As of April 29, 2021, India has seen over 3.8 Lakh new COVID cases and countless deaths across the country. It is now every man for himself, as people are struggling for Oxygen Cylinders, Remdesivir, Flowmeters, and essential medicines. In these testing times, the already existing divide between rich and poor in the country has grown to be bigger than ever before.
Where the poor lie suffering on the streets, thousands of NRIs are safely sitting in their homes somewhere in America or the Middle East, drinking Martinis and eating rare steaks. Of course, this is nothing new. In our world, the difference between rich and poor have existed for a long time, especially in a country like India, where the caste system ensured the division of the masses into different strata with unequal rights.
In today’s article, we take a look at the instances that show the tragic divide between the privileged and the poor during the pandemic.
1. Travelling and Transport
When the country saw its first few cases of COVID-19, and before domestic and international flights could be closed, the rich of the country seized the opportunity to escape the country before things went from bad to worse and paid thousands of dollars to obtain private jets that helped them flee the nation before the country could even see its second wave.
The poor on the other hand, were surrounded by despair and sadness from all sides. With the newly imposed lockdown, thousands in the country lost their jobs, and a large sector of migrant workers suffered the most. They rushed to bus depots and railway stations in fear of another lockdown as the second wave approached. This fear was completely justified as last year hundreds if not thousands lost their lives walking back to the villages and towns they migrated from and they lost their lives before they could even see their families again.
Such is the tragic divide between the privileged and the poor in our country when it comes to traveling and transport. As always, the rich get what they want and the poor are made to suffer the consequences of the government’s carelessness.
When it comes to medicine the entire country is suffering from a collective shortage, whether it is Remdesivir or the coveted COVID vaccine. Whereas the rich have an access to any medicine of their choice by paying exorbitant sums of money, the poor are dying in the streets due to a shortage of basic healthcare medicines and lack of hygiene.
For instance, a single vial of Remdisivir is available in the black market at the rate of Rs. 50,000.
Despite the ongoing situation and crisis at hand, the rich have continued to prosper and have in fact grown in number from last year. Whereas the salaried jobs declined by 9.8 million across India, the number of Indian billionaires rose from 102 to 140 this year.
Hoarding has been a common tactic in times of crisis, pandemic, drought, and famine for ages. The rich who are able to afford it, buy goods and essential commodities from the market and store them in fear of upcoming shortage. Right now, the most essential of resources, the oxygen cylinders are being given the same treatment. The rich have purchased multiple oxygen concentrators and pulse oximeters and are storing them instead of giving them away to those in need. On the other hand, the poor face the dark reality of having to buy oxygen cylinders by standing in queues for hours on end during the time when there is an acute shortage of these resources.
During a time when the entire nation is gasping for breath, the IPL has been given a green light by the authorities and has been allowed to proceed as usual. Moreover, according to Cricbuzz, crores of rupees are being spent on the quarantine facilities of IPL Players.
All this, when the poor and the middle class are being denied treatment in hospitals due to pressure on the system from the authorities.
With the pandemic at hand, there is little scope for leisure and entertainment as it has come down to bare survival during these times. However, IPL is still being held and Bollywood Celebrities are vacationing in the Maldives amid a massive surge in cases.
Various Indian states on the other hand have imposed curfews and lockdowns to restrict the movement of people in the country to prevent the spread of the disease. Where the celebrities all united to speak against Rihanna when she tweeted out in support of the farmer’s protest, you will see no celebrities coming forward to speak in support of the thousands of poor in the country dying of COVID daily. This is the harsh but true reality of our country.
So today we discussed the implications of COVID-19 in the country and how it is affecting the poor and the rich in different ways. We saw how the rich have been able to maintain their state of privilege, while the poor have been thrown into further misery.
As the COVID situation worsens, the entire nation prays and hopes that this calamity would end soon.