Narendra Modi and the Dangers of Covid Hubris


“It simply came to our notice then. . . defeated Covid-19 under the capable, reasonable, dedicated and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Modi. . . The party unequivocally welcomes its leadership as it has presented India to the world as a proud and victorious nation in the fight against Covid. “It simply came to our notice then words a resolution passed by the ruling Indian party Bharatiya Janata just weeks ago in February.

But now it is India winding from surge cases. Hospitals do not have oxygen and beds for acute care. Mass cremations take place in improvised objects. Images of suffering that love the heart are broadcast around the world. Mortuary research suggests the number of Covid-19 deaths could be two to five times more than the official figure of about 2000 per day.

A pandemic punishes pride. Narendra Modi is not the first world leader to pay the price for acting too slowly – or declaring victory too early.

In China, where the virus originated, the first catastrophic reaction from the Xi Jinping government was to suppress bad news exits Wuhan. In the United States, Donald Trump, the then president, repeatedly predicted that the virus would work wonders disappear. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro addressed sets demonstrated against locking. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked the country too late. EU messed up purchase of vaccines.

But Modi’s government made some characteristic and catastrophic mistakes. Calling for an end to the crisis too soon, the Indian government opened up too quickly. Driven by a desire to defeat the key state of West Bengal, the BJP staged mass election rallies. Modi declared himself “thrilled” by the large crowd that turned out to have heard him a few days ago, even when the Covid-19 cases took off. The Kumbh mela, a religious festival that allows millions of pilgrims to gather in one city, the Hindu nationalist BJP allowed it to continue and even promoted it.

Indian government failed take advantage of the drop in infection after the first wave to properly prepare for the second wave. Emergency oxygen supplies were obviously too low. Despite the fact that India is the world’s largest producer of vaccines of all kinds, the government has been ordering terribly slow local producers. It also slowed the approval of proven foreign vaccines for Covid-19, such as the BioNTech / Pfizer jab, while promoting a more experimental Indian-designed vaccine.

National pride played a role in India’s willingness to continue exporting vaccines, even though domestic supply was lagging behind. The Indian government is promoted the idea that the earth is the “pharmacy of the world.” Geopolitical rivalry with China, which uses diplomacy vaccine to conquer global influence, was a background factor. Delhi’s willingness to export vaccines to the world was also in stark contrast to the lack of exports from the US and UK. But the Indian government now forbidden vaccine exports. It also speeds up the approval of foreign vaccines.

Modi entered this crisis with heavenly polls grades, but is obviously vulnerable to reaction. Having centralized power for many years, he now seems to shift the burden of responsibility for dealing with Covid-19 to state governments.

The Indian disaster has worldly implications. In the West, there is still a tendency to treat a pandemic as a series of national crises in which states compete over who will deal better with the virus. But this is an interconnected global crisis. As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization puts it, Covid-19 is an international fire and “if you pipe only one part, the rest will burn”. Eventually, the fire will probably spread once more, flooding again in places that were thought to be extinguished.

There is already cause for concern that the UK has been too slow to introduce strictly quarantine measures for travelers coming from India. This is especially dangerous, given the phenomenon new variants virus in India which is perhaps more transmissible and resistant to vaccines.

The search for medical assistance to India is now both a humanitarian and a pragmatic need for the outside world, which is starting to to answer. For the United States, it may also be a geopolitical need, given that America considers India a key ally in its growing rivalry with China. So far, the Biden administration’s refusal to allow the urgent export of vaccines to India has fueled anti-American sentiment in the country, which may not be offset by fan air lifts and other equipment.

The outside world should also protect itself from the kind of complacency that was present in India until recently. The fact that the number of cases is falling and the vaccination rate in Britain could rise could easily create a dangerous relaxation, similar to the one India went through a few months ago. Recent article declared in The Times that “Britain could feel like paradise this summer.”

The lesson of India is to beware of premature celebration or arrogance. Any improvement in the coronavirus situation should be used as an opportunity to prepare for future waves and to help the international fight against the pandemic. India will not be the last country to witness the tragic resurgence of Covid-19.

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