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Surging pandemic exposes Modi’s failures in India

14th May 2021
Surging pandemic exposes Modi’s failures in India

Relatives of a person who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India on May 4, 2021. (Photo credit:Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency)

 

Over the past month, India has suffered one of the biggest surges of Covid-19 any country has seen, with cases rising by around twelvefold, according to official figures. Yet, as the pandemic raged, elections involving nearly 150 million Indians went ahead in five states.

The ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was aiming to present embattled Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in a more favourable light. Despite making West Bengal his key battleground, personally visiting the state at least two dozen times, he failed to dislodge the state’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee.

Like the ruling party’s vast political machine, the result has left Modi buried under losing its way. The magnitude of the crisis has exposed just how neglected the healthcare system is in the second-most populous country in the world.

The latest wave brought devastating scenes reminiscent of the dark ages. Among the world’s 25 biggest emerging markets, India ranks last for the number of hospital beds per 1,000 citizens, fifth from last for doctors, and fourth last for nurses and midwives.

Even compared with much poorer countries, including neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, India still looks second-rate with its basic healthcare systems.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion, the tidal wave of cases ripping through India with new variants threatens the recovery from the pandemic hoped for elsewhere relying mostly on stringent measures and mass vaccinations.

The future has been put at risk with what’s been dubbed Modi’s obsession with electioneering. The government’s farce was exported to London when at least two members of the Indian delegation attending the G7 were forced to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19.

Although Modi tried to shift the onus on state governments to fix the emergency, it is the neglect of the healthcare system that has put the blame squarely laid at his door.

If the Bengal election becomes a de facto referendum on his government, his attempt to turn India effectively into a one-party extremist state has failed at such a cost. It ought to be a watershed; instead, he has made India a broken country causing such enormous suffering. If anything, the pandemic has spoken albeit much too late.

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