Under the Modi regime today, pandemic-battered India is going through one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history. Together with the economic and social collapse already brought about, consequent on India becoming the epicentre of the second Covid-tsunami, the cruelty, callousness, and total abdication of responsibility on the part of this fascist regime in protecting the lives and livelihood of people are exposed beyond description. The situation is so horrific that even Modi’s PR work backed by submissive corporate media has become ineffective in concealing it.
A year ago when the pandemic entered India, beginning with obscurantist moves like clasping hands, candle lighting, banging utensils, etc., the more than 3-months nationwide coercive lockdown that Modi superimposed on 138 crore Indians had brought about a complete disruption of people’s lives and livelihood. Despite his incessant sermons on “Atmanirbhar” during this period, Modi didn’t do anything in the direction of strengthening the health care system including availability of medicines and badly needed oxygen supplies, and bringing private-corporate hospitals under social control. As a result of Modi’s policies during pandemic, while top one percent of the richest gobbled up their wealth by 35 percent, an additional 7.5 crore Indians were pushed in to poverty in 2020.
In the meanwhile, in the context of global warnings on a second wave of mutated Covid virus and as many governments in Europe took precautions against it by the last quarter of 2020, the approach of Modi and his PR managers who were celebrating the regime’s ‘victory’ over the coronavirus was one of callous, criminal negligence. It was in this context that the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Family Welfare, being aware of the impending danger, in its 123rd Report made available to speaker of Lok Sabha and chairman of Rajya Sabha during November 2020 and which was tabled in both the Houses of Parliament on February 2, 2021, warned of serious shortage of oxygen cylinders in hospitals and recommended a “robust strategy for containment and mitigation of Covid-19,” and “adequate production of Oxygen for ensuring its supply as per demand in the hospitals.”
However, instead adhering to these recommendations of the parliamentary committee and in gross disregard of it, Modi with his false claim of conquering the pandemic has been reckless in holding massive electoral rallies in different states, hold Kumbh Mela, and so on, violating all Covid- protocols and norms even as the whole country is being ravaged by the fast-spreading- pandemic, with daily infections already crossing the staggering figure of 4 lakh (the number of Covid patients in India was 2394 on May 1 2020) and per day death of more than 3000. Today saffron-fascist Modi regime is being exposed as the most anti-people and reactionary one engaged in concealing Covid cases, death counts and nakedly bullying media to not report facts including assault on independent media persons by saffron goons.
In this gravest situation, along with the intensification of inequality and poverty, instead of strengthening medical facilities and health infrastructure under public control, thereby ensuring universal healthcare to people, Modi is undermining it by decontrolling everything connected with health sector. Healthcare being the pillar of people’s sustenance, even imperialist countries have extended vaccine and oxygen to their citizens free of cost and medicines at affordable prices. On the other hand, by unleashing corporate forces on the production and distribution of vaccine, fascist Modi has superimposed world’s highest vaccine price on the citizens of India, a country that has long championed for free vaccines and affordable medicines for people in all international fora. And, as people are gasping for air and collapsing due to lack of life-saving oxygen, black-marketing and hoarding of oxygen cylinders are thriving across the country.
In this horror situation, our immediate demands are:
- Production, procurement, distribution of vaccine should be immediately brought under state control for which provisions of the Epidemics Diseases Act, Compulsory Licensing of the Patents Act, and Drugs Control Act can be used.
- Vaccine should be made available to all free of cost
- Immediate nationalisation of production and distribution of oxygen in the country.
- Strengthen country’s public health system including adequate availability of hospital beds and medicines as affordable to people including extension of healthcare facilities at homes
- Private hospitals should brought under public control through an ordinance
- Expert medical advice should be sought from a team of concerned medical experts including immunologists and virologists and should be made available to public and government’s dependence on pharma companies for information should be stopped.
- Responsible science reporters and pro-people journalists being best sources of information should have full freedom to report on Covid related issues. This is of utmost significance in view of such fascist moves like Yogi's threat of imposing NSA on those who report on oxygen shortages in UP.
- Image-building exercises/expenditures like Central Vista project should be wound up and public money generated thus should be diverted towards securing the lives and livelihood of people.
- Urgent steps are to be taken for an appropriate pandemic-tax on the super-rich, reintroduction of wealth tax in view of the unprecedented concentration of wealth, and an increase in corporate tax for mobilising the required money.
- Ensuring livelihood of people including contract and casual workers, landless poor peasants, marginalised and oppressed including Dalits, Adivasis, fisher-people is equally important as protection of their lives through proper Covid-management. Together with the revamping of MNREG program and free distribution of food stock with FCI, a nationwide initiative with the involvement of state and local governments for ensuring free food, medicines, shelter and other amenities affordable to poor and migrant workers are urgently needed.
- Scarcity of medical staff in the immediate context should be resolved through involving rural doctors and sanitation/health workers.
- Covid management primarily being a health issue, unnecessary police intervention and harassment of the people should be immediately stopped.
- To deal with the pandemic, budgetary allocation for health should be enhanced along with a slashing of the defence budget.
- Anti-farmer black laws should be abolished forthwith, and as long as farmers' agitation is continuing, full-fledged Covid-testing and treatment centres should be established in all struggle centres.
An Empowered High Level Committee composed of medical experts, politicians, economists, and concerned scholars should be entrusted with the task of overseeing the implementation of the above demands.
The Party declares its solidarity with the suffering people and appeal them to unitedly come forward for compelling the regime for implementing these immediate minimum demands.
CPI (ML) Red Srar
1st May 2021