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India’s Experiments with COVID-19

Summary:
Shooting from the Hip [ed. note: the tweets linked below mainly show videos from various lockdown phases] Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt. Stranded in India… [PT] Tens of millions of people — myself included — got stuck wherever they were. People were not allowed to leave their homes, not even for grocery shopping, the latter of which was amended after a few days when the government realized that people needed to eat.

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Shooting from the Hip

[ed. note: the tweets linked below mainly show videos from various lockdown phases]

Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt.

Stranded in India… [PT]

Tens of millions of people — myself included — got stuck wherever they were.

People were not allowed to leave their homes, not even for grocery shopping, the latter of which was amended after a few days when the government realized that people needed to eat. In a country of 1.38 billion people, the initial policy was a shot from the hip, without any consultation or planning, as if prepared by primary school kids.

Those, particularly the poor, who ventured out to get food, were ruthlessly beaten by police.

In a country where 300 million people go to bed hungry on a typical day, many more were immediately sent to starvation. Tens of millions of migrant workers—perhaps as much as 100 million or more—living from hand to mouth got stuck where they could no longer afford to stay without a regular job.

If your teenage daughter had gone to another city for a night, she was to be stuck for at least two months without any recourse — if she had no money or safe place to stay, that was not Modi’s problem. I was stuck for four months before I could finally get on a repatriation flight to North America.

Hungry and thirsty, in sauna-like summer, hundreds of thousands of homeless people walked hundreds of kilometers, in many cases more than a thousand kilometers, to get to their rural homes. Hundreds of those who took a walk died.

Modi comes across a singing bowl….[PT]

No country enforced a lockdown as draconian as that imposed in India.

Crumbling Infrastructure & Teflon Modi

Indians consider it unmanly to do a proper job of anything, so nothing works properly. India lacks quality. Electrical cables hang around everywhere. Work is done flimsily. No wonder you typically lose electricity at least once a day, even in posh areas.

A complete curfew over the last 68 days had to send India’s infrastructure crumbling down.

Soon after a slight relaxation, one chemical plant in the southern city of Vishakhapatnam had a significant gas leak. Over a thousand people collapsed. Scores died. The same day, a coal-fired boiler burst, something unusual given the high safety standards associated with boilers these days. But it did in India. This had to happen where people lack an understanding of safety, and everything is left to be completed tomorrow.

After the 68 days of nation-wide curfew, restrictions were relaxed a little in parts of the country. People after that needed “internal visas” to move around within the allowed areas, albeit trains and flights were still not functioning. If you got stuck a thousand kilometers from where you were supposed to be, you still had to walk to your destination or take a costly taxi if you could get one. And taxi-drivers knew that they could get beaten up—or even killed—by the police before any questions were asked.

My squabble is not with Modi. He is a naïve, simplistic bully, characteristic of what tribal, amoral, irrational Indians would vote into power.

In an irrational society, it is impossible to know who is responsible and to untangle causes from effects. The rulers elected by irrational masses cannot take decisions or then explain those to citizens, who cannot understand or follow anyway. If a rare case ends up in court, the judge cannot decide.

In a recent case, the Supreme Court asked a rapist of a minor girl if he would marry her. In such a society, brutality and savagery are the only media for communication. Those beaten up look for another weak person—not their oppressor to avenge—to perpetuate savagery. But they will still vote for Modi. That is the karmic cycle of India, in which Modi is merely a full participant.

Economic Slump

The economy is organic. You must keep it in motion. If you stop it, there will be unknown, unseen, and unthought-of problems, particularly in India, where the leadership does not engage in complex thinking and cannot plan for the future.

India, contrary to what the World Bank and the IMF assert, was already economically stagnant before the corona-virus hit. It had to find it extremely difficult to kickstart the economy if it could be done at all.

India’s Experiments with COVID-19India’s economy before and after the outbreak of COVID-19 – now there is an excuse… [PT]

The international media, mesmerized by India’s democracy and in thrall to political correctness, claimed that India brought COVID-19 under control through faithfully following mask-wearing. In reality, hardly anyone wears a mask—the rare person that wears one takes it off when talking to people.

Fast forward to today, a year later, widespread starvation and poverty have meant that the government can no longer keep people from going out. Massive desperation has set in. Beggars remind one of the 1980s. People are desperate for jobs. India has relegated at least 75 million new people to poverty. The Indian economy contracted by 10.3% in 2020 – making it one of the worst-performing in the world.

In its supreme wisdom, the government runs a minimal number of trains and buses and restricts opening hours for shops. They fail to understand that this creates horrible congestion, massive chaos, and over-crowding.

For a few months, COVID-19 did come under control, but this had nothing to do with the Indian government. Then COVID-19 started up again. The corona-virus is currently spreading exponentially in India, contesting the top slot for the most daily cases globally.

While the government talks proudly of India having developed a vaccine and supplying it across the globe, it does not even have the infrastructure to vaccinate its own people who demand it.  A mere 4% of Indians have so far received their first shot. It will take many years before India can be thoroughly vaccinated. One must be thankful that COVID-19 is hopefully not a tool for Malthusian designs, but that day is destined to come.

The virus ban by midnight didn’t really work out as envisaged… [PT]

Editing & image captions by PT

 Jayant Bhandari grew up in India. He advises institutional investors on investing in the junior mining industry. He
writes on political, economic and cultural issues for several publications. He is a contributing editor of the Liberty magazine. He runs a yearly seminar in Vancouver titled Capitalism & Morality.

 

 

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India’s Experiments with COVID-19 
 

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Jayant Bhandari
Jayant Bhandari grew up in India. He advises institutional investors on investing in the junior mining industry. He writes on political, economic and cultural issues for several publications. He is a contributing editor of the Liberty magazine. He runs a yearly seminar in Vancouver titled Capitalism & Morality.

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