Everyday India is seeing thousands of cases of corona virus. The situation is nowhere near to “okay” and the signs of it getting worse are clearly visible from everywhere; especially when the festive season is coming up.
The recent experience of Kerala, which was praised for its initial handling of the pandemic; indicates how rapidly the situation can worsen. Reported infections there have jumped by five times since it celebrated the 10-day harvest festival of Onam; in late August, far outpacing the two-fold increase in cases nationally over that time.
And, now the biggest festivals of the nation are approaching real fast. Still, cash-short state governments are reluctant to stop people from venturing; out during Durga Puja, next week, and Diwali in mid-November. Every year we see the festivals getting celebrated with family gatherings, bumper buying; and from sweets and snacks to clothes and car, generating vital income for many people.
Subrata Mukherjee, a cabinet minister in the fourth-most populous state of West Bengal, which has one of India’s highest corona virus caseloads said that “We will probably have more deaths out of starvation if the rural migratory population who flock to cities during the pujas and earn some money during the festivity are deprived of the opportunity.” Adding further, “With showing and transplanting operations of paddy being over, a large rural population is out of any economic activity now. Similarly, thousands of small traders are looking forward to some earnings.”
West Bengal, where celebrating Durga Puja is the biggest festivals, is expected to face a tough challenge. The ruling Trinamool Congress can face a huge problem in an election next year from the BJP; it has allowed 42% more community Durga Puja gatherings this year and doubled state financing for them.
Politicians are getting accused by some doctors for undermining public health out of fear o upsetting religious sentiments, while the Union health minister has warned the situation will worsen of social distancing and other rules are not followed.
Harsh Vardhan said in a broadcast last week, “There is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith or your religion. If we do this we may be heading for big trouble.”
Doctors fear that fatalities could spike as bad winter air pollution; may worsen the breathing difficulties that many COVID-19 patients suffer. India has already reported more than 7.3 million corona virus infections and more than 1,12,000 deaths.