There is death and devastation all over the country following the complete breakdown of whatever health care system that existed.
Over the past few weeks, the Corona Pandemic has spread like wildfire. Thousands of extremely sick people, unable to breathe, are being rushed desperately to hospitals by their near and dear ones. The hospitals are full to overflowing. Patients are turned away at the gates, asked to search for other hospitals. Many die trying to find a hospital. Others die in the corridors of hospitals.
There are healthcare shortages everywhere. There are no empty beds available in the hospitals — no ICU beds, beds with oxygen, or even simple beds. Medicines prescribed by doctors are not available in the market and there is a roaring black market in medicines. The ambulance services have been stretched to the limit. Cremation and burial grounds have long waiting lines. Reports have been coming in from Delhi and other cities of mass cremations, and of shortage of firewood for cremations. Phone calls, social media posts and WhatsApp lines are flooded with requests from people desperately hoping that someone can help their critically ill friends or relatives. Healthcare workers are exhausted and feel helpless.
The health care system in our towns and villages, which is pathetic at the best of times, has now completely collapsed.
The central government is entirely responsible for this terrible situation. When the government declared lockdown fourteen months ago in March 2020, it declared that it wanted to prepare the health care system to be able to deal with a pandemic. In January 2021, Prime Minister Modi called upon other countries of the world to learn from India how to deal with the pandemic!
On the ground, none of the recommendations of even its own health care experts have been implemented by the government. These expert committees predicted that there would be several waves of the pandemic, before a cure was found or the majority of people were vaccinated. They recommended setting up of oxygen plants more than one year ago. Nothing was done to implement this.
Each day brings fresh stories of untold human suffering and painful deaths. Private hospitals have used this condition of scarcity of available hospital beds and oxygen supply to mint huge amounts of money by charging exorbitant rates for whatever services they are able to provide. Patients are forced to pay out huge sums to buy from outside the supplies and services the hospital is unable to give. The supply of oxygen cylinders has been turned into a profiteering racket for the supply companies, with patients having to pay heavily for the much needed supply, if it is available at all.
Ensuring the profits of monopoly capitalists, pharma companies, private hospitals, and vaccine manufacturing companies and keeping up an international image of “efficient management” has been the major preoccupation of the Indian state. People are seeing through the lies of the government’s propaganda and have lost faith in the authorities.
People have taken to social media to expose the crimes of the authorities and the misinformation spread by the official channels. They are being persecuted by the authorities for doing so. In UP, the Chief Minister has openly threatened hospitals who report shortages of ICU beds, oxygen and other supplies, that stern action will be taken against them. Patients and their families, who have posted reports on social media, of shortages in medical supplies and services, have been persecuted. Journalists have been threatened and intimated in various parts of the country, for reporting on the tragic Covid deaths due to the collapse of the health care system and the callous indifference of the authorities.
The center and various opposition ruled state governments have been busy blaming each other for the terrible situation, even while each of them is trying to cover up its own crimes. Just two months back, the same governments were patting themselves on the back, claiming credit for allegedly having taken measures that had resulted in reducing the number of hospitalisations and deaths in their states. This shows that neither the central government, nor state governments were ever seriously concerned with addressing the problems facing the health care system in our country.
When the Covid Pandemic broke out in March 2020, it was abundantly clear that India needed to establish and strengthen a universal public health care system to deal with such a situation. The urgent necessity of setting up such a system has gone completely unheeded by the central government. Our rulers were more interested in ensuring maximum profits for the big corporate houses, taking advantage of the pandemic and miseries of the people, rather than implementing measures that would safeguard society from the devastating consequences of such a pandemic. They used the curbs on public protests to pass laws further restricting the rights of workers, opening up the agriculture sector to the Indian and foreign corporate houses and thus ensuring even more opportunities for the corporate houses to multiply their profits through intensified exploitation of the land, labour and natural resources of our people. The PM even publicly “advised” the big corporate houses to “turn the crisis into an opportunity”!
The covid pandemic drives home the reality that the existing capitalist system is an utterly inhuman system. The Indian state defends this inhuman system. Its main aim is to keep enriching the Indian and foreign monopoly corporate houses at the cost of millions of human lives. The capitalist class that rules our country, and the governments that work to fulfill the agenda of the biggest capitalist monopolies, are incapable of solving the problems facing the millions of toiling people in society. The ruling capitalist class is driven solely by its outlook of how to use the human crisis to maximise its profits. The Covid pandemic is proving once again that the capitalist class is unfit to rule. This capitalist system can only lead human society towards greater and greater disasters.