Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ketkar: India shows how now is not the time to let up on restrictions

Every single person I know back home, has either contracted COVID, or someone in their family has

While the country I have called my home for all of my childhood is going through one of the most traumatic experiences, I sit here wondering how I can help from afar.

I thought long and hard whether to write about what is happening in India. It felt as if I was airing the dirty laundry of my country to my new country but the facts don’t change and the world needs to be made aware of all the things that are going wrong as well as make as many people aware so more help can pour in.

In a matter of days and months, India’s COVID-related deaths have gone up with photos of open pyres circulating in international news media. It isn’t a systemic failure though but a failure from a government for whom religion is more important than human lives, votes matter more than ensuring the safety of its people. This is the same government, elected by the people, for the people and is supposedly of the people.

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Right now, the situation in India is such that hospital beds are full, there is an acute lack of oxygen, there are insufficient vaccines, and people, the common folks like you and me, they are rallying to get help for their loved ones through social media. NGOs and individuals have come together to verify and provide accurate information for loved ones seeking blood donations, plasma donations and oxygen tanks.

And the government? The government is shutting down social media accounts of those asking for help, issuing arrest warrants against those helping, and basically doing everything in their power to divert attention and actually help its own people.

Every single person I know back home, has either contracted COVID, or has someone in their family who is COVID positive. My doctor friends are numb, depressed but unable to put their hands up and say “I give up” because if they won’t help, then who will?

Through the mess the government has made, one thing I can clearly see is the face of humanity through the people. People who are helping with money, time, food, shelter. People donating from other countries, people sending their prayers and wishes and people checking in on those like me, far away from their family and friends in India.

This mess was seemingly avoidable, especially since India’s first wave was not as bad as it has been for other countries, and things had started to open up. But people and the government both became too callous, too cavalier, and let up on the restrictions.

Lockdowns are not easy but right now, if they are necessary, I hope everyone follows them — not just back home but everywhere else in the world.

So while I sit here wondering what to do and hoping more help pours in for my people back home, I have but one thing to say with emphasis — let us all continue following all the COVID measures, continue masking up and continue keeping others around us safe.

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Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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