It has been a horrifying few days for India, with medical supplies running low and a surge in COVID-19 cases threatening to overwhelm the medical infrastructure. Reports and visuals from various parts of the country shows queues outside both hospitals and crematoriums, while social media is inundated with frantic calls for help. From oxygen and Remdesivir to a lack of beds - the social media posts run the gamut.
In the last 24 hours, Delhi has found itself on the brink of disaster with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeting on Tuesday night that some hospitals did not have enough oxygen supplies to sustain patients through the night. In Goa meanwhile, the export of oxygen cylinders outside the state has been banned with immediate effect. Officials said that all industrial oxygen requirements were to be diverted towards the health services, GMC and COVID-19 hospitals.
But even as the Indian government scrambles to deal with the situation and global tenders are floated for oxygen supplies, a recent report has sparked Opposition fury. A recent Moneycontrol report revealed that even as the pandemic raged, India had more than doubled oxygen exports. The article cites official data to explain that in the first three quarters of FY21, 9294 MT of oxygen (in the form of liquid oxygen) was exported from India, primarily to Bangladesh. As per official data, in the April-January period of FY21, exports were more than double that of the previous year.
Needless to say, as the data went viral, Opposition leaders reacted with sharp criticism. Many Congress leaders including Priyanka Gandhi and Digvijay Singh have citied the news to heap blame upon Prime Minister Modi and members of his cabinet, even as others recalled that India had exported or gifted copious amounts of COVID-19 vaccines over the last few months.