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Pandemic, People & Politics…

No one can possibly learn History entirely by heart, but History does teach human beings more than a thing or two. Pandemics had torn apart family bonds in the past, and continue to do so. In different parts of the globe, family members are leaving their near and dear ones during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In the latest incident, a sitting judge from the District of Siwan in eastern Indian Province of Bihar refused to perform the last rites of his 70-year-old father after he died from Coronavirus in the second week of May 2021. Another tragic incident took place in Bihar’s Gaya District where a family abandoned their young son after he succumbed to Coronavirus. These incidents tend to transport one to Europe, especially to the 14th Century Italy.

The year 1348… Giovanni Boccaccio (June 16, 1313 – December 21, 1375) used to live in Florence at that period of time. Bubonic plague had paralysed the Public Life in Italy, apart from killing between 30% and 60% of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351. The fear and apprehension, leaving aside the confusion, which was caused by the plague, often led to violence in Italy and other European countries. Boccaccio narrated the situation in his The Decameron, a collection of 100 novellas published in 1353.

Giovanni Boccaccio

According to the Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch and important Renaissance Humanist, people had lost their values, and started abandoning their loved ones. The plague not only deprived the children of parental care and affection, but also prompted doctors to refuse to treat patients. The priests, too, were reluctant to perform the last rites of plague victims. The situation worsened gradually, as sick people were left alone to die. When people had died at their residences, no one looked at them. Survivors used to collect the bodies, and piled them up on the side of the road. Since there was no space in the cemetery, huge trenches were dug to bury those bodies.

In recent times, it has been witnessed that human bodies have washed up on the banks of the Ganges, touted as the holiest river in India. Hundreds of corpses have been found floating in the river or buried in the sand of its banks. Those, who live close to where they have washed up, in the northern Indian Province of Uttar Pradesh, fear they are COVID-19 victims. India has been overwhelmed by a devastating second wave of the Pandemic in recent weeks, as the South Asian Nation has recorded more than 25 million cases and 275,000 deaths. However, experts are of the opinion that the real death toll is several times higher!

The US and Europe suffered the most in the first wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020. They learned a lesson from this, and made a serious attempt to increase the production of oxygen and other necessary medical supplies, such as ventilators, medicines, vaccines. The US and Europe also made arrangements to get their people vaccinated. These moves have helped them tackle the second wave of Pandemic, successfully. However, the Government of India has relied on only two domestic vaccine-manufacturing companies even after receiving warnings from experts. Hence, India is facing acute shortage of vaccines.

PM Narendra Modi

The Narendra Modi Administration has also refused to lift the Goods and Services Tax (GST, an indirect tax used in India on the supply of goods and services) on all essential items, including oxygen, and life-saving drugs. It has argued that lifting GST would make it difficult for the Government to deal with the ongoing financial crisis. However, India spent millions of dollars to purchase Rafale fighter jets from France in 2020. Even in the midst of the Pandemic, the Government of India bought two very luxurious planes (Boeing 777-300ER) for USD 190 million to carry dignitaries, like the Prime Minister, the President and the Vice President! The People of India would remember that their Government wasted a huge amount of money from the treasury at a time when the entire Nation was going through a disaster…

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