The Second Chance called Tomorrow
Where we lost
When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were framed in the year 2015, the world leaders probably had little idea about the magnitude of the Pandemic, lined up to hit the globe. The most challenging task for them was climate change at that time although it is still at the upper hand. However, the emergence of COVID 19 Pandemic across the globe sidelined the climate change agenda for some time. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was declared as pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th, 2020 mainly due to the speed and scale of the transmission of the disease. In early 2021, in India when its leaders declared that they defeated CORONA and made everything open for its citizens, suddenly the second wave hit the country in an unexpected way. Today it is so worst that the traumatic scenes coming from different cities have shocked the entire world. The scientists and researchers had warned in September 2020 that the risk of a second wave was very real. While all other countries went into devising strategy to combat the epidemic, its worst is being seen in India and the reasons are well known to everyone. In Delhi, it seemed the system has collapsed. SOSs from hospitals and families continue to make desperate appeals for oxygen on social media. Doctors become helpless. The top court of the country has to intervene. The city becomes the hot hub for the international media. Emergency medical aid pours into pandemic-stricken India from around the world.
It’s devastating impact is so big that nobody knows how many have died of COVID- in second wave. This is a very hard question. Media and International data indicates big discrepancies in official data. Whatever the number may be, the truth is that tens of millions of people plunge into poverty. A significant proportion of people, who have died are in their 30s and 40s. In many cases, children of people in this age group have lost both parents. The fear factor which is being created by the people in the entire country is more dangerous to handle now. The country has to pay the price for it. In the other side, the Indian rupee has turned into Asia’s worst-performing currency. Recently many economists are cutting their forecasts for the current fiscal year.
What is learnt
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused staggering human and economic costs. Concerted multi-sectoral efforts are required to address the pandemic with strong leadership. Post COVID, the Indian leadership must focus on strengthening the system so that at the time of any worst situation it responds well. People are giving taxes and they should not die for oxygen and non-availability of hospital beds. Everybody has the right to live a dignified life and the system has to ensure this. The leaders who are elected by the people must come forward to protect them and they must not misuse their power.
Education must be placed as the top most agenda of the country. Today kumbh mela and the Bengal rally becomes international news for the unparalleled surge of COVID 19 in India. It is found that half of COVID deaths in Uttarakhand are kumbhreturnees and rapid spread of COVID in West Bengal is for the election rallies. Was it really required for millions to gather at Kumbh and a sizeable population of Bengal to attend the rally? Even if a leader organizes an election rally the people should have a choice. But this is not the case in India. The education system must be restructured. We must take a vow that we are the last generation to tolerate such systemic failure in our country. Let our coming generations not. Let them be educated to build a peaceful and resilient planet, what the SDGs mandate. The country with a 1.3 billion population must prepare itself for a new age, post COVID. India has the potential to lead the world and show the right path to all the countries in the planet. The path is lost today but we the citizens of India have the capacity to choose the right path again. Life always offers a second chance- it is called tomorrow.
* Nabaghan Ojha is a consultant with UNDP. The opinion expressed within the article are personal opinion of the author.