Covid-19 Management in India: Lok Sabha Discussion on December 2, 2021

For India’s 139 crore population, Covid is not merely a pandemic. Instead, it is something that every citizen has experienced or suffered in some way or the other. This discussion on Covid is important because we have seen the sufferings caused by Covid in our families, villages and constituencies. Yet even during this time of pain, the Government has forgotten the state that our country was in during the second wave. The government seems to have forgotten the fear among our senior citizens and other dear ones. By letting its guard down in the fight against Covid, the Government is sending out the wrong message to its citizens. I remember PM Modi’s words in January 2021 that India has conquered the fight against Covid. We all know what happened after that.

Orphaned Children: I think of all the children who were orphaned during the pandemic and am at a loss for words to describe their pain. Does the Ministry of Women and Child Development have any data on how many women and children contacted their helpline during the pandemic and lockdown, and what action was taken in this regard?

Hunger, Wasting and Anaemia: The Global Hunger Index 2021 ranked India at 101. The National Family Health Survey has found that anemia and extreme wasting is rampant among children. The Government’s data is counter to the claims made by the ruling disposition that there is no hunger or wasting in the country.

Persons with Disabilities: The Government should disclose data on how many children with disability attended online schooling and how many persons with disability received ration s through the PDS system in the last two years.

Rahul Gandhi’s warnings: In 2020 February, Rahul Gandhi warned the Government against Covid. Yet the Government paid no heed. In 2020 September, he asked that vaccine development be initiated. The Government sold what vaccines we had to other countries, facing serious lacks when it was time to vaccinate our citizens. Warnings against the pandemic’s effects on the economy also fell on deaf ears. A look at our villages will show how much unemployment has worsened due to the pandemic.

Scarcity of resources: Government hospitals were unable to supply the necessary ventilators, oxygen cylinders, medicines and even doctors. The scarcity was so severe that we had to source them from abroad. Why wasn’t this situation foreseen and necessary preparations made? No one will ever forget the corpses that rose in the Ganga, no one will forget the children who had to stand watch as their parents died gasping for air.

Tax the rich, not the poor: Our brethren have lost jobs and slipped into poverty. Yet the Government added fuel to the fire by increasing LPG and petroleum prices. The country saw a very real scarcity for ventilators. There is present a black market in the country. While the Government has sufficient money for completing its Central Vista project, it says there are no funds to help the poor citizens of the country. Doesn’t the Government have four lakhs to help the kin of those who died in the pandemic? If the Government was so strapped for cash, why didn’t the Government ask the rich corporates or public sector banks? Instead, the government chose to tax the poor farmers to fund its vaccine drives.

Unrecorded Covid deaths: The portal of the National Family Health shows that May 2021 recorded 3 lakhs extra deaths when compared to May 2020. Yet our Covid deaths seem mysteriously low. Do the common people not have the right to know the truth?

Vaccination: Even vaccination has been outsourced and privatized in this country today. Does the Government have data on the doses administered by private hospitals? Does the Government have data on how much was unutilized of the 25% that was allotted to private hospitals? The Government is yet to device a booster dose policy. Neither is there a thought on vaccines for children. There has no action to reduce the gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccines. The Government increased the vaccine administration on the PM Modi’s birthday, but on the days leading up to it and the days after it, there was a severe fall in the number of doses administered. Why is the Government allowing these ups and downs in its vaccination drive? Our vaccine certificates have the PM’s photo. No other country has done this. When we defeated polio as a country, no single leader rushed to take the entire credit.

Plight of first-line workers: Has the Government given any thought to the travails of ASHA workers and other first-line workers involved in the fight against Covid? Has the Government considered raising the pay for ASHA workers at least during the pandemic months?

Areas requiring Government intervention: Looking at the economic recovery, one cannot turn a blind eye to the informal sector. The rich have become richer at the expense of the poor who became poorer. We have learned that our Primary Health Centers are strapped for resources. We have learned that our poor students couldn’t access online education as they did not possess electronic devices.

The Government is actively conducting various media campaigns in the country. While such campaigns are helpful in reaching a large audience, the Government needs to be cautious to spread not lies but only the truth. It is not the signs of a good leadership when a government rushes to take credit for all the gains and shies away from any blames for its shortcomings.

Published by mpgauravgogoi

Member of Parliament, Kaliabor Lok Sabha.

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