As February was approaching its end, many health specialists including epidemologists were expecting a second wave of coronavirus cases. One of them, Dr V Subramanian who is infectious diseases specialist at Apollo Hospital said that “It (second wave of covid) will come to India too, but will be milder and hopefully fizzle out faster than the first wave.”
Unfortunately, second wave has been anything but milder as was expected. Experts failed to predict severity of this wave because there were three major reasons which caused a spike in daily covid cases. If the government wanted then it could have dealt with these major causes and covid cases count would have been much lower and probably along the lines of numbers predicted by experts.
- Kumbh Mela: Government data states that around 91 lakh people participated in Mahakumbh in Haridwar from 14 January to 27 April. A majority of these people i.e., 60 lakh congregated in April when the nation was going through a deadly second wave of coronavirus. On 12 April, around 35 lakh people gathered for Somvati Amavasya holy dip.
No matter how much government authorities claim that all SOPs were followed during these massive congregations, any person with an IQ level in double digits would know about veracity of these tall claims. How is it possible that covid guidelines were followed while lakhs of people were taking collective baths? Were these people putting on masks and maintaining social distancing while taking “holy dips”? It is even ridiculous to expect that guidelines would be followed in such an environment.
A minimum of 100 seers were found to be covid positive and four of them lost their lives because of the Chinese virus. People from across the nation participated in Kumbh Mela. Not only would have these people infected themselves but also carried the virus to their hometowns. Rather than discouraging people to attend Maha Kumbh, government was rather encouraging people. Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat said, “I invite all devotees across the world to come to Haridwar and take a holy dip in the Ganga during Mahakumbh. Nobody will be stopped in the name of Covid-19 as we are sure the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”
2. Farmers’ Protest: Tens of thousands of farmers have gathered in Delhi borders with demands to take down three agriculture reform bills passed by the Central government. These farmers have been protesting since end of last year. Since such a large amount of people have gathered, it is obvious that coronavirus will find a home among these farmers. Unfortunately, farmers have been reluctant in putting off this protest due to pandemic so far. Many of them even believe that coronavirus is Modi government’s conspiracy to end their protest. Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said on Thursday (29 April) that they will not take down their protest.
I have reasons to believe that what has been presented as a genuine farmers’ protest is nothing but a conglomeration of Sikhs who want to flex their muscles with blind-modi haters who have criticism scripts ready even before BJP government issues a press release. Still, they all have rights to protest in a democratic nation like ours. However, this right to protest should have been snatched just like other basic rights of people have been cancelled through lockdown to deal with this pandemic.
3. Political Rallies: Assembly elections took place in four states (West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam) and one Union Territory (Puducherry). Numerous political rallies were held in these states by various leaders of different parties. A legitimate question must be raised that why these elections were not postponed for a couple of months? If it was not possible to postpone then atleast a ban could be imposed on rallies and online campaigning could be promoted.
Unfortunately, none of this happened. Political leaders shamelessly kept on boasting about large number of people attending their rallies while covid numbers consistently increased.
If Government would have postponed elections, restricted general public from attending Kumbh Mela and dispersed farmer protestors in Delhi borders then covid numbers would not be probably as scary as they are now. However, doing so would have ensured a strong opposition from people (especially Hindus and Sikhs) which power hungry politicians could not afford even if people die struggling for oxygen.