Though India had done better compared to developed countries, there is still need to work effectively to reduce the adverse effects on health, social fabric and finance.
The world had witnessed panic, fear, stress, and loss of near and dear ones, especially during corona phase II. Even India had to face the worst time compared to corona phase I. An unforeseen rise in oxygen demand, ICU beds, and few medicines created a situation that had become difficult for many state governments to handle the critical situation which caused further deterioration of the situation.
My intention is not to blame any government or make it a political one. We need to analyse where we have failed as a team in corona phase II, mostly in a few states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, which has resulted in a surge in covid patients and deaths. There were instances where people have been exploited for injection, medicines, oxygen requirement and bed. Many people have lost their little savings. Whatever mistakes happened in phase II, we need to learn lessons to avoid any misfortunes in phase III.
Though India had done better compared to developed countries, we cannot be happy for this reason. We still need to work effectively to reduce the adverse effects on health, social fabric and finance. Let me put up few points where we went wrong and need to focus on making things easier and better in the coming phases:
• Maharashtra has been number one in phases I and II. The total cases in Maharashtra amount to 63,82,076 and death 134730. It was essential to take actions based on the number of cases in phase I and severe warnings from experts worldwide regarding phase II.
• Central government had allocated funds for oxygen plants. Was it not a duty of the state government to get it done in every district with the help of the central team? We could have avoided a lot of fatalities and related medical issues. The same thing happened with the Delhi government. Rather than blame game, if they had worked pro-active, the situation could have been much better in Delhi. Rather, they opted for a blame game against the central government and more efforts were put on self-promotion advertisements, which were unnecessary stuff. Creating unreal disproportionate demand for oxygen to put pressure on the central government and to create a bad image of PM was not in the right spirit. This has resulted in a shortage of oxygen in neighbouring states, causing more deaths. Black hoarding of oxygen concentrators and essential medicines was rampant; however, no strict action was visible on the ground to stop it. At least, we need to show unity, keeping politics aside for the betterment of our people.
• Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope did well during corona phase one. However, he failed to mounting pressure in phase II owing to insufficient arrangements and preparation after corona phase I.
• Kerala is still showing very high numbers. One of the reasons is vote bank politics. When the number of cases was very high, was it important to allow a religious festival to be performed with no restrictions? Even when there are least cases in UP, the government didn’t allow religious Kawar Yatra. How Kerala government can be so insensitive when they could have discussed with Muslim leaders and did not open restrictions.
• What went wrong in small states like Maharashtra, Kerala, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, UT Delhi region compared to the better managed covid situation UP even after having 24 crores densely populated state. The experts need to study with no bias, analyse and make a correction plan so that central government with state governments can work on it and take necessary steps in each district to modify the necessary infrastructure and medical facilities, training to health workers, synchronisation of social organisations and government agencies to work in cognisance during a pandemic or any other similar situation.
• The criticism of the central government over centrally managed vaccination drive by opposition parties and non-BJP ruled states was finally a farce when the central government handed over the vaccination drive on 1st April. Not a single state could manage this drive on their own. Finally, after one and half months, the central government had to take back the drive in their control after a request from all state governments and seeing the difficulty people are facing in getting a vaccination.
• Health is a state subject; still, most of the states depended on the central government for all the requirements. I am not saying the central government is not responsible; however, expecting everything from the central government cannot be the right approach.
Actions that are anticipated:
• Oxygen plants in every district to cater to the need for oxygen locally. UP is already much ahead in implementing it with firmness. Cylinders with necessary quantity in each district, looking at the quantum of patients in phase I and II and proper transport facility in place.
• Proper communication network set up to get easy access to various hospitals, quarantine centres, pathology labs, ambulances, police stations, NGOs, and other social organisations working on the ground to help corona patients and their families.
• Electronic media needs to be taught about how they present news to the people; it should mention real stories and not create panic and fear among people.
• Proper management of vaccination drive at each place.
Every government must know that people’s lives matter, whether a person is rich or poor, black or white, irrespective of caste and creed. The focus should not be to politicise such a critical situation to garner votes at the cost of panic, fear, delusion, financial loss, major health issues, losing some near and dear ones. Hope sanity prevails.
The contribution of social organisations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Art of Living, ISKCON, Isha Foundation and many Temple trusts is beyond imagination and with no bias. Each state government must work out necessary action plans with these organisations and trusts to make groundwork more effective. We need to strive for excellence in the medical field when we are entering the 75th year of our independence.