On Sunday evening the United States announced that it will assist India in fighting the devastating second wave of Covid-19 that has hit the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari with deaths and infections of alarming proportions. The indigenous resources have fallen far short of the need, therefore an appeal was made to the world to help India to overcome this crisis.
The United States, India's strategic ally, took its time to announce its help that, too, in a display of diplomacy of reciprocity. It is going to help because India had helped it in its times of distress. A Suo motu move would have been better.
It was on Sunday evening when a statement issued by the US National Security Council citing the telephonic conversation of the NSA Jake Sullivan with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, delivered a message of hope. It read : "Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic , we are determined to help India in its time of need."
It affirmed "America's solidarity with India, the two countries with the greatest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. Building on the seven-decade health partnership between the United States and India —including battles against smallpox, polio, and HIV — they resolved that India and the United States will continue to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic together. Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need."
President of the United States Joe Biden tweeted this line of " help to India in the hour of need" to underscore the help of the US administration for India . Its deep analysis suggests that it was more because of the criticism back home and America's strategic interests and the new credibility that it wants to establish in the world than any other consideration that may be attributed to it. In the world of diplomacy – everyday diplomacy is equally important as the diplomacy in international relations. The US' soft power was invoked for this – that has its own shades of controversies, which would form the diplomatic discourse between the two countries in the next few days.
Hopefully, things should improve in the country where the officially reported statistics of deaths and infections have instilled new fears. There is an atmosphere of fear all around because of the high rate of infections, resultant deaths and lack of facilities to help those struggling for life. Hospitals have turned away patients, oxygen is in short supply, doctors and para medical staff is overworked. Despite hope, the fact is that the country will have to cope with such a situation for some more time, and it is difficult to comprehend the picture that would emerge after the peak is over.
Much before the US offered its help , there were messages of solidarity from the U K, Pakistan, Singapore and China. This should wake us up to the new realities that superpowers guard their self-interests first. The US point until the NSAs spoke to each other was that the United States had to take care of its own people first.
American state department spokesperson Ned Price articulated his country's policy quite loudly and clearly; " the United States first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people. That campaign is well underway, and we're doing that for a couple of reasons..
Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people. Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world – more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone."
It's good that now the help is arriving from some of the countries and we will be able to fight the deadly disease better. But, is that the endgame? Certainly not. We had let our guard down.
We were afflicted with three Cs- Complacency – it was thought that the worst is over and we were so intoxicated with our sense of having conquered the disease that we moved on to another C- Carelessness . This was deadly. But we didn't realise until the death came in its worst form to us , where we could not find four shoulders to cremation grounds. Capriciousness that was bound to follow did rest of the damage .
Consider the cost that the nation, and we, the people, would be paying for our Covid INAPPROPRIATE behaviour of the past few months . We gave medical certificates of fitness to ourselves because we didn't have any symptom . We avoided getting tested and when the vaccine came, we enjoyed the vaccine hesitancy at the cost of our own lives. That is what we are.
There are no definite estimates about the cost of this wave , because we don't know how long will it last . In fact, there has been no comprehensive study of what all we lost in the first wave , because the declaration of the end of the first wave was untimely. That has landed us where we are today. Now there is no room for predicting end of the second wave anytime soon . We must stop living in a make-believe world and comprehend the realities as these exist and stare at us.