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I lost my father to covid-19 — along with my faith in India’s government to protect our people - Barkha Dutt


Active member
She may not be a popular person In the Hindu, Nationalist crowd but she has a following outside India. This piece is an opinion on the basis of her experience.

For 15 months I have been heartbroken.
I’ve been on the front line reporting the covid -19 pandemic from across India. Heartbroken, first by witnessing the searing impact of the 2020 national lockdown on India’s poorest citizens.

My psyche was increasingly bruised as I reported from ICUs, cremation grounds and graveyards to chronicle how covid’s second wave ravaged my entirely unprepared country.
On April 27, the news hit home for me in the worst way. I lost my father, Speedy Dutt, to covid.

My father was a man of science. He was horrified at the lack of preparedness for what all experts warned was coming. His infection seemed mild and initially manageable at home and when his fever spiked, I promised him I’d get him back from the hospital after a few days.

I failed.
Because of India’s overstretched health system, we had to use a private ambulance to rush him to the hospital. The so-called ambulance was nothing more than a repurposed old car, without a paramedic or a stretcher. It had a single oxygen cylinder in the back. The driver assured me that the oxygen cylinder was fine. It was only when we reached the hospital that we discovered that my father had not gotten enough high-flow oxygen and as a result, his oxygen levels had plummeted. He went straight into ICU, and was on a ventilator for two days. After five days, he passed away at the age of 84.

I am haunted by unrelenting sorrow and doubts about what I could have done differently.

I am also angry, filled with rage at a government whose top officials continue to lie to the Indian people about the scale of the calamity.
This week, India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court there is no oxygen deficit in India. Two days after his comments, 12 people, including a doctor, died in the ICU of a covid hospital as oxygen supply ran short. It’s the third such set of fatalities in 10 days.
Meanwhile, Indians are dying on the streets. One hour from the capital, outside a gurudwara, a Sikh place of worship, in scenes straight from an apocalyptical science fiction film, an oxygen “langar” — has replaced the free food normally distributed at the shrine. Tearful, desperate people from all walks of life who have been turned away from hospitals, form scrums to access oxygen. A cylinder is strapped to their mouths for half an hour at a time, rationing out a few moments of extra life.

The official death count is 222,000, but my reporting from funeral grounds informs me the number is at least four times higher. In Delhi, the undertaker at just one site told me he cremated 30 bodies at the peak of the first wave in 2020; now he has been burning more than 100 bodies every night.

One thing we have to understand is hospitals all over the world were NOT built to handle a tsunami pandemic.

This is faced by all countries.
The usual day to day quota of equipments and medical supplies were enough but it isnt now because the world is undergoing a pandemic.

The only thing we can all do as humans right now is to get REAL!

We need to face the fact that death could be knocking at our door.
So its not time to Bhajo Govindam and think God will save us without doing anything to save ourselves and others.

We can see for ourselves that though India is facing a total meltdown but help is arriving from other countries too...God does give us help through the form of donation from others.

But what went wrong in India or any other country?
We take things too lightly and still want to celebrate in groups and family gatherings for various religious reasons.

Also some who are " spiritual" go around with a false sense of immunity thinking just because they do pranayama and yoga they wont get COVID 19.
These types think nothing can harm them.

Now just say if any country prepared much ahead for a non existant pandemic..what would have happened,?
These same journalists would say " the government is wasting money for non existant diseases,"..

But now when there is a pandemic everyone complains there isnt enough facilities.

So either way people would complain.
This is sickening cos complaining wont help nor change.

The harsh reality is we still are in a prison pf covid 19.
Most pandemics in the past took 2 or more years to stabilize.
These days it could take longer cos humans cant sit still..they just need to travel here and there...contributing to a greater spread to diseases.

Anyway I am pretty sure if Barkha Dutt was in any other country too she would have lost faith in something or the other.

Some people are just addicted to lamenting.

We should learn to stop lamenting and be hands on in approach...no one can protect us humans except ourselves.

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