CHENNAI, India, 29 April 2021
Those who have been tracking history over several centuries very well know that the world passes through painful incidents and happy tidings alternately. Neither the sad events nor the good happenings last forever. Certainly, this present second wave crisis of Corona virus infections will also go away.
When bad events take place such as the virus that is spreading now, what is important is that the morale of the people must be kept high and they should be fed with hopes that bright days would not be far away. This is precisely what is needed now in India.
India is passing through an unprecedented Covid-19 second wave crisis. Prime Minister Modi himself agrees that this second wave crisis has shaken the country.
Every day, print and visual media highlight the scenes of crowded hospitals, inadequate beds for the patients, lack of oxygen and ventilators for those in need of it, and the exhausted doctors and paramedical staff who have been working day and night. A few incidents of relatives of the dead patients attacking the medical staff have also been highlighted by the media, with such incidents marked as “breaking news”. The media have been repeatedly showing scenes of dead bodies waiting in the crematoriums and many bodies being burnt together. Inevitably, such excessive publicity causes distress feelings amongst people at large.
While such sad events are taking place, there are also several laudable developments, such as volunteers and non-government organisations helping the Covid patients, industries and commercial bodies coming forward readily to donate money to set up oxygen plants, etc. Many overseas countries have realized the gravity of the situation in India and are responding to India’s needs at this critical time by rushing medical and material support. As can be seen, amidst the distressing scenario, there are also bright spots that give hope.
There is no doubt that the central government and all the state governments in India are doing their level best to manage the extremely difficult situation, to the best of their ability, using all the resources at their command.
Several steps have been initiated by the Government of India and the state governments, of which the most important is the creation of more capacity for production of medicinal oxygen and distributing them to all the nooks and corners of India by rail, road, and air as early as possible. Further, a vaccination drive have been initiated with great speed and more than 140 million people have been vaccinated in a few days, which is a spectacular achievement. More steps have been initiated to further speed up the vaccination drive, clearly realizing that massive vaccination is the sure way of overcoming the second wave crisis.
However, in such a scenario, one cannot but feel distressed that some political parties, some pledged critics and sections of media, have been voicing highly critical views about the functions and performance of the government of India led by Mr Modi as well as Chief ministers of states.
Some print and visual media have thought it fit to highlight some vague views of some scientists and statisticians, both from India and abroad, that the number of people affected by the second wave in India will well exceed one million per day in the coming weeks. It is also being said without basis that the government statistics with regard to the number of dead persons and affected persons are under-reported, which inevitably creates doubts in the minds of people about the reliability of government statements.
Such statements are nothing but vague statistical estimates which are essentially predictions. The valiant efforts made by governments to implement a massive vaccination programme that could effectively prevent the spread of the second wave do not seem to have been considered by these speculators. The media highlight the unsubstantiated and exaggerated views without adequate basis, without realizing that such views would seriously affect the morale of the countrymen and shake their confidence in the ability of the government machinery and administration.
In this hour of crisis, it is sad that some politicians, media personnel, and critics have not realized the need for national solidarity to tackle the present challenging situation, and the need to refrain from voicing counterproductive views and criticisms, which look like attempts to gain political scores. The judiciary is also not helping,as some judges are making extremely sharp remarks against the governments, without realizing the limitations posed by the ground realities.
While every possible effort is being taken by the governments to tackle and overcome the crisis, the negative role of sections of politicians and media in expressing pre-conceived views are weakening the efforts of the government, as well as weakening the morale of the people.
What the governments need today from the politicians, critics, and media are not destructive criticisms but constructive suggestions with an attitude of cooperation and support.
In such a present situation and in this hour of crisis, many discerning thinkers wonder whether excessive media freedom and unchecked democratic rights to express all sorts of views even without verification and proof, are appropriate in the present crisis condition in India.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.