Day 400: Second Wave

18/04/2021

It is the 400th day since the first lockdown and official pandemic response began in India. Where are we today? In the depths of an intense second wave of Covid-19! India has reported more than 200,000 positive cases and about 1185 deaths today. Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal account for over 80% of all the cases. 

The hospitals across the country are short on essential medicines (Remdesivir), medical oxygen and ICU beds. Burial grounds and cremation facilities are overflowing. One can hear a constant drone of ambulances in the city all day. 

Migrant workers are again exiting the city in panic. But the movement is not as fraught with hardship as the long walks to villages in the early days when public transport froze in a day. Train services are operational this time. So are the flights. 

What got us here? Political rallies, festivals (Kumbh Mela) and social gatherings (weddings and parties). We were fine until late February. Things looked on track and the country seemed to be in control. And then, we squandered it away.

It has been nearly 100 days since the vaccination began. The country’s health system has managed to vaccinate 120 million Indians in this period. This week, India is short on vaccines and is cutting down on its exports. 

Four hundred days of our lives stand completely changed by this pandemic with more to come. Each one of these days have been about the same word – Covid. A word enters the lexicon, defines our lives like never before and now serves as a keyword for a whole range of effects and reasons. 

This is easily the most datafied pandemic in history. Every aspect of this pandemic is being measured, tracked and explained through numbers – from the obvious headcounts of infections and deaths to economic losses. And yet, public behaviour has assumed a subjective character of the pandemic – ‘It is all a scam’ to ‘There is nothing like this happening’. It is only when the losses come closer home that it begins making a different sense. 

While the governments continue to grapple with difficult decisions of lockdowns, economic stagnation and impoverishment of its people, one thing seems certain – the public behaviour in this country will continue to remain atomised with a sense of responsibility that stops where their nose ends. 

The pandemic presents difficult choices to make. At another level, it has been testing human character in ways that have laid bare the fragile social fabric of our times. This has happened at both national and international levels. 

With no end in sight and vaccination of entire populations a couple of years away, I only hope that it leaves us a little less broken and with some aspects of the basic human ideas of fraternity and collective responsibility intact.

6 thoughts on “Day 400: Second Wave

  1. “one thing seems certain – the public behaviour in this country will continue to remain atomised with a sense of responsibility that stops where their nose ends.”
    One could say the same thing here where a third wave is rising fast and crushing resources in a number of regions while denial continues unabated. As I respond here, a nationwide Sunday afternoon call-in show has just come on with the question: “No matter where you are in the country at this point in the pandemic, do you think we are all in this together?” I wonder if we ever were.

    1. Mildly surprised that you’re feeling the same, living in Northern Hemisphere, especially, the country you are in! A year into the pandemic, ‘we are all in this together’ kind of similarity stops at the virus and that the virus kills irrespective of nationality. Beyond that, the outcomes and costs of the pandemic seem to be unfolding differently. For all of India’s belief that we are people with special immunity, this wave is breaking that and many more illusions about life in this country.

      Very interesting times we have come to witness.

      1. India’s situation becomes more terrifying with every day. The country is becoming an international pariah. Here in Canada and much of Europe a third wave fueled by variants is offering new more serious threats than we’ve seen to date. Vaccination roll out is hitting snags and lockdowns were never severe enough. The hospitals are filling up with younger, sicker patients and, although there’s plenty of blame to go around, so many people still seem to think any measures are Draconian. On the other hand, communications with people in the US or the UK start with “Isn’t it great this pandemic is finally come to an end.”

        Please keep safe.

  2. “the public behaviour in this country will continue to remain atomised with a sense of responsibility that stops where their nose ends. ”

    Sigh. We are going to be in this for a couple more years, eh?

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