India in distress - GulfToday

India in distress

India Covid-19 cases

India continues to face shortage of oxygen as COVID-19 cases spiral.

The spread of COVID-19 in India has made many government officials insensitive and uncaring. The media has reported that about 140 bodies have been washed ashore onto the banks of the Ganges river, in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states (“Scores of bodies found floating in India’s Ganges River,” May 12, Gulf Today).

These are bodies of COVID-19 patients, whose relations could not get hospital admissions, nor could they muster moneys to cremate or bury the dead relatives. So, the bodies were apparently just slipped into the Ganges river. Some of the bodies were half cremated.

Citing the incident, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Union Minister of Jal Shakti, (Water and Rivers) tweeted that “The incident of corpses found floating in Ganga in Buxar region of Bihar is unfortunate. This is definitely a matter of investigation. The Modi government is committed to the cleanliness ‘’mother’’ Ganga. The concerned states should take immediate cognizance in this regard.”

The minister’s comment focuses on the commitment of the government to the cleanliness of the river Ganga. He does not mention the plight of the 140 bodies of COVID-19 victims. How did these people die? Why could they not be treated? Why did their relatives discard human bodies in the river? Why did the local district administration officials not help them with hospital admissions, treatment and religious burials or cremations? Why are we becoming so casual about the deaths of our fellow citizens?

A clean river is important. But, what is more heart-rending and shocking is the sheer helplessness of a nation, that cannot treat its sick. Even more brutal is that when these COVID-19 persons pass away, their families are just slipping the bodies in a river, without any last rites and records. This is the real tragedy of India. And senior government officials are not taking cognisance of this. India is in real pain now. Such cruelty is unacceptable.

Rajendra Aneja
Mumbai, India

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