We can all work together to safeguard India

New Delhi: Congress leader Shri Rahul Gandhi, writing to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 7, 2021, once again warned the Prime Minister that unless the centre did everything in its power to stop the virus, double and triple mutant strains “are only the beginning”. The detailed text of this letter is as follows:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am compelled to write to you once more as the Covid tsunami continues to ravage our country unabated. In such an unprecedented crisis, the people of India must be your foremost priority. I urge you to do everything in your power to stop the needless suffering that our people are going through.

But it is also important to understand India’s responsibility in a globalized and interconnected world. India is home to one out of every six human beings on the planet. The pandemic has demonstrated that our size, genetic diversity and complexity make India fertile ground for the virus to rapidly mutate, transforming itself into a more contagious and more dangerous form. The double and triple mutant strains that we are currently grappling with are only the beginning, I fear.

Allowing the uncontrollable spread of this virus in our country will be devastating not only for our people but also for the rest of the world.

It is, therefore, absolutely critical that we address several urgent issues without delay. We must: • Scientifically track the virus and its mutations across the country using genome sequencing as well as its disease patterns. • Dynamically assess the efficacy of all vaccines against all new mutations as they are identified. • Rapidly vaccinate our entire population. • Be transparent and keep the rest of the world informed about our findings. Your government’s lack of a clear and coherent Covid and vaccination strategy, as well as its hubris in declaring premature victory as the virus was exponentially spreading, has placed India in a highly dangerous position: today the disease is growing explosively. It is currently on the verge of overwhelming all of our systems. GOI’s failures have made another devastating national lockdown almost inevitable.

In light of this, it is critical that our people are prepared for such an eventuality. To prevent a repeat of the manifold suffering caused by last year’s lockdown, the government must act with compassion and provide critical financial and food support to our most vulnerable people. In addition, it must be ready with a transportation strategy for those who will require it.

I am aware that you are concerned about the economic impact of a lockdown. Inside and outside India, the human cost of allowing this virus to continue its march unimpeded will result in many more tragic consequences for our people than any purely economic calculations your advisors are suggesting.

In times of crisis, various stakeholders must be taken into confidence so we can all work together to safeguard India. Once again, I assure you of our support in the fight against this ferocious pandemic.

Please consider these urgent and time-sensitive suggestions.

Earlier on May 5, 2021, Shri Rahul Gandhi also attacked the centre over lack of transparency in foreign aid contributions. According to him, India received hundreds of tonnes but questions have been raised over distribution.