After almost one-and-a-half years of the breaking out of Covid-19 pandemic, 20.7 percent of the world population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Altogether 2.4 billion doses have been administered globally, and 33.1 million are now administered a day. This seems a promising state of affairs until one tries to dig for details.
Only 0.8 percent of people in low-income countries have gotten at least one dose till date. This bleak scenario, as The Economist put it in a recent article, is not just an economic blunder but a ‘moral failure’ of the West.
Under the scrutiny of real-politick skepticism, questions of morality are the privilege of the strong. From the standpoint of a nation labelled as poor, and thus backward, mired in political and social struggles yet bubbling with a young population waiting for their turn to get exposed to the world, the current state of affairs is a cruel display of cumulative injustice compounded over centuries.
In Nepal, during this one-and-a-half years, we have seen a series of unfortunate events. When the pandemic was spreading its deadly wings across the world, and when early sufferers like Italy, the US and the UK were in panic mode, we were in delusion. Our prime minister was busy preaching sermons in the parliament on how the cold breeze of the Himalayas would cause the virus to mellow down.
Such an attitude made the government lazy in its preparation to deal with the pandemic. As the power struggle in the ruling party ripened, to the horror of all, huge mass protests and rallies were organised by both sides. In hindsight, now, the apparent stupidity of our political leaders, and the ignorance of our people, seems to be an even graver injustice than the global inequality.
As the pandemic peaked in India, we overtook our neighbour in the rate of rise of daily infections. And by mid-May, we had a higher percentage of deaths in proportion to population than India. Our hospitals ran out of beds, many private hospitals refused to take in patients with fever symptoms, and those with treatment facilities available were taking an exorbitant amount in advance for every patient.
That we have a poor nationwide health infrastructure is no secret but it has been ignored by all our governments till date. The long wars activists like Dr Govind KC have waged against the criminal-political nexus that controls the hospitals and medical institutes has got a new validity now. Extremely unregulated medical business has made the medical infrastructure and education a source of easy money for what is now known as the ‘Medical Mafia’. In this grim scenario, people are left to fend for themselves.
The situation we are in is a result of many injustices, and will be a cause of further injustice for future generations. Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs is prevalent in all sectors. As the Western world is setting forth on a path to recovery, after fully vaccinating its population by this year’s end, it is also venturing out into a new war for geo-political dominance over China while we, along with other low-income nations, are living in the fear of death under irresponsible governments.
Have we learnt enough lessons from this? Whose responsibility is it to fight against these injustices? Who will sort things out for Nepalis?
Will we, a nation with one of the youngest populations in the world with a median age of 24, learn and move swiftly to bring about a change in the political system that can make use of the window of opportunity this demographic dividend is creating? Will we learn from the repeated failures of our leaders to look after the interests of our nation and people and opt for an alternative? Under the present political system, established by the criminal-political nexus to secure their interests and maintain their unjust control over state resources, this seems a far cry.
These are the grave questions that our privileged youth, the ones who have access to education and a voice of their own, should ponder today. If our educated youths continue to be lured by better lifestyles and comfortable life in the West, there will be no one to shoulder the responsibility for curing the injustice. It is a time the youth unite to form an avant-garde force that sets an example.