:BLOG: The series of devastating scenarios unfolding in India is so large that no attempt to camouflage it will succeed.

  • Today, I want to write about what is happening in India. India is facing a devastating second wave of COVID with 26,608,138 active cases and 300,312 new deaths. With less than 3% of the 1.3 billion population fully vaccinated as of Monday. Source: Worldometer.


The increase in the rise of cases in India's cities and rural areas has collapsed the frail health care system. For a couple of months, the number of death rates has turned out to be the names of closed ones. Social media are scrolls of horrifying reports about the collapsing health care system from major Indian cities. About 70% of the population living in the rural areas are having the worst time even finding a bed in the hospital. Images of ambulances with patients waiting outside the largest Covid facility, burning crematoriums, lack of wood, and no place to dispose of the dead bodies. Reports on the dead bodies dumped in the river Ganges. Bodies floating in the river, which is worshipped as the holiest, describes India´s grim COVID19 reality.

One might wonder how things changed so drastically in India since March? In mid-February, the number of cases dropped significantly with a low death count. While experts agree the real number is three times more. The Indian government and policymakers prematurely declared victory against the pandemic. The government approved for Covid-inappropriate behaviour by allowing cricket matches where thousands of spectators filled stadiums. A huge religious gathering like Kumbh Mela was planned, where devotees dip in the river Ganga. Due to auspicious dates, the Kumbh Mela was preponed this year because astrology mattered more than science. Political rallies were held with thousands of people crammed together without masks because votes mattered more than the deadly virus. 


Nevertheless, after poor choices made by the Indian government on easing up the restrictions, it is now busy spinning counternarratives. Recently, the government has criticized Twitter for applying its “manipulated media” label to Indian politicians’ tweets about COVID-19 efforts. Twitter clarified that the platform introduced its manipulated media policy last February, which applies to media that is “significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated. Moreover, the government accuses the Congress party of creating the toolkit to damage the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indians living abroad are exposed to everything, from videos and articles via online platforms to tweets. I am questioned and shunned when I share my opinions online. I receive messages like, “you don't have the right to criticize as you did not vote for PM Modi”, “why do you want to share your opinion when you are not living in India”, "ask your company to pay your salary to relief funds". 

For this reason, many young Indians wish to live abroad, especially women. It is a real challenge to be a woman with an opinion, hailing from a conservative family. You can use either voice your opinions or have a good relationship with the clan. Society bizarrely looks at you because you are well-educated and have opinions. This highlights how deep-rooted misogyny is within the Indian culture. A woman with an opinion is seen as a threat because she can decide for herself, and society cannot control her. I genuinely believe that my upbringing held me back, not only in my career but in fear of speaking up when things didn't feel right. Girls are educated enough to be an ideal daughter in law, and then married off. They are commonly followed in a male-dominated society, where women are known to stick to certain roles and men had considerably more freedom.

Certainly, there is a long way to go where women need to be accepted for who they are. When you are live abroad, social media turns out to be the first source of information, as things have been unfolding in India recently. I voiced my opinion, thinking I am privileged enough and indisputably hurt some male ego. I am sorry to the sisters and other females who are living in such households. If given an option, they would choose a life somewhere far where they are accepted rather than expected to stick to gender roles. Research showed that over 50% of the COVID-related tweets in India were fraught with misogynistic narratives. In a charged society polarised by religion and politics, the instances of hateful or mean comments on social media have multiplied, as can be observed why Indian women seek freedom, career, and existence elsewhere in the world. 

Since the second wave in India has been on the news, I had been asked a lot about what is happening by my friends in Oslo. Fortunately, my family and close friends are in good health and doing their best to stay afloat. I speak to them on consecutive days. I have noticed current situations affect mental well-being on account of the uncertainty of the present and the future. The second wave of COVID-19 has turned more lethal, infecting the minds of people. The feeling of being cooped up at home, losing their loved ones, devoid of support from the government has also affected people mentally, creating panic in their minds. I have noticed a drastic change in the tone and the vocabulary used to articulate their feelings. Everything is not okay; they are feeling hopeless about their future. It is not easy for me to answer their calls; honestly, it is melancholic to see them go through this.  

To summarise, it is frustrating to look at the catastrophe in India. The government could have made better choices than declaring the victory as cases reduced during the first wave. Despite disastrous decisions made by the government officials, they are more concerned about the image of PM Modi. The government does not develop any plan, does not address the nation with the facts, nor has the spine to face the media. But will do their best to make you forget about their colossal failure that has resulted in the death of thousands of Indians. As India face criticism over its COVID-19 response, the government is looking to launch a new "BBC World-like" channel to provide "India's point of view." Trust me, the series of devastating scenarios unfolding in India is so large that no attempt to camouflage it will succeed.

My thoughts and love are with everyone in India going through these challenging times right now. I hope you find peace and see the light within. Kindly take care of your beautiful mind. There are no words that can comfort the grieving at a time like this. More strength to you, India, stay strong!