We at May Day are heartbroken and outraged by the chaos and suffering currently inflicted on the people of India during a second outbreak of the coronavirus.
The Covid variants, including a “double mutant” strain (meaning a strain with two mutations in other variants now appearing together in its genetic code) were first detected in western India. By the end of April, India was setting global records for new daily infections, and now reports well over 300,000 new cases daily. The new Covid variants are more infectious, easier to transmit, and doctors report that they are spreading far more rapidly among the youth in this second wave than in the first.
Now, India’s official count of the dead is at over 200,000, with 3,000 deaths added every day. But with a shortage of tests and a caseload higher than that of the first wave, the true death toll is undoubtedly higher, possibly 30 times higher.
Patients are sleeping two to a bed in city hospitals. Oxygen canisters move swiftly on the black market while prices for antiviral drugs soar. Parking lots are converted to mass cremation grounds. There is not enough equipment and medicine to treat people while they are alive, and barely enough fuel to cremate them after death. As cities lock down on their own initiative, migrant workers are being sent back to their home states, bringing the infection to the countryside with no quarantine centers in place to mitigate its spread.
This crisis was preventable.
What the bourgeoisie is calling a “humanitarian crisis” is really a class crisis. Narendra Modi and the fascist BJP in the Indian government squandered the chance to improve India’s health system before the predicted second wave hit. Instead, Modi and his party shouted, “Mission Accomplished,” encouraged opening up, and let the media channels boost their triumphalist narrative. They encouraged and funded superspreader rallies leading up to the elections. India is a world capital of Covid vaccine production, while only 0.2% of its own population can be vaccinated per day, and entire states experience shortages. All the while, Modi makes his insulting appeals to Atmanirbhar Bharat, to self-reliant India. The coronavirus has been used as an occasion for the Hindutva nationalists in power to fund research in the medicinal effects of a chant from the Rig Veda. Thus, the BJP propagates anti-science and demagoguery, further polarizing a burning society along communitarian lines.
Incompetence at the state level, complacency and contempt from leaders at the very top; these are the reasons for the current calamity. When they were not censoring social media posts to preserve their image, the fascists in India’s government dedicated their time and resources to grandiose real estate projects such as the Central Vista building in New Delhi. Such is their morbid legacy: a vanity palace constructed on the foundations of the dead.
The working masses of India will not soon forget the crimes and negligence of their ruling class.
The May Day Student Organization stands with our revolutionary comrades in India in calling for the immediate nationalization of the entire health system across the country. We declare with our comrades that the right to health is a fundamental right to all. The same health services must be provided universally and for free. These measures would include taking every hospital, nursing home, and pathology lab out of private hands; converting stadiums, halls, hotels, and government buildings into coronavirus centers; large scale hiring of doctors and health workers; immediately establishing new oxygen plants and recruiting workers; and devising a universal distribution system of rations to feed every citizen. In such a crisis, the immediate task is to protect the lives of the people.
The pandemic has shown us that an economic system based on profitability will only lead to more illness, starvation, poverty, endemic despair, and death for the masses. We must tirelessly educate and agitate for the necessity and inevitability of a new system, created by workers in power, based on meeting human needs on the widest scale. We must work for socialist revolution – in India, in the US, in all countries of the world.