I am here at Delhi, the epicenter of biggest man-made calamity in the shape of covid crisis; right here, at the capital and power centre of a mighty nation of powerless citizens; witness to desperate calls people are making to any person who they think can be of help. Cries of distress, SOS on twitter, addressed to no one in particular. Every resource is scarce. Oxygen. Beds in hospital . Ventilators. Tocilizumab. Remdesivir. Not in any particular order. It is pointless to forage the black market either, the only open channel of distribution which functions flawlessly during times of crisis. But such is the nature of unpreparedness and scarcity that nothing can be had either for love or for money. The demand has swamped even this source of supply . Appeals to our good sense, or neighborliness, our sense of community, our compassion gradually deadens all these qualities, simply because of our inability to make even a bit of a difference. It fills us with an erumpent rage, a sense of powerlessness, a sordid cynicism.
These resources are in the domain of power hungry, control freaks, delusional leaders of governments. All governments, without exception , work through their bureaucracy, and how dead and deadening the exposure to bureaucracy can be , is too well known. In Jose Saramago’s chillingly contemporary novel , Blindness, a doctor calls a minor bureaucrat in the ministry of health who ridicules and rebuffs him. “This is the stuff we are made of, half indifference, half malice,’’ he muses to himself.
For the medical industry , whose profitability is rooted in human misery, it is a vultures’ feast, you can hear the feathered creatures singing in all their glory. After all it is once in a lifetime opportunity. How can they let it go? According to an informed estimate the two-serum manufacturer are looking at a combined profit of 1.10 lakh crores. After having appeased their respective governments with crumbs, they can go about the business of excoriating ordinary people. But I do not grudge them their profit considering that one of the above gentlemen is paying an extortionate rent of 5 million rupees per week for a flat in London. Chartered private jets don’t come in cheap either. In the meanwhile in the 2021 edition of quit India movement led by the super-rich, eight plane loads of them landed in their private jets at London to beat the ban against flights from India . Wonder why did we ask them to quit in the first place! The exodus, however, is not limited to London , our people have peppered the pleasure joints of Europe or wherever Covid no longer raises its ugly head. Dubai is also a favoured new destination for the Indian uber rich .
Private hospitals, I have heard, are charging one lac rupees per day for a room. Remdisivir was, reportedly selling, if at well it was available, for four times the normal price. In the final stages of consumerism everything has an exact commodific value. For those who haven’t learnt their lessons while they were alive, the Dom raja now asks his price for cremation. People who can afford are paying 20 -2 5 thousand for a priority berth . Up there, some of them should be able to tell God, all is well with India and his grand mansion is likely to be commissioned on schedule .
Written about a fortnight ago.