India has been in the news a lot lately about its horrific problems dealing with Covid-19. This is what Sumit Ganguly said about it in the Winnipeg Free Press:
“India’s coronavirus crisis is stunning to behold. In northern India, bodies are being cremated in public parks because crematoriums have exceeded their capacity. Elsewhere, officials have suggested that families bury in their backyards relatives who succumbed to COVID-19. Despite being the world’s largest producer of vaccines, India has fully vaccinated less than two per cent of its 1.3 billion people.”
Shortages of the antiviral drug remdesivir have people begging friends and relatives on social media to locate supplies. Family members drive each other to multiple hospitals in the hope of finding a bed. Recently, 22 COVID-19 patients in a hospital died when its oxygen-generating facility sprang a leak. The daily rate of infections has reached more than 300,000, and epidemiologists believe the country will peak around mid-May with more than 5,000 daily deaths.
For a while India managed to hold the effects of the pandemic in check despite the fact that it has serious health infrastructure problems that are well known. Harsh lockdown measures worked very well. Then, with rash over confidence,
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government abandoned its caution and, in a series of stunningly reckless decisions, invited the second wave that is now crushing the country. This colossal failure of policy-making has many forebears: general callousness, crass electoral considerations and sheer ineptitude. For a government that first assumed office in 2014 with a promise of sound technocratic governance and an end to political paralysis, the second surge represents an astonishing abdication.”
After seeming to put the virus in its place, Modi charged into a full political campaign attending rallies without a chance of social distancing and in situations where few of his faithful followers wore masks. Does that sound anything like what happened to our neighbour south of us during its recent elections?
The Prime Minister also allowed a massive Hindu religious festival to be held that usually attracts more than a million pilgrims. It can last for 3 months. It was easy to see why he did that. He wanted deep Hindu support in the election. Obviously, it did not take much for this to turn into a super spreader event.
There was another stunning series of events around the vaccines produced in India. India is one of the largest vaccine producers in the world, if not the largest. It also has valuable experience with vaccination drives. Yet India went on another campaign of vaccine diplomacy in which it offered vaccines to its neighbouring countries and countries in Africa. That may have been laudable, but it prepared Modi’s own country for disaster. India began to run out of vaccines.
The results as Ganguly reported were pretty ugly:
“Now that public parks are becoming temporary crematoria, patients are lying on the sidewalks outside hospitals, and ambulances (when available) lack oxygen, Modi’s associates have resorted to more drastic, albeit familiar, tactics: they argue that the government’s critics are merely seeking to sow nationwide discord. Delhi is now pressuring social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram to take down posts that are critical of its handling of the crisis.”
I won’t criticize Modi for his generosity to other countries, but I do criticize him for his over confidence and desire to gain international approbation at the risk of the lives of his citizens. Unsurprisingly Modi is running into a lot of criticism from his countrymen.
In Canada we are proud of our country. Many of us think it is the best place in the world to live. This view is being challenged however in one of our richest provinces—Alberta. Why is that?
Recently Alberta has been swamped by new Covid-19 cases. The numbers don’t sound as high as Alberta, but that is because India has a much larger population. If you closely the comparative numbers they are interesting. The Winnipeg Free Press reported this way:
“According to Health Canada, that brings Alberta to 289 active cases per 100,000 people this week, which is the highest in the country. The next worst off is Ontario. Alberta’s rate is 70 per cent higher.
It’s a third wave unrivalled in Canada, and propelled by what experts argue is a miasma of lacklustre policy, political unwillingness to alienate the province’s libertarian fringes, and dependency on a flagging oil industry that was struggling even before the pandemic”.
According to Cornell University, “on Wednesday the prairie province saw a higher one-day increase in cases relative to population than anywhere in the United States, save Michigan, a state currently battling a major surge.” As if it is not bad enough being worse than 49 of the American states, it seems Alberta is even worse than India!
“On Thursday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi pointed out the rate in his city — 500 per 100,000 people — is higher than that in India, where a fresh wave has largely overwhelmed the health-care system and depleted hospitals of critical supplies, such as oxygen.”
The Premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney seems reluctant to offend his right-wing base. As a result, retail, churches and patio dining remain open I Alberta, with some capacity restrictions, as Alberta resists the sort of harsher lockdowns being imposed in Ontario with lower per capita rates of Covid-19. This may sound familiar to Manitobans.
Alberta, like Manitoba, has had to faced litigation from churches and other parties similarly demanding lifting not increasing restrictions. Both provinces have Conservative leaders who appear reluctant to challenge churches while those churches in turn think the rules are too strict. It is not easy being a Conservative Premier in Canada during a pandemic. Can Manitoba be far behind?