The news out of India is horrifying, as a second wave of COVID-19 sweeps across the country, with 332,730 new cases being reported on Friday. Oxygen is scarce, as are ventilators and even hospital beds. The reported death toll is 189,549, which is considerably less than that here in the US, which stands at 585,075. India's Modi government, like the Trump government here in the 'States, and the Bolsonaro government of Brazil, has responded to the pandemic in disastrous fashion.
CNN's report is eerily familiar, evoking a sense of déjà vu in this American news consumer:
State ministers and local authorities, including those in hard-hit Maharashtra, have been warning about the second wave and preparing action since February. In jarring contrast, there appears to have been a vacuum of leadership within the central government, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi staying largely silent on the situation until recent weeks.
Opposition politicians have been quick to blame Modi, who like Trump, decided to hold rallies as his country was suffering:
#Covid19 struggle in India is the reflection of @narendramodi govt.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) April 19, 2021
Assuming the govt was caught off guard for the 1st time, What is the status now?
The preparedness is hopeless even now!!
Modi feels he is bigger than India.#ResignModi pic.twitter.com/pEI3DcYlmP
Just over a year ago, when the pandemic was first becoming manifest in the 'States, I partook in a conversation with an Indian-American friend, the man who heads up the athletic program for which I coach, and the topic of the pandemic numbers in India came up. My friend, who travels to India to visit relatives every couple of years, flat our stated that the numbers could not be trusted, "The government lies."
The United States, Brazil India... all nominally Democratic societies which chose their elected leaders poorly, all chose heads of state who were more invested in nationalistic, authoritarian power grabs than in running functioning governmenst. All of these societies have been ravaged by the pandemic. Authoritarianism kills, pure and simple.