Ujjain: There is seldom any consoling story to be told about grief or mass suffering. A culture of official nationalism where the images of death offend more than death itself?
An urgent need to fix several policies. But what do policy proposals mean, when all policy is about managing headlines, not achieving an objective? There is a need to fix accountability.
How does accountability get fixed when sinews from federalism to bureaucracy have been snapped? There is justifiable anger at the Prime Minister, whose self-obsessive callousness and abdication of leadership holding hundreds of mass election rallies, permitting Kumbh has contributed immeasurably to the current crisis. But in the case of this government, anger seems misplaced.
In any case, the scenes of suffering make even anger a luxury; there are more urgent tasks to be attended to only empowering thought in this context has been the splendid work that professionals, frontline government workers, health professionals and volunteers are doing to compensate for massive state failure.
India has always been a tough place; the callousness that comes with inequality is deeply inscribed in our social structure. Politics was supposed to mitigate at least the harshest edges of this inequality. Instead, what we are seeing in the politics of the BJP is the unleashing of an unvarnished social Darwinism, a ruthless exercise of power on behalf of the powerful: Majorities against minorities, state against dissenters, and big capital against small. The spectre of more repression being unleashed to manage the post-pandemic discontent cannot be ruled out.
Perhaps, a good test case is something urgent: A reconsideration of our vaccine policy. The four pronged vaccine policy must be founded on following four tenets:
1. Do whatever it takes to make sure there are enough supplies (the right procurement contract, capital subsidies, capacity expansion, and, if need be, the suspension of intellectual property rights).
2. Centrally procure vaccines but give states operational flexibility.
3. Distribute them free.
4. Do all of this as fast as possible, if we are to prevent new mutants from arising.
This is essentially what the United States did. U.S.A. made war like preparations their 40% population has received two doses 55% population has received one dose. Invested $20 billon as advance to vaccine developer
This is the moment to convert private acts of kindness into demands for a different public health culture. We can start by demanding a reconsideration of our vaccine strategy, and then think of larger political change.
Dr VK Mahadik
RDG Medical College, Ujjain