COVID-19 pandemic: Nation stares at dark bottomless abyss

There is criminal irregularity in the availability of vaccines, and then also oxygen, despite all claims. The black market has become horrendously active sucking into the life line of common masses

Representative Image
Representative Image

Krishna Jha

The options are not many. The dark bottomless abyss stares at us. There could be either Covid-19 or starvation. Perhaps it could be both. Resembles the torture chamber of World War II when six crore, inclusive of children and seniors, perished under the wheels of fascism.

Today, even in worst estimates, India could suffer the world’s biggest aggression of the pandemic. It added 357,229 new cases just three days back, taking its total outbreak past 20 million infections and overall death toll to 222, 408. As experts observe, the daily death toll could be doubled in the coming weeks. The third wave would be more ominous. The Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in Bangalore has used a mathematical model to study the death rate and predicted that by June, 2021, the death toll in the country would go up to 404, 000.

India is on the verge of crossing the world death count, with the US having the fatality rate now at around 578, 000. There are long lines at the crematoriums, then there are the parks, fallow land, and of course the footpaths. There is not enough wood available for bodies and the most incredible moment comes when there are half burnt bodies strewn around. Then there are graveyards and their number has always been quite slim. Now these are bursting at the seams. We fail to even offer a quiet sleep for our departed ones. For those living, life is ebbing fast, though not because of the pandemic only.

There is one more factor working for the increasing positivity rate, which implies that the country may see a spike in Covid-19 cases. It is the reproduction number, which means the rate of the spread of the disease, infection getting transferred to all those coming in contact with the infected patient. The surge implies that the country may see a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the coming third phase.

Apart from the deadly disease breathing down on each one of us, there is to be faced the total indifference towards the plight of people. The unavailability of oxygen, food, medicine has been at the top among factors leading to millions dying. There is sharp rise in the loss of jobs and hike in prices of eatables and everything else. Factories are slowly losing their financial strength and amidst continuous fall in the job scene, the crisis is gaining permanence.

Lack of food, unavailable even at starvation level, has ensured that there is very little immunity left among not only the old or children, but also the youth. The country’s youth is the target this time of Covid 19. There is increasing dip in jobs and income. Economy is in the grip of severe crisis. The global ratings agency S&P has revised its rating on GDP and shifted its forecast for 2021-22 from 11% to 9.8% , muting any possibility of recovery.

The number of unemployed in the country in December 2020 was 38.7 million, a rise from November, that was 27.4 million. In December, it was 9.1 percent, the highest since the lockdown. There is nowhere the light promised, in terms of Achhe Din. The much hyped silver lining keeps fading taking with it the optimism that has been the reason for being alive. In fact, the unemployment situation is still the highest in four and half decades. Added to it is the inflation rate standing at around seven per cent, making hope for any positivity a distant dream.

As the Pandemic was slowing down, those already in gainful employment numbered in absolute terms as 400.7 million in January, 2021, which was a rise from 388.8 million in December 2020. However, we cannot ignore the past experience, especially after the beginning of unlocking of the economy since June 2020. First, employment rose with the recovery process, then it slowed down and stalled even before the recovery was complete. Employment rate has then declined in each of the three months between October and December 2020.

There is criminal irregularity in the availability of vaccines, and then also oxygen, despite all claims. The black market has become horrendously active sucking into the life line of common masses.

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