‘Lack of foresight caused Covid crisis’: India’s handling of pandemic dominates global headlines

From featuring on the frontpage of newspapers around the world to being the centre of debates on television channels like the CNN, the coronavirus situation has been at the centrestage ever since the second wave of the pandemic hit the country.

As India’s coronavirus tally crossed the 2-crore mark on Tuesday, the Covid-19 crisis in the country continues to grab global headlines.

From featuring on the frontpage of newspapers around the world to being the centre of debates on television channels like the CNN, the coronavirus situation has been at the centrestage ever since the second wave of the pandemic hit the country.

The surge in cases has battered its already feeble healthcare system and an acute shortage in supply of vaccines have hit inoculation drives in most states. Thousands of Covid patients have been scrambling to find hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and life-saving medication amidst an acute shortage of medical resources in the country. India is also the only country to record over 4 lakh daily cases since the start of the pandemic.

At a time when India records over 3.5 lakh cases and 3,000 deaths a day, we take a look at how the international media has been reporting about the country’s crisis:

‘India’s Covid-19 Crisis Shakes Modi’s Image of Strength’: New York Times

India has been hit by the second wave of the pandemic like no other country and according to the New York Times, health experts and analysts blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “overconfidence” for it. “Independent health experts and political analysts say that Modi’s overconfidence and his domineering leadership style bear a huge share of the responsibility. Critics say his administration was determined to cast an image of India as back on track and open for business despite lingering risks,” the article read.

‘While India is desperate for oxygen, its politicians deny there’s a problem’: The Guardian

In an opinion piece published in the Guardian, the writer says that at a time when the country scrambles to gather oxygen for its Covid-19 patients, many of whom have even died because of its shortage, there are political leaders who not only disregard the crisis but also threaten to take action against people who voice their opinion regarding it.

“The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has threatened legal action against anyone who complains of oxygen shortages because he insists there is no such shortage. He has recently threatened to seize the property of people complaining of the unavailability of oxygen because they are lying rumour-mongers, spreading panic,” the article read.

Blaming the politicians of the country for the current scenario, the article added, “The Bharatiya Janata party’s chief minister of Uttarakhand (the Himalayan state bordering Uttar Pradesh) allows the largest riverside pilgrimage in the world, the Kumbh Mela, to gather right in the middle of the second wave, because astrologers rule that it has to happen a year ahead of schedule. His decision has the prime minister’s blessing.”

‘PM Modi could have prevented India’s devastating Covid-19 crisis, critics say. He didn’t’: CNN

Attributing election rallies to the surge in Covid cases across the country, an article in CNN read, “On April 17, ahead of a state election, a maskless Prime Minister Narendra Modi boasted to a sea of cheering supporters: ‘I’ve never ever seen such huge crowds at a rally.’ His country was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. That day, India recorded more than 261,000 new coronavirus cases — more than many countries have seen during the entire pandemic.”

Stating that that responsibility for India’s second wave belonged “first and foremost” to the government, an expert CNN spoke to said, “People expect their governments to assure them that they are in charge and taking care of things … but the government is almost missing in action. Now that India is facing the worst crisis, in my lifetime, certainly, where is the Prime Minister?”

‘India Is What Happens When Rich People Do Nothing’: The Atlantic

In an editorial, Vidya Krishnan stated that the Narendra Modi government did very little in the time it got between the first and second wave to help avert the current crisis.

“After the virus landed on India’s shores, he imposed a brutal shutdown— one that largely hurt the poorest and most vulnerable — without consulting the nation’s top scientists, yet did not use the time to build up the country’s health-care infrastructure…and rather than taking advantage of low case counts in prior months, his government offered an air of triumphalism, allowing enormous Hindu religious festivals and crowded sporting competitions to go ahead. Modi’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party has been accused of hoarding lifesaving drugs, and has held mass election rallies cum super-spreader events that would make Donald Trump blush,” the article read.

‘More funeral pyres will burn unless Modi takes accountability’: Financial Times, UK

In an article titled “The tragedy of India’s second wave”, the Financial Times warns that unless Modi takes accountability for his role in this crisis, “more funeral pyres will burn across his nation”.

“With reports of people dying in the streets outside overwhelmed hospitals running short of oxygen, India today perhaps most closely resembles the worst-case scenarios painted when the virus was identified 16 months ago.  Like populists elsewhere, Modi will be reluctant to take actions that might imply his government’s earlier mistakes fuelled today’s outbreak. Unless he does, more funeral pyres will burn across his nation,” the article read.

‘Narendra Modi’s lack of foresight caused the crisis’: Le Monde

An editorial published in French newspaper Le Monde says that Modi’s “lack of foresight, arrogance, and demagoguery are evidently among the causes of a situation that now seems out of control”.

“The Prime Minister, after having paralyzed and traumatized his country in 2020 by decreeing brutal confinement, abandoning millions of migrant workers, completely lowered his guard at the beginning of 2021,” it stated.

‘It isn’t just Modi, India’s media must also take responsibility for Covid-19 crisis’: Time Magazine

The Time Magazine, in an opinion piece, has called out the Indian media over “exaggerating the government’s successes”, saying that it is this “lack of accountability” that led to the current crisis.

“Many Hindi- and English-language news channels, as well as regional news outlets, are unabashedly pro-Modi. They have routinely exaggerated the government’s successes and either glossed over its failures or spun ways to pin them on Modi’s discontents: the opposition, liberals, Muslims, activists, leftists, protesters, NGOs, and other assorted anti-nationals,” the article read.

It added, “The media protected Modi from any proper public scrutiny of his initial handling of the pandemic. He made repeated television appearances in which he said little of substance and offered no concrete plans to tackle the crisis. Instead, he called for festivals of sound and light, and ordered the armed forces to shower flowers on hospitals — all of it hyped up by doting anchors as proof of Modi’s strong leadership.”

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