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In normal times, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet telling people to go out and vote would be a routine call to action. But as his country drowns in the worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic the world has seen so far, it is a death wish.
“The final phase of the 2021 West Bengal elections takes place today,” Modi tweeted Thursday as India officially recorded nearly 380,000 new cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths. “In accordance with COVID-19 protocols, I call on people to vote and enrich the festival of democracy.”
50 Million People Allowed To Superspreader Festival So Modi Can Get Hindu Vote
But the problem is, there isn’t a strong enough COVID-19 protocol to stop the rampant spread of the coronavirus in India. Hospitals are more than overwhelmed, medical supplies are severely overloaded, and makeshift crematoriums are hastily built in parking lots to keep pace with the dead. Some are only half-incinerated due to the shortage of firewood. People die in their cars in front of hospitals and collapse in the streets.
And there is no clear plan. The country’s 940 million adults will be eligible for vaccines as of Saturday, but health officials say there aren’t enough doses for everyone, and the Serum Institute of India, which produces the manufactured vaccine. in India AstraZeneca, claims to have an order book of five to six months. India’s immunization program, which started vigorously with 3 million doses per day a few months ago, has failed due to shortages. The serum pumps around 60 million doses per month, Bharat Biotech produces around 10 million of its Covaxin injections and another company will start producing Russia’s Sputnik V later this year, the New York Times reports. But none of this is enough. “It’s like inviting 100 people over to your house for lunch. You have the resources to cook for 20 people ”, epidemiologist Dr Chandrakant Lahariya tweeted.
Write in the GuardianNovelist and political activist Arundhati Roy says the world is witnessing a crime against humanity and she thinks Modi is squarely to blame. “People are dying in hospital corridors, on the roads and in their homes. Delhi’s crematoriums are running out of firewood. The forestry department had to give special permission for the felling of the city’s trees, ”she wrote. “The system has not collapsed. The government has failed. Perhaps “failed” is an incorrect word, because what we are witnessing is not criminal negligence, but an outright crime against humanity. “
It’s no wonder the #ModiMustResign hashtag is trending. His ruling party, Bharatiya Janata, prematurely claimed he had defeated COVID-19, giving people the confidence to return to normalcy. In March, 50,000 fans watched a cricket match at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. A month later, thousands of people attended Modi’s political rallies and attempted to wipe out the virus en masse at the Kumbh Mela Festival during group bathing events in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.
The situation is only getting worse. The US Embassy has even called on all US citizens to evacuate the country, in an unprecedented move usually reserved for Americans in countries at war.
But India’s healthcare system, which the World Health Organization ranked among the worst in the world long before the pandemic, is now blamed for the chaos even as Modi stokes the fire by refusing to call a national lockdown, likely to guarantee that people can come out and vote for his party. “Our system is broken even in normal times,” Ruben Mascarenhas, a social activist in Mumbai, told the Los Angeles Times in New Delhi. “We can’t really expect this to work during the pandemic … Our hearts break every time a case goes unresolved. It’s like an ongoing nightmare. You have one during the day. You have one at night. And it continues like this.
Meanwhile, Modi continues to campaign, promising that if his party retains power, vaccines will miraculously be available to everyone and the crisis will subside. Not everyone believes it, of course. “The crisis-generating machine that we call our government is incapable of getting us out of this disaster,” Roy writes in her. Guardian editorial. “Notably because one man makes all the decisions in this government, and this man is dangerous – and not very smart.”
As of noon Thursday, millions of voters had lined up to vote in the state of West Bengal, which had so far escaped the worst of India’s latest wave, but still had cases at an all-time high daily. But judging by the lack of social distancing at the polls, that will likely change soon.
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