With more than 4.132 million infections as of today (September 6), India has replaced Brazil to the second spot in the number of COVID-19 cases in the world.
True, its nearly 71,000 reported deaths are far below those of Brazil (126,230) or the US (nearly 885,000), but India’s official statistics are suspect.
Let us first consider India’s infections in the past 24 hours. It added more than 90,600 cases, the highest single day increase anywhere in the world.
A day earlier, it had added 86,432 new cases, another world record.
While India may not catch up with, much less surpass the US in total infections (27,113,327) or deaths (884,524), that is of little consolation for its 1.4 billion people.
India’s healthcare system is appallingly bad. For the overwhelming majority, it simply does not exist.
Initially, the virus was reported in India’s major cities with their sprawling slums where people are crammed like sardines.
Cities like Bombay recorded major outbreaks.
The central government, led by Narendra Modi, a certified fascist, and his Hindu terrorist allies, initially ignored the pandemic.
Then the regime imposed a harsh lockdown while his Hindu fascist allies advised people to drink cow urine and take a bath in cow dung broth as protection against infection.
The Modi regime went further.
It officially asked Indian scientists and medical professionals to study the benefits of drinking cow urine and eating cow dung as a cure against infection.
To show the regime was serious, it offered a major grant for such study, causing alarm among the scientific community.
More than 500 scientists signed an online petition repudiating the government’s distorted and idiotic priorities.
The cow urine and dung recipes so eagerly peddled by Hindu gurus and lapped up by illiterate superstitious-ridden Hindus, have not cured much less helped arrest spread of the pandemic.
But the regime’s lockdown, far from arresting spread of the pandemic, actually helped spread it to India’s hinterland.
Lured by job prospects in urban centres, hundreds of millions rural dwellers had flocked to the cities.
They settled in the sprawling slums.
Appalling as these slums were, when the regime shut down the economy last March, the daily wage earners, now without jobs, headed home to their villages hundreds of miles away.
The regime also shutdown bus and train services. These poor people had to trek home on foot, with their meagre belongings over their heads or backs.
Passing through villages and towns, these unemployed workers spread the virus along the way.
Healthcare facilities are virtually non-existent in the rural areas.
The pandemic has now spread to virtually every state in India.
After two months of lockdown, India’s economy was badly affected.
“Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicted a massive 45% economic decline in the three months between April to June. Ratings agency Moody’s slashed India’s credit ratings to the lowest investment grade level,” cnbc.com reported in late June.
The Modi regime faced a Faustian choice: maintain the shutdown that would cause an economic meltdown but save lives, or ease restrictions and let people die.
It opted for the latter. Human lives have never mattered in India.
With 1.4 billion people, there are far too many mouths to feed anyway.
And with more than 400 million people living in absolute poverty, some culling of population would not be a bad thing.
India’s death statistics from the coronavirus are suspect.
With few medical facilities, most people that die in the rural areas are treated as having died of natural causes.
Their bodies are quickly cremated (or in the case of Muslims, buried) without worrying about the underlying cause.
India’s healthcare professionals worry that the “worst is yet to come”.
“In rural Maharashtra, the worst-affected state with 863,062 cases and 25,964 deaths, doctors said measures like wearing masks and washing hands had now largely been abandoned.
‘There is a behavioural fatigue now setting in,’ said Dr S P Kalantri, the director of a hospital in the village of Sevagram.
“He said the past few weeks had driven home the point that the virus had moved from India’s cities to its villages.”