Showing posts with label Corona Virus Outbreak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corona Virus Outbreak. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Stick No Posters

Let me be the first to call it - This is a modern tragedy of biblical proportions.

No, we aren't talking about the Coronavirus. I feel we are all talking about the virus a little too much while being distracted about the real pandemic in our lives - Corporate greed and Political apathy.

A year ago, as governments scrambled to contain the virus and contain us without our homes or in the case of India, throw millions of migrants out of their urban homes, we didn't flinch. 

If you haven't realized it, this is a Global War. Countries around the world have lost lakhs of citizens. If this were an armed conflict, people would have been outraged. We would have been on the streets campaigning and baying for the blood of our governments for their apathy. We would not have rested until the system changed. 

If this was a Hollywood movie, the American protagonist would have rolled out the big guns and then some to bring democracy and world peace. If this was a Bollywood movie, Salman Khan would have beaten the virus so badly the virus will need a vaccine. And he would have done all this while prancing around an actress 40 years younger. 

But what did we end up doing? 

We made tik-tok challenges and memes. 

We started having sports events with no spectators. 

We started making masks fashion statements.

And the enterprising amongst us made a yacht full of money. A few made their billions staking their millions on the coronavirus. As pharma, cryptocurrency, and IT stocks continue to make people rich, there is very little doubt there is money to be made out of misery, as long as you play your cards right.

When the dust began to settle down, our politicians did what mattered to them - Consolidate power.

A year ago, our PM shut down the country in the only way he knew - Primetime television with just 4 hours' notice. What ensued was a crisis the PM is still in denial about. 

Today, when we are losing 10000s of people a day, you'd think we've learned our lesson.

The short answer is - No.

The long answer is - We are so effing tired of the way our politicians have been governing us for the last many years. To be fair, it's been a very long time since any of our politicians had to deal with such shit. Barring Indira Gandhi, no other politician has had the cajones to handle a crisis like this. So Modi brought this upon himself. He never realized he could get effed over by nature. Or complacence, or even arrogance. 

We are so tired of the way our government doesn't make decisions based on science, facts, and rationality but instead based on how they perceive their ratings or a chance to remain in power will be. As politicians play roulette with our hope, we have lost the patience to listen. We don't want to clap our hands, turn off the lights, or clang vessels anymore. We don't want catchphrases, hashtags, and your bearded portraits in every government advertisement. 

We want our old normal back. We want our loved ones alive. We want you to vaccinate us, all of us soon.

We don't want to be discriminated against because of who we worship. We hated it when you targeted the few hundreds who attended the Tablighi Jamaat last year. It was a manhunt of epic proportions. The islamophobic amongst us refused to accept food when it was delivered by a Muslim man. We hate it when you allowed the Kumbh Mela to happen. We hate it that this led to 10000s of people getting infected and dying. We hate it that you restricted Muslims from celebrating iftaar during Ramzaan but had no qualms allowing 1000s on the Amarnath Yatra. 

We hated it when Manmohan Singh would speak so less. We hate it when you don't speak to us except when you need us. We hate it that you allowed rallies by the 1000s even when the second wave was well in. We hate that you'll probably not remember this tragedy and allow this to repeat in a few months.

We hate it that you are riled by posters (and people) that are critical of your governance. We hate it that you can't take criticism - even when it is entirely justified.

We hate it that you had several months to rebuild what was necessary and important but instead chose to sit back and do nothing. We hate it that you promised us and gloated to the world about how we are the Pharmacy to the world. We hate it that you didn't think of buying enough vaccines for all of us even as you launched the World's Largest Vaccination Drive. Sure, everyone loves a good hashtag. But not accounting for or even ordering for the number of vaccines makes it look like you didn't think this all the way through. I mean what kind of miracle did you think would happen when you innoculate just 3% of your country's population (as of 18th May 2021)? 

Come to think of it, our current administration is like an underachieving hormonal teenager. They love to dream big and fantasize about the mystical. Filled with untapped potential, they love to plan. But that's all they do. Once the fanfare and the applause die, and when they think about the hard work that lies ahead, they abandon ship to move on to the next big thing. Repeat cycle. But there is a glimmer of hope - if there is one thing that gets them to their knees, it is election time. Like a sex-craved teenager that can't think of anything else but satiating his own lust, politicians from our current administration will hug you, kiss you, court you, and make sweet sweet love to you. The rape begins once they've been voted to power. They will pit you against your neighbor and the neighbor's dog. All this to satiate their lust for unimaginable wealth that comes with power. Whoever thinks India is poor surely doesn't have a clue about the unaccounted wealth of our politicians and their sugar daddies. 

But that doesn't mean the opposition is any better. They just had it lucky. 

We hate it that we have to keep wondering about our government's strategy to govern. Motormouth politicians that live in denial want to say things are under control and that we can finally get to business. But we know that's not going to happen anytime soon. We are to blame too and we hate that too. We are too weak to get out to the streets and fight for a change and the easiest thing to do is to look the other way and continue mumbling under our breaths while living whatever subsistence of a life we can afford.       

We hate it that billions of dollars worth of aid and equipment from around the world lie at airports and seaports around the country just because our government banned foreign aid - in the middle of the pandemic last year. Surely, news of this apathy won't reach the ears and eyes of the millions of people and dozens of governments that donated generously to the Pharmacy of the World. We hate that you played vaccine diplomacy by shipping millions of vaccines to other countries while not ensuring we had enough for ourselves.
It's basic math, Mr. PM - 1.2 billion people need 2.4 billion vaccines. 

Today, as many countries in the West have figured out their strategy to fight, we are still floundering, badly. Our PM is MIA while we are dealing with a crisis of governance or the lack of it. 

As I read and hear about our government's reactive strategy that appears to mutate faster than the virus, I am sure there must be a Shakesperean play about this, or maybe we need to create one. Personally, I think the folktale of the Emperor's new clothes is the closest that fits. 

As our government stumbles from one grave milestone to another, my only hope is that months or years from now, we'll remember this - as the monumental fuckup that it is and hold the people accountable for this and make them pay. Not by jail terms. That's too mild. But by throwing them out of power and keeping them there. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

What about his silence!

What is that they say about silence? Silence is golden, right?

Probably, the reason our Honourable Prime Minister is silent. 
While people die outside of his privileged sanctum of calm and health, Mr. Modi is conspicuously silent. 

He probably doesn't have much to say. 
Or maybe he does, but he doesn't need to say it. 
Or maybe he does need to say but doesn't know how to say it. 
Or maybe he knows how to say it but doesn't know why he needs to say it now. 

The dead aren't helpful to him anymore anyway. 
The seriously ill will never live long enough to vote and is thus not helpful to him either.

The ones living in fear of getting sucked into the vortex of government apathy and corporate greed will forget in time for the next elections. One biriyani and liquor combo lunch with Rs 500/- will guarantee their votes.
The rich will flee to their cocooned fortresses and ride out the crest. 
The poor will rather die asphyxiated than of starvation.
This leaves 4% of taxpayers (aka the middle class) to bear the brunt. Like rats in a sinking ship, we scurry from hospitals to oxygen-filing centers in search of life. 
The dead will cremate themselves or be thrown into the Ganges.

Like sheep in a fold surrounded by ravenous wolves and vultures, we will continue to live in fear that jumps a notch every time we hear of another sheep who succumbed. 
The intellectual amongst will analyze the reason why the fellow sheep died. Maybe that sheep was careless. Two days later, all is forgotten until the next casualty. 
Repeat cycle of fear and paranoia.

As our reputation of having mediocre standards of excellence, our standards of governance lack as well. 
We can't elect the right leaders, and we can't hold them to account.

We love fiction. We love being the victim. Many of us still wear the colonial hangover like a thong of pride. Recently, a friend forwarded a message that pinned the coronavirus's blame on China and how they have weaponized the virus to 'take India down.' Really?! Anyone, just anyone, who's been to China will testify that China on its worse day is still a decade ahead of India in infrastructure and progress.
Too often, when people are in trouble, they look for scapegoats.

What the US lacks in credibility, they make up in brute force media-power. 
A recent article that said the US already knew of China's intention to weaponize the virus back in 2015 proved our conspiracy theories true.
If they knew about this ahead of time, it is a crime beyond belief that they didn't take the proper steps before millions of their own died a needless and completely avoidable tragedy. 
But then the US has a reputation of constructing 'evidence' when they want to prove their allegations. Case in point - Colin Powel and the Bush administration alleged Iraq had WMDs just to invade the country and stake claims on their oil fields and a consumer of their weapons industry. We all know how that went. The WMDs were just a smokescreen. 

Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring going, these are the features that constitute the endless repetition of history. 

The policies of our administration appear reactive instead of responsive. Our federal government can't figure out what needs to be done first and what needs to be done timely. Resigned to this fact, our country is now in the middle of what appears to be federal stubbornness and State confusion. The truth of the adage 'Better sooner than later' is lost on our administrator.

When the Prime Minister and his administration should have augmented our healthcare infrastructure, they sat on the sidelines watching other countries manage their second wave and did nothing. But it's not because we had nothing to do. Modi and his gang were busy fighting for elections in the 3 crucial States. They boasted of massive rallies as masses of their supporters (paid or otherwise) congregated - throwing all semblance of social distancing, often without masks. 
The Election Commission and the rest of India watched aghast. The EC because there is precious little they can do anymore. The people because they can't do anything but to survive and hope they aren't going to die in a few months.

When our Prime Minister and his administration should be building confidence and access to vaccination, they played the desi card - by prematurely announcing Covaxin. Even when we had the time to create an infrastructure to vaccinate and ensure our nation had enough supplies, we did nothing. We simply sat with our arms folded. I blame our government for its misguided priorities. 
It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary. 

At a time when our country is in the news across the world for the fuck-fisted way our government is handling the pandemic and beating records of the dead, our administration is busy building its new parliament. Surely, development should not stop, and the government has a plan in place for the Central Vista project. Indeed, this is nothing but a pissing contest to prove we have a better house. But how can you raise a toast and pretend it's business as usual when there is a crisis in your own backyard. How can a government that couldn't afford to buy enough vaccines for its own citizens spend $6 billion to build a newer, swankier place for our esteemed and privileged class of citizens to live and work? If only the government spent more money to buy the vaccines, we could have ensured every resident would be inoculated twice at just $ 13 million. Alas, priorities!
Governments have a tendency not to solve problems, only to rearrange them. 

When our country is being ravaged by a virus, we are yet to hear Modi's Mann ki Baat. As the broad-chested leader of men, our bearded first citizen needs to talk to us. He needs to speak to each of us - tell us what he plans to do and how he'll do it and how soon he plans on doing it. 
The last time we heard him speak was at campaign rallies where he predicted electoral success. He appears to talk to us only when he wants us. Only when he wants us to vote for him and his party. 
Our prime minister appears to go into a maun vrat every time the country is in trouble. Like a petulant teenager giving his parents the silent treatment, he talks only through his administration—every minister echoing his flavor of governance with no apparent sense of direction or purpose. 
Blaming is so much easier than taking responsibility because if you take responsibility, then you might be to blame. 

What needs to be done quickly and first The present state of affairs as it stands is that of an economy nose-diving under the wake of a virus that our government neither understands nor is willing to tackle proactively. Our administration has resorted to 'what-aboutism' to camouflage its failure. As hundreds of myths and half-truths about the virus and infections circulate, our government appears to not want to do anything about the misinformation. Say something against the government, and you'll be taken down - swiftly.
It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts.

When funeral pyres and crematoriums are working round the clock across the country, our official statistics say we are only losing 3000 people a day. If you're one of those millions who believe this number, you haven't visited your local crematorium yet. Not surprising because our government isn't wet behind the ears when it comes to fudging the truth and cooking books. Giving the actual numbers will alarm the world. Who really wants to do that?!
Everything was perfectly healthy and normal here in Denial Town.

As infections will begin to plateau in States, as the virus runs out of steam as it always does, our government will put its feet up and take a power nap and wake up just before they crank up their polls plans to win Uttar Pradesh in eight months. 

Chances are, we all know someone we have lost to Corona. Remember, this was an entirely avoidable loss. Undoubtedly, experts predicted we'd have another wave last year. Remember, we had the time to prepare, innoculate, and brace for impact. We didn't. 
Undoubtedly, the government can't be expected to do everything. But that's the reason why we elect them - so that they can counsel the brightest minds, best strategists, and policy-makers and guide us with wisdom born out of foresight.
Every ship in calm waters has an excellent captain.

Chances are, you may survive this wave. How about the next wave and one after that?
You may be one of the millions who is cocooned inside your cozy home, fans and aircon on, Netflixing and chilling, making babies, and creating tik-toks. 
You may be stocked up on ready-to-eat mixes, condoms, sanitary pads, and batteries for now.
Until the tragedy strikes closer to your heart, you'll feel lucky that you can work from home and not bother about the thousands of people dying.  

So until the second wave crashes out, our prime minister is going to give his vocal cords a well-deserved rest, nourish and prune his flawless flowing beard, and prepare his strategy to retain the last of the big States in Jan 2022. 

But when our Health Minister declares 'India is better prepared to beat Covid 19 compared to 2020', I just wish I had whatever the heck he is sniffing.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The End

The last few years have been tough.
But let's admit it - The last few days have been harder.

5 days ago, our PM did it again. He delivered a primetime speech, filled with enough anecdotes that included breaking Corona into an interesting acronym, to shut down our country. 
Yes, we had to shut down. Because let's face it. Our healthcare infrastructure is not prepared to handle an epidemic, let alone a pandemic.
Yes, we need to do what we need to do to prevent India from becoming a powder keg for the deadly virus.

My beef is with the way our PM does this. Sure, this virus much like black-money and corruption needs be to nipped and tough measures need to be taken. 
Like demonetization, he gave a country of 1.2 billion just 4 hours to shut down and stay home for 21 days. 
He had to be seen taking a tough and a much-needed stand. He had to be seen in control. 
But what ensued was utter chaos. Today, he came out with guns blazing defending his decision. Who else thinks our PM hasn't learned any lesson yet. 

Thousands of cities and towns across India has seen a crisis on the scale of what happened when Partition happened. Millions of people scrambled to stock up on essentials and more. Often stripping shelves bare. The early birds got the ready-to-eat packets and then more. The later birds were lathi-charged and if they were lucky, stood in lines 2 meters apart for hours to get milk and the bare necessities. I know because I stood in a line for 3 hours myself. 

And we're the lucky ones. 

The millions of migrants that build and run India heard half the first half, panicked, picked themselves, and ran. For their lives. It was either stay home and starve to death or flee and die in transit. For millions, this is still the prevailing truth. 

To the millions (in India, and billions across the world) who aren't quarantining themselves, declaring their travel history, or are otherwise continuing with their daily lives with a cavalier attitude I wonder- 
What will it take for them to take this outbreak seriously?

Where the politicians left, our media cued in with their own brand of paranoia and fed on the collective fear of apocalypse. Astrologers and your helpful chatty neighbor have been having a field day predicting all sorts of bullshit. 

But enough of the negativity.
As the world learns to stay, work, and play from home, I want this post to help you count your blessings. I know I do.

  • Most importantly, I am thankful that I am healthy (at the time of writing this post). I ask that you join me in silent prayer for the lakhs who are fighting this virus.
  • I am thankful millions like me can work from home. Unlike the tens of millions more who cannot. It would have been unimaginable to work from home even 15 years ago. Today, I don't even have to step out of my home to be productive. 
  • I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads. A safe haven. Unlike the millions in countries like Syria and Iraq and the millions of refugees, the homeless, the disenfranchised, and the persecuted. Apart from making sure we stay safe and clean, we don't have to worry about a drone or a missile strike killing us when we least expect it.
  • I am thankful, and this is for the millions who are actually taking this seriously, that we have the mental and emotional awareness of what we are going through and the gravity of the situation. Unlike those suffering from mental illness or are otherwise unable to understand why their worlds have suddenly changed.
  • I am thankful that I have the intellect to discern information from propaganda. I am glad I question and like to verify the facts instead of consuming every piece of information we're fed now. Being able to separate the fake from the truth is such a valuable trait. 
  • I am thankful that I have the money to buy what I'll need to ride this wave. I silently pray for the millions who aren't sure if they will be alive in 30 days from now.
  • I am thankful that my family, friends, coworkers, and loved ones are safe. I can't imagine the grief of those who lost someone close to their hearts at a time like this.
  • I am thankful that I am able to stay in touch with all my loved ones. I am thankful for all the love and prayers. I am alive only because of your prayers and I hope to be able to return all the love I've got.
  • I am thankful that we have millions of people who are doing what they need to do so that I can write and you can read this post. I am thankful to all the millions who are keeping our cities and towns powered, sewage clear, and water running. Asians, unlike our western cousins, don't use TP.
  • I am thankful that we have doctors and healthcare professionals working round the clock doing everything humanly possible to heal the sick, save the dying, and immunize the rest of us. 
  • I am glad we still have millions of good Samaritans helping our communities stay afloat, at these times. Cooking, cleaning and doing everything else we cannot (or would not) do. 
  • I am thankful that I am able to spend more time with my loved ones at home. I regret not spending enough time with my dad in his final years. I don't want to regret not spending time with family anymore. I am thankful for technology that enables us to be as connected as ever, even during an unprecedented crisis like this, to everyone and everything that matters. 
  • I am thankful we have stopped polluting our skies and clogging our roads, even if it is for a brief moment. Can I say how wonderful it is to wake up to birds chirping rather than the horns blaring?
  • I am thankful for this time of quiet introspection and solitude. Unlike the millions whose lives have changed forever.
  • ...

This list is long.
But you get the drift right. I want our rally cry to be one where we are positively encouraging. We can't shut all the negativity out, but we sure can drown them.

Recently a client of my company said something that struck me as profound - She was relating how she likes to end every conversation, digital or otherwise, by saying 'Choose Joy'. I was inspired. 
Like a lowly candle tearing into the darkness, I want to raise my voice. This time for more goodness. I choose joy.

And beginning with this post, I've decided to not write politics and social satire anymore. 
My readers get more than their daily recommended dosage of that from other sources online and offline.

I'm retiring my brand of satire here because I've grown weary of readers sending me veiled threats. 

Starting as soon as next week, I'll be back. With the renewed focus of a little candle in the darkness. 

Until then, stay safe and be thankful for the little joys of life. 

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