“It is our fault.” I have simply lost count of people telling this to me, in the context of the second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic ravaging the country. “We let our guards down.”
If you have also been doing that, let me break the news to you: You have been gaslit. You have been manipulated into believing that you are responsible for the crisis, that all those bodies burning non-stop at the crematoria or floating down the Ganga are your doing. Take it from me: It is not your fault.
I know this will sound incongruous to you. “We stepped out to meet friends. We allowed the mask to slide down for a selfie at a wedding. How is it not our fault?” you will ask. I agree, you acted irresponsibly, yes; but the crisis that has befallen the nation is not of your making.
I know staying at home, maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask (preferably two, nowadays) while stepping out are part of covid-appropriate behaviour, and we individuals must be mindful of that. I trust many of us (not sure of the poor migrant workers who walked thousands of kilometres to return home) were “well-behaved” last year since our Dear Leader called the sudden, unplanned lockdown in March-end. I did not step out for over eight months, long after even the 75-day hard lockdown was lifted.
Would it have been nice if we had continued with the same? Oh, yes! But, for how long? How long would you have lived without sending kids to school, without going to the market, or even watching movie at the theatre? Could you, or should you have just gone on with the lockdown life endlessly? At some point or the other that life had to end. And the situation that we are facing now would have unraveled then!
Lockdowns and social distancing are not magic pills, you see. They do not fight the virus. They only slow down the speed of its spread. The real fight happens with the following two measures (for which it is essential that virus is restricted and so lockdowns are ordered):
- Create the infrastructure good enough to be able to tackle the rise in infections after the lockdown is lifted (because, as I said you cannot have humanity confined to their homes for eternity). Most covid patients survive; only a small percentage do not make it. Timely medical attention makes all the difference. Regular infrastructure even in the best-healthcare countries is not enough to tackle the surge. Our infrastructure is not adequate even in normal days. We needed to work harder.
- Vaccinate the population as fast as you can so that they do not get covid, or develop only mild symptoms if they do.
These two measures make for the actual fight against the virus. And, there is nothing that you or I can do about these two things. It is not our job; it is not the job of an individual. We appoint the government to do this for us.
THE GOVERNMENT HAD ONE WHOLE YEAR, and yet here we are. What did the government do? I mean, apart from getting us to bang pots and pans and celebrate an early Diwali with diyas and crackers.
That it did nothing to create the infrastructure is evident in the way people are dying–at home, in car parks, on the streets and the gates of hospitals–just trying to get hospital care, or an oxygen cylinder.
India did produce two vaccines, yes, and it is a proud achievement for us. But where are the vaccines? Only two percent of the population is fully vaccinated as of now; there is an acute vaccine shortage to immunise the rest. But India did export vaccines all over the world–some 66 million doses in 90 or so countries–as part of its vaccine diplomacy. WHY?
Pandemics come in waves, every bachcha bachcha knows. And our central government was particularly warned. The the world was battling an intense second wave. There were indications everywhere. But that did not prevent our Dear Leader from celebrating the “success” of India’s handling the covid pandemic. Humility not his strong point, he even boasted in front of an international audience at Davos that India had successfully tamed the virus and saved humanity.
Now, would you not trust your own leader when he claims that? When he gives you the feeling that the worst is over?
Having celebrated too early, India was then treated to one-after-another superspreader events right under the watch of the Dear Leader. Kumbh Mela is billed as the mother of all super-spreaders, the largest such gathering in this pandemic. The former Uttarakhand chief minister TS Rawat had reportedly suggested restricting it, but he was removed from post for his suggestion, and the event was allowed to take place.
The massive political rallies, particularly in Bengal, did the rest of the job. When Prime Minister of India came to Bengal to ask for votes for Bharatiya Janata Party candidates, he said he was ecstatic that he saw crowds wherever his eyes could reach. This, on the same day that India added more than 2 lakh cases in a single day.
The attendees of these super-spreader events returned home with a special gift–the SARSCov-2 virus–and infected you and others. And now you tell me, is this still your fault?
Stop blaming yourself. Ask the right questions, to the right people. It is important that you ask the questions to the people who are responsible for it, not some random opposition leader or a journalist risking her life to get you the story from ground zero; or even a state government that is trying hard to save its people while dealing with the Centre playing politics-politics with them. Ask how did we come to this pass? Did it have to be this bad? Where is our Dear Leader? Where did all that money in the PMCares fund go? (Apparently, the few ventilators that were bought from this fund don’t function at all.) And, most importantly, how long will it be before we get the vaccines?
Those of you from the “be positive” gang, just sit down. Asking questions is not being negative. Asking for accountability is our duty, complaining is our duty. This is the least we can do for ourselves, and others–for the country as a whole. And if you do not do it now, when thousands are dying gasping for oxygen, when will you?
The word “positivity” has suddenly acquired new meaning in India. It has nothing to do with actual positivity. “Positivity” has basically come to mean do not criticise the government and do not state the facts that are on the ground. “Be positive” wallahs want you to shut your eyes to the reality and not ask questions from the government. They are well-meaning. They do so thinking they are trying to stay positive and optimistic given that the reality around us is indeed very grim and we really need to try very hard to keep our minds in place. Ignorance can be bliss, yes, but no wise man has yet said that ignorance is positivity.
My dear gaslit friends, “staying positive” by shutting your eyes to reality actually means willingly being stupid, in my view. You have been gaslight by the government and its machinery who want to deflect your attention. Your “stupidity” is now in high demand for the government which is struggling hard to manage the narrative, having failed miserably in protecting us from the pandemic.
Please don’t be “stupid”. Be “negative”, stay negative.
(edited on 16/5/2021 to include Satish Acharya’s tweets.)