I have been horrified by how people from other countries have been tracking India’s record over the past few months. They say our unplanned lockdown failed miserably, adding that our government had all the time in the world to put safety measures into place and failed. They talk about how our biggest cities don’t have enough hospital beds, how we have never taken testing seriously, and how we aren’t sharing data with anyone else because we don’t have access to it ourselves.
This is all a lie. I am sure India has managed the Covid-19 crisis as well as the United States and Brazil have. These are huge countries managed by extremely competent leaders, some of whom have degrees in Entire Political Science that everyone knows makes them more qualified to tackle a pandemic than most scientists. It is an underrated degree.
To point a finger at India’s rising cases is to simply miss the point. The number of people who have fallen ill or passed away have done so because our government cares about us and wants us to develop herd immunity faster than any other country on Earth. Yes, thousands more of us may perish until that happens, but these minor problems are inevitable in any great nation.
Here’s another fact: We have done more to try and find a cure for the virus than any other nation ever can. We explored all options long before they were fashionable. First, we thought of sound, and tried banging plates to frighten the virus. A lot of people may have laughed at footage of us screaming and clapping on balconies, but those smiles could have vanished instantly if that noise were to have worked. We didn’t give up hope, obviously, because India is always shining, and promptly moved to light as a weapon. Fireworks didn’t solve the problem, but they cheered up so many people that it was worth it. Some of them may have been on their deathbeds, but is there really a better way to die than to look up at the sky and watch something explode while your neighbours applaud?
When everything failed, we even considered clothing that could boost immunity and papads that could help fight the virus. If the World Health Organisation cared, it could have sent a delegation to examine these papads, but didn’t. I believe an organisation that doesn’t take papads seriously doesn’t deserve any respect from the rest of us.
We should stop looking at what the world says and focus on what our media tells us, because it is free and fair and not under governmental orders to promote propaganda. No one is talking about how our healthcare workers don’t have equipment, how doctors are losing their lives because of a lack of medicine, or how patients are being turned away from hospitals if they don’t have a few lakhs to spare. These stories aren’t being talked about because they can ruin the immunity masterstroke that will be announced at the right time. Everything needs to be announced at the right time because publicity should be taken seriously. To expect television channels to focus on a virus when there are important issues such as nepotism in Bollywood that require attention is foolish. It is only when we tell the world how everything is great that they will start treating us like the superpower we obviously are. Whether we are truly great or not is irrelevant because, as everyone knows, you have to fake it until you make it.
When this pandemic has eventually run its course and we get back to our normal lives, I hope we can take comfort in the fact that our government did not give in to pressure from any corner. Scientists and members of the medical fraternity did their best to make us look bad by asking for more tests, but our government boldly refused because India is no longer the weak country it was around 6 years ago. It is now a lion, roaring against anyone who dares question it, except for China.
I have a message for countries that routinely make us look bad and say that India’s leaders sat back and watched while citizens died. We may not have enough hospitals, medical equipment, or beds for patients. We may not have data or an adequate number of testing kits. What we will have very soon, however, is a bullet train from Bombay to Gujarat, and if that is not worth celebrating, what is?
— First published in the Mid-Day