Over the past few weeks the most pressing matter the government is trying to handle is the migrant crisis that has arisen out of this lockdown. It seems that the government advisory mechanism was caught off guarded over repercussions of this lockdown from the migrant perspective.
To the flocking of thousands of migrants at Delhi-Ghaziabad border, to the staging protest in Surat, Andhra border or at Bandra in Mumbai. People have been protesting to arrange the government for their return to their natives. While the government has been suggesting staying put wherever they are, respective state government have been arranging return of their citizens.
A quick survey of migrant’s shelters reveals the horror. The Delhi police survey report states to Indian Express (April 28), that fans are not working, no power backup, sanitization of toilets rarely done, most migrants want to leave as their families cannot survive, rude behavior of civil staff, pathetic quality of food, no hand wash and sanitizer, foul smells in toilet, water supply in toilets only between 7 to 11am, one soap for bathing and no detergent to was clothes, mosquito bites and so on. If these are the conditions of voluntary camps, don’t even imagine the conditions of quarantine camps where one have no option but to stay.
This lockdown has left the marginal section who barely are lifted out of poverty at the helm of going back to poverty. With no job, no food and no means to send remittances to their family, it is natural that one gets frustrated. The grim pictures of migrants cycling or walking back on foot along with small children thousands of kms paints the reality of this lockdown. Remember, the lives exist out of gated society as well. The truth is government is yet to figure out the assistance of this section, and assistance if received have benefited only few.
Once, these people go back and settle, the MSME’s will be the hardest hit, which are dependent on these workforces. Once stopped, it is no easy job to restart a business. Indian railways have set off across country to bring back home the stranded migrants and estimates that 500 such trains will be needed across 15 days to get the job done. The state of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have to huddle together as coordination with states are the major pain pointed out by the Railways. Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal are also in the line.
Once this exercise is over, the next challenge of the government is to kick start the economy and feed its jobless citizens, in a country where malnutrition is entrenched, especially among children, there is a danger of hunger becoming widespread too. We all have anecdotal evidence that families are going hungry and some are starving too. While you can have food given to you by government, one just cannot give up his dignity and have no job but just food to eat even if given free by the government. A human need is much more than just-food.
Where we read disturbing news of people committing suicide because he wasn’t able to feed his family during lockdown.
On the other hand, jewellers are forced to sell vegetables so that they can survive from the lockdown crisis.
This lockdown has brought in many perspectives that are happening in the world, brings out inherent human nature to the forefront and history will remember every action we as an individual, society or as a country do. Remember, the world will remember this. Our maiming by this virus has brought the finest and ugliest of us.
As the famous proverb goes, a small ant can make the elephant dance to its tune, the same has happened to us and actually we have been doing the same to mother nature as well. Just compare the size of an ant to elephant, virus to human and human to the size of the earth. Still !!!
The demand to hold China responsible for hiding facts and letting the world slip in this precarious situation is growing spearheaded by the US. Australia, Japan and some countries have joined the blame game. West Europe is still cautious due to many factors; however, East Europe is praising China for its help to them. India as a major stakeholder in world politics is as always diplomatic and cautious, a strategy which has worked for it most of the time.
From now on, countries will rally against China to disrupt the world order. We have realized that China under Xi Jinping is too authoritarian and is detrimental to global peace. While it gave the world a pandemic, due to its ruthless regime it was able to control it and now flexing its muscle in the south china sea, while the countries are a busy fighting virus. Same goes with its selling of PPE’s, faulty masks and test kits.
However, I don’t believe this is a society in general in China. Today its clout has helped saved itself from being penalized for such grievous and deliberate mistake and still covered up by WHO itself.
It got Pakistan the emergency bail-out package, and in repayment the very next day Pakistan blocked an area in the Arabian sea to test out anti-ship missile and armament testing, giving India a solid hint through Pakistan that it should not have suggested recasting of WHO.
We are still intrigued by why paradox has happened. West Europe and the US with great public health Infra saw high infection and death, and on the other hand South Asia somehow miraculously escaped the wrath of Virus.
India is a special case, rotting health infra, lack of doctors, not enough money, lack of protective equipment’s and many more and still, we showed the world, on why India’s frugal approach is efficient and effective.
Well, many factors are at play here.
Did universal BCG program help us?
As a population have our bodies developed a better defence against the virus as we are always exposed to the unhygienic situation?
Not sure enough. But what we know is that we implemented lockdown early, we gave priority to human lives rather than economy and we remained steadfast despite a lot of hurdles like religious gathering, attack of doctors and police, communalization and many more.
While the world is fighting for Ventilators, PPE’s, masks, we are doing our best by making some and importing some. Salute to ICMR, which quietly deviated from WHO guidelines and stood grounds on its plan.
The Economy is in shambles, the majority are losers, but some are winners as well. Radhakishan Damani, the owner of Avenue supermart running as D-Mart I believe should be the only winner in this lockdown where he gained from panic buying.
Let’s move from an individual perspective, we saw the Kirana store as the real winner brought to the forefront during these difficult times. E-commerce and supermarkets collapse suggest that slow and steady wins the race, and old is gold!! We will not be surprised to see now that manufacturers shifting gears towards channel programs benefiting these mom and pop stores. Remember, Kirana stores are much more street smart and ingenious, as another channel have too much dependency, be it delivering personal, corporate formulated protocols and supply chain or many more. We definitely will see a lot of behavioural change, government prioritizing public health spending, R&D spending and many more.
If you ever thought the defence sector is going to take a hit after this, you cannot be more wrong. We saw an increase in digital payments in some sectors which traditionally not have had much traction, maybe people will have some apprehension in exchanging cash for time to come.
We saw China’s opportunistic takeover and Gov. of India bringing new laws in FDI policy. If we look closely, everything is intertwined in itself. China increased its stake in HDFC and HDFC in Reliance Capital. Majority of investment in the digital industry can be traced back to one country. Guess who is the majority investor in Paytm?
Geo-politics and economy are intertwined in itself in this globalized world. Let’s analyze this correlation in major economies.
The US wants to maintain its supremacy and by attacking WHO, we know who it is attacking.
China recovered early and hence its economy is back on track, forcing the US to accept the deaths yet not slow down the economy. Japan, Germany, Australia coming together and trying to hold China responsible. India despite being in lockdown mode not leaving any stones unturned to make sure Its adjoining countries do not shift their gears again towards China and also use its soft power. Be it allowing exports of essential medicines like paracetamol and Hydroxichroloquine or donating to Nepal and Bangladesh.
RBI accepting Sri Lankan gov. offer of deposit as bonds. China flexing its muscle in South China sea and threatening Vietnam by allowing illegal fishing of Chinese fisherman backed by its navy in Vietnamese waters because it recently did an exercise with US Navy or making sure Pakistan gets emergency bailout and the very next day Pakistan testing missile and doing gunnery exercise, giving India direct message that it is not happy with India’s proposition in recasting WHO.
India bringing new FDI scrutiny to save itself from opportunistic takeovers yet government deliberately not falling into trap of blame game as it needs help from wherever possible. It remains to be seen how it handles again the 5G war which has again returned due to US and China strife. Major world power rushing to help Africa, not actual help but showdown to grab as much goodwill possible and remove China’s clout. Russia sending in planeloads of the mask and other essentials as a goodwill gesture to the US, and North Korea and Iran using this apt time to fire as many missiles as possible as the world is busy saving themselves.
Bringing forward these perspectives help us see through the prism that how we behaved during these times which will have major ramifications for the time to come.
The global confirmed cases of Coronavirus have now skyrocketed to 2,831,785 cases according to John Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre, with cases the in US and Italy outnumbering that of China. It has to be noted that it took just 1 day for the cases to increase by 0.1 million.
Confirmed cases in the US and Europe are spreading like wildfire and there seems to be no stopping to it. India which has 24000+ confirmed cases as of now is bracing for much more as the rate of testing has been increased by the government. United States, Italy and Spain are reeling under the pain of the loss of lives.
The US has passed a bill of the record $2.2 trillion to fight this, with confirmed cases surpassed 5,61,103 and around 22106 deaths.
Current cases in India as per today’s statistics is 24000+ Out of which, 5,063 have recovered.
India extended the lockdown, yet the upcoming news shows very clearly that it could have been implemented much better also it might extend.
Migrants flocking in thousands at bus terminals, having been walked for days to reach bus stands, some being run over by Trucks on road, dying of exhaustion as they walk all the way hundreds of kilometres to their natives and some surviving only on biscuits and water due to this lockdown.
The gathering of people in such large numbers, cramped in spaces and sent back to their natives such as Bihar, UP, MP and Rajasthan defeats the purpose of lockdown and increases the risk of even wider spread in states where health infrastructure is already in a dismal state. The government in the meanwhile issued numerous statements ranging from Bihar government to establish shelters over other states to Delhi government saying all migrants in Delhi are Delhiites and it is their responsibility, yet not an iota of any actions was taken. In the meantime, we see Indian again resorting to frugal yet efficient methods of combating like trains being converted to makeshift quarantine field hospitals.
This Sunday, a group of Nihangs chopped off the hand of a police officer Harjeet Singh who is an assistant sub-Inspector, injuring 3 others policemen as well.
It took 7.5 hours of plastic surgery and successfully the doctors reattached his hand. Again our doctors proved that they are the superheroes and God.
People have tweeted their opinions in this case.
Sunday’s incident of lawlessness can be attributed to the fact that the Nihangs only wish to follow orders of the Guru and perhaps consider orders from the administration an attack on their sovereignty, a scholar said.
The world is scrambling to find a cure, economies are in a dismal state, destitute having faced double whip of loss of jobs and no access to food and water. This virus does not differentiate between your economic status or stature and has not spared even the Prince and the Prime minister of Britain. The good news is that he is recovering.
The incident of Tablighi Jamaat and later on gave the pandemic a new turn in India is Communavirus. When the World is only dealing with Coronavirus, we are actually dealing with communalism and novel COVID-19 at the same time along with poverty, low economy and lots more.
The world already started to ask questions to the director-general of WHO – Dr Tedros.
The US has directly blamed the WHO of siding with China.
China controls many votes in WHO due to its political relations with many countries who are almost dependent on China for its economic, military and political reasons.
Why has not WHO, not for a single time mentioned the root cause of these viruses again emanating from these wet markets, which has been called my many institutions, research and even by Chinese citizens to be banned?
Times have changed, and the truth is between 2002-03 and 2020, China is much bigger power, and the US is now a much lesser one. There were many warnings on these Wet markets on the basis of research of WHO itself as early as 2018 on the threat of new coronaviruses emanating from these places threatening the world as global pandemic.
What is funny that until Jan 23, WHO tweeted that there is no human to human transmission despite the fact that a Chinese epidemiologist Dr. Zhong Nanshan on Jan 20 made a statement that actually human to human transmission is possible. Note that Wuhan went on lockdown on Jan23.!!
Dr. Tedros himself went to China to check the facts twice, yet he found nothing wrong and in-fact praised Xi Jinping. It’s a slap in the face of humanity who rely on these institutions.
Now all this is coming back to haunt Dr. Tedros and his credibility, with demands growing for his resignation. If China found human to human transmission, why did it not inform the world pre-hand. It seems that WHO is caught in an awful situation of what science dictates and a powerful country. He came back and praised China of identifying the virus in record time. Great!! What do I do of it? The ill-informed world kept on travelling to and fro from China and especially to Wuhan which is the size and population of the likes of Delhi and Mumbai.
Speaking of dying, A German finance minister committed suicide due to financial implications arising out of this virus, global confirmed death has crossed 51,299(as per the updated report). Deaths in India due to this has crossed 53, and we all are bracing for much more.
In these grim situations, we as humans should maintain the ethos of humanity and help those in needs as much as possible.
Numerous countries have returned Chinese masks and protective gears claiming it to be of sub-standard quality.
In the meantime, many countries discussed better control over biological weapons and Coronavirus was mention, giving it significant traction.
It is to be noted that WHO in the reform of 2005 has the power to act on it, over questioning the states on cover-up and it can declare an international emergency even in the face of opposition, yet it did not choose to exercise them.
China, we see has become very powerful in the UN and it has the means to silence even large global institutions. It brings in money, jobs and Infrastructure. Case in point is WHO and China becoming partner in OBOR. (One Belt One Road). It is evident that there is a problem in the UN which has come out in open. China, we all know is an authoritarian state and its citizens have no right to dissent. Very bad things can happen to you if you write anything criticising the Government. To me this seems to be the mother of all problems.
A group of researchers already raised red flag saying that such an outbreak is imminent and when a new case of pneumonia came up and it did not respond to normal medicines, and a group of 8 doctors researched it and raised the alarm. A normal democratic country would have taken this seriously and sent out a larger research team. However, this is China, instead they send police to silence them, government mouthpiece started criticising them and making fun of them, until the first of those doctor’s Li Wenliang contracted the disease himself and died raising criticism from the citizens.
While the government is taking it steps to arrest this infection by taking measures never done before like ordering all bodies to be cremated irrespective of religion, which was withdrawn later.
Many responsible citizens are also coming up and helping the people in need.
I see people with reach and means helping the needy, and some common people as well doing their part with whatever capacities they have.
In these grim situations, we as humans should maintain the ethos of humanity and help those in needs as much as possible.
World is gasping due to shortage of ventilators, businesses rapidly trying to develop prototype, noted personalities pledging and donating. Brazil reluctant to close business as usual saying we cannot stop people from dying, but business has to continue, Italy having worlds 2nd best health infrastructure lost to this virus. Spain, France and the entire Europe over-burdened, cases in the US already surpassed that of China and Italy, and experts fearing a much wider and harrowing situations if this outbreak engulfs Africa. Almost more than half of global human population under lockdown and now entire humanity confounded as China goes back to its normal business.
In these situations, we are bound to contemplate as what are our global response bodies that is World health organisation (WHO) which is definitely one of the reputable UN institution in the world is doing over it. The world has started to ask question as well. The person specifically in question is the director general of WHO – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is an Ethiopian health minister.
It has put the reputation of WHO on the line. There is a lot of criticism over how it has handled this pandemic and also in India over how it is handling the crisis. It does seem that it took too long reacting and it gave China a long pass. It does seem that it was in denial for a long time not accepting that it was a growing pandemic. In-fact it took too long even accepting that human to human transmission of this virus was possible. It was giving certificates of good conduct and in-fact speaking of China in glowing terms. Even until the end of January it was criticising countries such as the US for imposing travel bans on China. And now too add dollops of insult to injury, the director general of WHO is now lecturing the whole world and even admonishing them that quarantines will not work, you have to attack the virus, countries are not doing their homework, and test, test and test!!!
What are you doing during these trying times Doctor???
In-fact at the G20 virtual summit, Indian prime minister suggested in diplomatic way that WHO needs recasting. Other countries have not been so subtle, the US has directly blamed WHO of siding with China. It seems like WHO has not been able to come out of the never-ending conflict of maintaining a balance between the Geo-politics of the world. Earlier it was cold war of USSR and the US, then a unipolar world of USA, now a Bi-polar world of US and China. Many senators although only Republican have said that under Dr. Tedros, WHO has become mouthpiece of China, that it has let down the world and it is too weak kneed in dealing with China.
We know that WHO DG is selected basis the vote of health ministers of member countries. China controls many votes in WHO due to its political relations with many countries who are almost dependent on China for its economic, military and political reasons. Dr Tedros has also been accused of hiding the two Cholera outbreak in his country of Ethiopia itself.
We need to note that WHO was very critical of China under the leadership of 3-time former Prime Minister of Norway Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland when the SARS outbreak happened in 2002-03. It called out China for not acting fast enough, for wild animals in wet markets of China who were reservoirs of these Coronaviruses. In-fact it is due to that criticism China has to fire its health minister and Beijing mayor.
AWhy has not WHO, not for a single time mentioned the root cause of these viruses again emanating from these wet markets, which has been called my many institutions, research and even by Chinese citizens to be banned. This is despite the fact that Wet markets were banned during SARS outbreak and the world allowed it to be started again.
Continue reading this analysis further over my next blog as we all seek answers from those who are responsible…