’ to protect your inefficiencies’ and failure. But the problem is what is the use of asking a government or a leader about its failure when it still is ‘acceptable’ to the people or when they are ready to listen to his ‘man kee baat’. A good joke that roamed around various WhatsApp groups was : Why are people asking for good hospitals and oxygen cylinders when they voted for ‘Ram Mandir’. Modi ji is fulfilling the historical demand of the people to build a ‘grand’ Ram Temple so they should be satisfied. Hospitals, schools everything can come later or we can still do without them.
It is a wake up call. We have already lost. Let us not give a chance to those who ‘weave’ new stories and make the ‘system collapse’ a means to bring private monopolies in the health sector as well as elsewhere. Understand the chronology.
-Vidya Bhushan Rawat
April 25th, 2021