Covid 19 Crisis in India
BRICS, 10 May 2021
The Rich Hoard Wealth and the Poor Share, but Death Is Guaranteed for All
Resurrection and Rise of Humanity, Community Assistance from Sikhs, Individuals and the Indigent, Corporations/Bollywood Conspicuous Silence
5 May 2021 – Corona virus infections have reached a staggering 156,921,961 as of 08th May 2021 updated at 1020 am GMT, according to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre. Brazil has 15,082,449 cases with India 21,892,676 infections. The deaths are recorded as 419,114 for Brazil and India as 238, 270, respectively. Both these countries with an interesting mix of first world and third world healthcare systems are countries which are suffering from the full force of the current waves of SARS Cov-2 pandemic infections apart from the first world United States leading at 32,652,029 cases and deaths at 580,901. Interestingly, both countries have leaders, as President Jair Bolsonaro and Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, elected in 2014 in India, who have downplayed and even denied or misrepresented that the Covid Pandemic is not a national problem and it is under control, while thousands of the citizens of these countries are being decimated daily by the multivariant strains of the Covid Virus.
The global population is estimated to be nearing 8 billion while the population of India is calculated to be in excess of one billion. The current population of India is 1,390,790,274 as of Monday, April 19, 2021, based on “Worldometer” elaboration of the latest United Nations data. India 2020 population was estimated at 1,380,004,385 people at mid-year according to UN data. India population is equivalent to 17.7% of the total world population. The Indian economy is the fifth largest in the world and the citizens of India may be economically divided into the mega rich, the rich, the middle income, the poor, very poor and the Dalits, who are the downtrodden sector of the citizenry. The Dalits, is a name to people belonging to the lowest caste in India, characterised as “untouchable”.
They are the outcasts of the community, the poorest of the poor and living on the fringes of humanity, in abject poverty, subject to abuse, rape being common and literally live in the sewers, removing toilets buckets with their bare hands, with no protective wear, whatsoever. The fate of the Dalits is predestined, with the religious stigma that their present lot in life is due to their transgressions and misdemeanors in the past life and they must suffer according to the sins in the past reincarnation according to the Hindu philosophy. If a Dalit touches a Brahmin, they need to have to have a full religious ablution and if they visit the temple ground, the entire temple needs to be washed and cleansed. Ironically, the Dalits females are often raped or even murdered by the high cast males with absolutely no accountability as many cases have repeatedly demonstrated. The police are also bribed, including the Police Senior Inspector to obfuscate the investigations.
Culturally, there are many groups, ranging from the North Indians, having a distinct flavour of influence integrated, into their daily lives from the repeated invasions by foreign powers from the north, in the likes of the Ottomans, the Mughals and in recent history, the Chinese, Russians and even the Afghans. The South has been relatively isolated by the terrain which prevented movement and accessibility of various invading forces which could not carry their heavy artillery across the dense jungles to fully invade the South, as the Mughals invaded the North, with ease. The languages, cuisine and the lifestyles are different. A unique group are the Parsees, who are of Persian origins, followers of Prophet Zoroaster and they are typified with an extremely high level of cleanliness and sterility, in their personal lives wearing a mask, centuries before the appearance of SARS Cov-2 containment measures. They are on the verge of extinction, as there are not enough individuals of different genders to inter-marry within their community.
In India the high caste is privileged based on religious doctrines of Hinduism. This is a system which ranks people according to their social order and hereditarily in Hinduism. It is also a division in society based on wealth, inherited rank, or occupation which a person cannot change the caste he or she has been born into. Based on ones caste, there is discrimination and favoritism, coupled with bribery and corruption at every level of the social hierarchy. This is evident when it come to employment opportunities, in companies, in private enterprises and even in the appointment for menial tasks throughout the country. Fair skinned individuals are readily employed by the multinational companies, in the public media, television channels and in government positions and they easily become actors. Some reports intimate that the caste system even translates as to the priority in vaccination.
India has the largest movie industry in the world in terms of the quantity of films produced and is at the forefront of the entertainment industry. It was estimated to be 1.9 billion dollars in 2014. Presently, the movie industry called “Bollywood” has produced ultra-big budget movies, in the highest industry standard of format of filming, with all movies now digitally filmed in 9 by 16 widescreen format. These movies have astonishing computer-generated imagery and filmed in exotic locations, throughout the world, including in South Africa.
A unique feature of the Bollywood movie industry is the inclusion of songs rendered by playback artists. These songs written by famous lyricists are filmed on the film actors. These performers who are invariably the heroine and hero in the movie, spontaneously bursts out into a song to the accompaniment of full orchestral music using Eiffel Tower as a background location, or Niagara Falls, or even the scenic Bo-Kaap historical locality in Cape Town South Africa, where many big budget movies are filmed. The stars are extremely popular and earn a conservatively estimated salary of around 30 million dollars. The movie stars are international idols, glorified by movie goers all over the world, from China, to Latin America, Middle East and Africa as the films are dubbed into numerous languages.
The scale of the industry is such that these films are internationally released, in different languages, simultaneous on the big screen, in major cities throughout the world, not only streaming. Of note was the South Indian film “Bahubali I and 2”. These movies were produced in Tollywood, based in Chennai and they were the highest record grossing films Indian has ever produced. The takings were reported to be even higher than James Cameron’s “Titanic” in 1994, with the different versions, collectively.
Every Indian aspires to be a movie actor but only a selected few end up doing so, both in Bollywood centred around in Mumbai and Tollywood. The corruption and bribery range from actors who are well connected, or supporting the ruling part, or they are the progeny of famous actors such as Raj Kapoor and his entire family, four generations down the line, to the famous “casting couch” when it comes to the making of a female superstar, in most cases. In fact, India was rocked by such a scandal a decade ago. These actors’ earn millions from a successful box office production. However, their personal lives are rather disharmonious. The stars are often afflicted by personal problems such as drug addiction, as recently exposed following the death of a young male star, with the resulting, associated police investigations unearthing a life of drug addiction amongst famous Bollywood stars, in major cities in India. 
Let us examine the statistics of Covid-19 pandemic in India at present. According to John Hopkins Covid Resource Centre, India has the highest rate of covid infections caused by the multivariant mutations of the virus. This has literally resulted in thousand of fatalities throughout the country, not only in rural areas, but also in major cities such Delhi, the capital, Mumbai, the business hub and resulted in the health system being overwhelmed by the pandemic.
While the public sector is totally snowballed, even the private hospitals, where often the fees are levied in United States Dollars, are also full to capacity, with no ventilators, ICU beds and even staff are in critically short availability. Another major crisis which the pandemic has highlighted is the extremely short supply and non-availability of medical oxygen in large private hospitals, where multitude of patients have expired due to the lack of oxygen supplies.
Furthermore, vitally needed oxygen supplies have run out in major hospitals, with hundreds of Covid -19 patient either being refused admission or dying outside the medical facility from lack of available oxygen supplies in these hospitals. Furthermore, the vaccination programme is not coping to achieve the desired percentage of immunity in the non-vaccinated citizens, noting the one billion plus population of India. It is also to be noted that while international aid is forthcoming from United States and other countries, there are administrative problems in the distribution to the most needed communities due to government tardiness and inertia.
The international aid has also sent oxygen and related equipment, but again the distribution chain has failed, especially in rural areas. It is also a pleasure to note that the government of BJP has deployed oxygen trucks by the extensive railway network throughout India, but it is too late in most cases whereby thousands of patients have passed on, to the profound grief of their families. The situation is so desperate that the cremation services are operating 24 hours and, in some cases, where open funeral pyres are used as a traditional means of cremation, there is even a short supply of wood needed for cremations. In cases of interment, space is at a premium and graves are now running out for burials, The infected and decomposing bodies are stored in warehouses, creating a bio health hazard.
In summary, the entire health system in different states has collapsed due to the overwhelming numbers of patients and the lack of infrastructure to handle the situation.
Under such dire circumstances, it is wonderful to see the “resurrection of humanity” and assistance rendered to strangers by different communities, organisations, individuals and even the poorest of the poor, in rural areas, with no financial gain as the motivating factor.
Let us examine some of the uplifting and wonderful anecdotes of genuine altruistic assistance rendered to Covid-19 patients in India during the severe Third Wave affliction. The Sikh community, which was the subject of rampant and atrocious massacres  of women, children, and elderly, by the Indians in 1984 after the assassination of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. These very Sikh community have forgiven the perpetrators of the brutal massacre, molestations and literally slaughter of children, are now assisting the patients with Covid Infections. The Sikh Community has setup roadside medical assistance facilities, some with even oxygen cylinders to aid patients who are total strangers gasping for oxygen, with positive outcomes.
Other small community organisations have rendered support to children when both parents have died from Covid related complication, in some areas. There was even a verified report of a man selling his wife’s gold jewelry to purchase a scooter locally known as “Tuk Tuk and use that to transport Covid patient in this little three wheeled vehicles, as a free taxi, to medical care facilities. Other poor individuals have purchased whatever oxygen available to go around the neighborhood supplying oxygen assistance to gasping patients who have been refused admission at public and private hospital due to lack of beds and oxygen.
Some communities have set up temporary, roadside makeshift facilities to assist patient collapsing enroute to hospitals. These communities have set up children to fan the sick patients while they are in respiratory distress with relatively good outcomes, considering the dire situation the victims are faced with. Such is the dedication and level of assistance to strange and unrelated humans by these individuals and organisations which are in sharp contrast the contributions by the mega corporations and multinationals who have their call centre hubs in major cities in India, such as Bangalore. These companies are conspicuous by their silence in terms of corporate responsibility and social outreach activities for the desperate patients.
It is also sad to note and a serious indictment on the Bollywood and Tollywood industries which have made mega fortunes from the very citizens of Indian that have transformed their stars in Demi Gods, not only in India but globally. The actors who portrayed a caring and community-based service philosophy in the movies made, are nowhere to be seen in the fight against Covid and support of patient, at least financially, if not physically. They could easily afford setting up oxygen factories, securing further aid from abroad and assisting the desperate communities. In fact, if one examines, these film actors, over the years, they all have become morbidly obese, with the affluent lifestyles they enjoy on the success of their movies,
This success goes across the entire spectrum of the film industry, from the financiers, producers, directors, scriptwriters, musicians, playback singers, the actors and even the cinema chains that have the distribution rights to these ultra-big budget movies. Yet, it is sad to note that there is no assistance forthcoming from this sector, to assist the abysmal medical situation. It is also to be noted that obesity is an independent risk factor in acquiring Covid-19 infection and since most of the actors are obese, they will certainly be affected by the virus. Historically, these actors have indulged in the benefits of their affluent lifestyles and have subsequently demised from the associated complication of substance abuse, consuming high fat foods, developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Coronary Artery Disease, Hypertension, cancer of pancreas due to chronic alcoholism and finally expiring. These ailments accelerated the death of superstars such as Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kap0or and Rishi Kapoor, recently.
Chronic Alcoholism is so rampant that another superstar, Salman Khan killed street people driving in a state of intoxication and he was acquitted by the court due to lack of proper evidence and bribery at high levels. Yet the masses are idolising such individuals, globally. It was reported by VIP driving services in Durban, South Africa, when some of these actors were visiting South Africa that some of them were so inebriated that they had to be carried off the transport vehicles to their hotel rooms on return after a night out, in a new city they are visiting. These megastars have demonstrated no compassion for the masses who have placed them in this status of superheroes and superheroines, globally
The bottom line is that it is the poorest, majorities and marginalised communities, such as the Sikhs have demonstrated humanity, compassion, caring and altruism in times of need of fellow citizens of India, to the exclusion of the rich and high caste, as well as the movie industry giants, such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. The contributions made for Covid patient care by ordinary Indians, augurs well for the future and it marks a renaissance for humanity.
I strongly urge the large followers of cinema industry in India and internationally to boycott the Indian movies to make these uncaring movie industry superstars realise that they have erred in not supporting the sick and infirm in their time of dire needs. It is sad that we as ordinary citizens have allowed this state to develop, creating super stars who really do not care about the masses which created the arrogant self-centred and selfish monsters, over the century since the inception of Indian cinema.
- Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.
- Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
- Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
- Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
- Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
- Activism: Justice for All
- Email: email@example.com
Tags: COVID-19, Coronavirus, India, Pandemic, South Asia
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 10 May 2021.
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