Translated article from Norwegian newspaper on April 24th 2021 about the covid-19 situation in India
People in India are fleeing the cities as the infection rates in the country is skyrocketing:
The authorities have failed
BAD: The hospitals are overcrowded and the poor are starving to death. People in New Delhi believe the tragedy was politically created.
Corona infection is rising sharply in India. Thursday's infection rate (22.04.2021) - 312,731 newly infected - broke the previous dismal record from the United States of just over 300,000 newly infected on 8 January. Yesterday, the record was broken with 332,730 infected, according to Indian authorities.
The situation is completely out of control, and the health system has completely collapsed. The country is gasping for breath, and the authorities have failed, say people in India.
The son of a friend died yesterday, 33 years old. There was no oxygen to get. In hospitals, there are sometimes two or three people in each bed, and sick people lie on the sidewalks outside the hospitals.
Trying to help
Together with women from the brothel district of Mumbai, Ruchira Gupta founded the organization Aapne Aap in 2002. They work to combat human trafficking and help prostitutes with vocational training, income-generating work and schooling for their children. Aapne Aap conducts relief work throughout India, and must now increasingly concentrate on just keeping people alive.
The pandemic has made Gupta the administrator of a large distribution chain of food to people in the prostitution areas.
The last time the newspaper spoke to her, in May last year, she said that she started making relief packages after receiving emergency calls from all over the country.
India and Covid-19:
- • India has 1.3 billion inhabitants (estimated as of July 2020).
- • 79.8 per cent are Hindus, 14.2 per cent Muslims, 2.3 per cent Christians and 1.7 per cent Sikhs.
- • The country is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party BJP.
- • Corona infection has increased sharply since February and yesterday, according to official figures, was over 330,000 new cases of infection per day.
- • Yesterday was the second day in a row that India had the world's highest increase in infection per day.
- • There is also growing concern that new virus mutations are more contagious.
- • As of 21 April, India had only vaccinated 9.5 per cent with dose one and 1.5 per cent with dose two.
Sources: CIA, CNBC, WHO and others
Now it's even worse. They have had to scale up from helping 10,000 to 50,000 with food. Children they have managed to get into boarding schools are thrown out when the schools close and return to the prostitution area, where they receive neither care, food, fresh air or education.
Children take care of children. I get desperate messages from girls asking for help with food and to get out of the prostitution areas, where they often live in miserable conditions in rooms without windows. The pandemic hits the weakest hard, says sources in India.
The second wave is hitting
India is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party BJP. When the government closed the country on March 24 last year, a march started from the cities, where millions of poor workers went to their home villages on foot. According to The New York Times, this was the largest migration of people on the Indian continent since 1947.
The journey home was brutal. Many walked in the heat, and hundreds died on the road. Many also brought corona infection home.
A new emigration from the cities is now underway, and also this time people travel because they lose their livelihood and go home to the village to get food.
I fjor sommer ble noen restriksjoner lettet, men i høst steg smitten igjen og var oppe i 100.000 daglige tilfeller. På slutten av 2020 og starten av 2021 roet situasjonen seg noe, før smitten igjen økte kraftig fra februar.
So now the infection is skyrocketing again, and India is kneeling in its second big wave.
The crematoriums are struggling with long queues. Sources says that people have to wait in heat and risk of infection for eight to ten hours to get their dead cremated.
Experts also fear that a new, more contagious mutation is coming. The New York Times writes that experts believe in further deterioration over the next two weeks, before it will calm down again.
Politically controlled crisis
Sources in India points finger at Modi and his government.
This is a man-made, politically controlled crisis. When the pandemic hit last year, we understood that it came unexpectedly, and that it would take time to get things in place. But now they have had a year to build up the health service, provide more hospital beds, vaccines, oxygen and health personnel. It is unforgivable that they have not done so, sources says.
Many people in India believes that the authorities have treated the pandemic as "a law-and-order problem rather than a health crisis": They have cracked down on protests and hit the poor by closing shops and transport.
Now people have used up all the resources and are desperate. Every single day now many people are getting panic messages from people begging for help with food. They are ashamed, and so are most of us, Indian says. It is a loss of dignity on both sides. We’re not giving up, but we’re getting tired from this, sources in India says. And so many people are now spending a day writing condolence cards.
“Children take care of children. I get desperate messages from girls asking for help with food and to get out of the prostitution areas, where they often live in miserable conditions in rooms without windows »
RACHIRA GUPTA, FOUNDER OF THE AAPNE AAP ORGANIZATION
So many people in India are upset that the country has not come any further with the vaccine rollout. Only 9.5 percent have received the first dose of coronary vaccine.
If everyone had been vaccinated, we would have reduced the death toll. India has had excellent vaccination programs and has almost eradicated polio. We have infrastructure for vaccination campaigns, but not political will. I fear that millions will die of starvation or covid-19 before we get herd immunity, says one expert.
Hindu nationalism and hunger
There have been several elections at the state level this spring, where BJP has been fighting for the positions. And while the government has cracked down hard on demonstrations, they have let big election campaign events go their way.
The fact that the government allowed the big religious festival Kumbh Mela in the city of Haridwar in April has also received widespread criticism. Hindus come there to take a ritual bath in the river Ganges, and the BBC writes that millions gathered there this year. Pictures from the festival show people like herring in a barrel by the river.
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