Just as ambulance sirens force their way through traffic, we must now mourn our collective grief for the multiple losses as we negotiate the thickness of this Covid pandemic and the dense failure of our institutions.

Moan, our young winning members are dying. In celebrating the passage of the first wave as an administration success, there was pride. Leaders forgot to recognize that it takes experts in epidemiology and medicine to plan and treat a population of a billion or more. Instead, a coterie posed as advisers and overlooked the virus lurking at the gate.

Groan, hundreds of doctors, nurses and health workers have died. A system extended beyond its limits makes victims of those who should be saviors. A medical system which was not intended to serve the public but which was seen as an exclusive sector, a new type of industry, source of profit, becomes the new battleground.

Moan, there are now thousands of Covid orphans. The most vulnerable in society are falling through the cracks of an insensitive regime. The future awaits them in institutionalized forms and processes. Their past personal life has faded to make way for an impersonal and impermeable present.

Whine, thousands of teachers on election missions are dying of Covid. Carried away by the anticipated electoral victory, leaders do not view teachers as front-line staff. The value of their lives is now measured and weighted for the compensation that can be paid and their families negotiate the social and emotional loss for potential economic gain.

Whine, panchayats, the fundamental institutions of decentralized democracy, have empty coffers and offer no basic aid, relief or relief to the millions of people who have lost their livelihoods and are currently sick. But the crates for building a temple that seeks to undo history and rewrite the past, and a new palace that aspires to define posterity, are replete with public and private funds.

Whimper, the farmers are looking at the unsold produce, the piles of vegetables, fruits and grains – the fruits of their hard work. At the gates of Delhi, farmers prioritize principle and determination over their own safety and health. The government that seeks to liberalize farmers from restrictive markets continues to build barricades and barriers against the persistence and persistence of farmers.

Wail, a black market for Covid drugs emerges. Essential medicines become invisible and obscure figures cite important numbers for desperate families. A shadow economy that operates with impunity is turning into a lucrative new market, and neither humanity nor probity is breaching the new medical black market.

Whimper, breastfeeding infants are far from their mothers with Covid. Fear and misinformation mark their trauma, and the heartbreaking cries of hungry babies echo through the crowded homes of families affected by Covid.

Moan, frail and dependent elders are abandoned. On sidewalks and under bridges, on footpaths and in desolate homes, elderly men and women stretch out their once proud hands and refuse to accuse their desperate children of having abandoned them. Where the well-being and well-being of the masses has become dirty words in the lexicon of neoliberalism, the elderly are the first to be seen as superfluous.

Whine, under lockdown rules liquor stores are allowed to serve “essentials”. The rich and the poor, the literate and the illiterate are in the same line, a leveling act that neither society nor government has been able to do otherwise.

Groans, overcrowded hospitals and overworked medical staff now underscore the failure of medical sector planning. Triage is becoming the buzzword and password in hallways, ICUs and operating theaters. Outside, wait for anxious family and friends for whom the separation is as painful as the disease that has spread.

Whimper, village health workers endure the anger and frustration of the masses. Most are unvaccinated, poorly paid, and infantry in a poorly designed health system.

Whine, private hospital cash registers reach casino levels as desperate people, with and without health insurance, crowd them. People are draining their savings to save their loved ones and the opportunistic bleeding economy finds no administrative regulations or moral compass.

Whine, in the alleys and side streets, charlatans are also making money fast. Their ignorance and mistreatment provide temporary relief but no real solution. Many patients end up in hospitals in a state of emergency.

Moan, the dead are cremated without farewells and final rituals. Truncated lives leave emotional scars too deep to be understood. The most desperate throw and abandon their dead. Images of mass cremation, abandoned bodies and floating human carcasses travel through the media to private homes and transnational gatherings. A 21st century pandemic has recreated medieval horror.

Moan, moan, moan because our house built on imagined cultural superiority and religious fervor is now collapsing. Like ambulance sirens seeking passage permission, we must moan and cry to make room for new paths.

This column was first published in the print edition on May 22, 2021 under the title “A Complaint for Our Times”. Vasavi, social anthropologist, is with the Punarchith collective



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