he COVID-19 scenario, rather than improving, is turning worse for India. With two months of lockdown, the nation is faced with the worst health crisis in the form of the pandemic that has taken lives so far of over 4,000 people. But much more than health, the lockdown has completely crippled the nation’s economy. India is now among the top-ten nations vis-à-vis intensity of COVID spread. States like Gujarat, with a sizeable population returning from abroad, have been the main culprits in spreading the imported disease among the lower economic strata of India.
Significantly, at the very start and now too, the mega cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Pune are facing the brunt. The national COVID-19 infection tally is getting close to 1,40,000 and deaths to about 4,000. Worse, if over 200 districts were immune from the virus hit in the middle of the crisis in April, now that number has shrunk to just about 70 out of the total 733 districts. These districts are also bound to succumb in a matter of weeks. With trains carrying hundreds of migrant workers from distant areas back to their states or hometowns in a steady stream, states like Odisha and West Bengal, which were only marginally hit up until now, might see a worsening of the scenario.
Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have gone into silent mode, apparently as his strategy to drive away the virus has failed. The virus did not get scared out of the night shows from balconies; and hopes of eliminating the virus altogether by imposing a nation-wide total lockdown originally for three weeks’ time were dashed. Even its extension to two months and more is not helping check infection rates.
It must be admitted that the lockdown has severely affected the economy while its impact on the spread of the virus is not verifiable. While a particular kind of misinformation is being consistently spread that the virus has spread rapidly in India because of the poor and Dharavi type slum dwellers not maintaining social distancing, the truth is completely different. The virus was initially flown in to India from provinces like Hubei and Wuhan, which were considered hotbeds for the virus at that time. Then came loaded flights from Italy and other highly affected countries. Again, after Namaste Trump and change of Madhya Pradesh state government, the lockdown decision was unnecessarily delayed. The disease had trickled down to the poor by then.
Notably, the so-called model state of Gujarat has fared the worst amongst all states with its inept handling of the infection situation. This fact has been highlighted by the stricture of the Gujarat High Court which has called the situation in the government hospital ‘as good as a dungeon, maybe worse’. However, more important is the admission of the Gujarat government to the High Court that it is not permitting private labs and hospitals to go ahead with COVID testing since it wants to act as the ‘gatekeeper’. This word exposes the mischief of not only Gujarat but, most probably, all other states which are fiddling with figures of affected, recovered and death cases due to the virus. Truth is the final victim in this organized governmental exercise.