New Delhi: The COVID 19 has taught us a few lessons of opportunism and exploitation and exposed the media partisan. This is an open secret now that the journalists are fed with government-controlled information that is in these times a bit difficult to cross check. Apart from this, the data of positive cases, the recovery cases and the deaths are being provided by the government agencies and since the corona quarantine wards in hospitals are out of bounds for the Press, it is just impossible to find out the realities of how the patients are being treated. IT is also not clear as to what medicines are being given to the recovering patients.
Most of the private hospitals found the COVID 19 times as the best opportunity to make extra bucks. A renowned hospital in Central Delhi which has had a list of VIPs as their patients are taking Rs 5 lakhs as a deposit from a suspected corona patient before he or she is admitted. The charges of doctors and nurses per visit to the room have been hiked to Rs 3500 per visit of the doctor. The nursing staff has to be paid a sum of Rs 2500 per visit to the patient. Apart from this, the treatment costs will be extra. Generally the sample test results are received after three days and at times there is a delay. The general expenses incurred for three to four days amount to a consolidated Rs 1.25 lakh.
Another incident is of a diabetic who went to one of the private hospital in South Delhi. He was regular to this hospital for his treatment. This time, his sugar count rose to over 500 and needed immediate attention. But the hospital authorities were out to mint money from him. He complained about his sugar increase. He was immediately admitted and the first procedure was to get his COVID 19 tested. By the time he was discharged he coughed out almost Rs 1 lakh with a negative report on COVID 19.
Imagine each private hospital of repute in Delhi is earning almost a crore rupees daily and this is what is least being highlighted in the media. The common man is the worse sufferer. Both the private and government hospitals are hardly entertaining the patients on the plea that the staff is scant.
The insurance agencies have also jumped onto the bandwagon of earning a bit of mullah now. They have started doing a 5-lakh rupees corona protection insurance for a one time premium varying between Rs 25,000 and Rs 300 only. It is estimated that over 10 crore people would go in for this insurance giving them about Rs2000 crore instantly. The different packages being offered has to be studied by the prospective insurance taker. The death rate fortunately are not that high that the insurance agencies will find this scheme to be a bad bargain.
Not only this, dozens of units have come up manufacturing PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) kits and multi-layers face masks and the certification is being given by DRDO and Citara, both which are officially recognized. There is a demand of over a crore of this kit as of now. The government, sources said, has fixed the price of PPE at Rs 1080 while the three-layered mask will be sold at Rs 2.45 paisa. This is the controlled price for delivery to defence and hospitals. The PPE can be used only once.
Several trains have started operation from across the country to ferry the migrant labourers and the media is showing it as a sunshine chapter in the dark hour of COVID 19. But thousands of migrant have not been able to get themselves registered even after waiting for hours at the offices of the authorities. The only option for them is to walk it down or cycle the way. There is a hitch in this too. The migrants at various times have been asked to retreat by the police. With no option left, some of them started taking the railway track route which most of them found to be safe as there was no obstruction of the police. This, unfortunately, resulted in a train running over several of them in Madhya Pradesh whose chief Minister appealed that the migrants should abstain from taking the railway track route. The ground realities are different which are under wraps.
Now lets talk about the government’s permission to the manufacturing units to start their operations with a 33 per cent staff and maintain the physical distance. The guidelines say that the unit owner has to inform the area District Magistrate and also the concerned health department. Now this will lead to a regular monitoring of the workers inside the unit. The health department officials will take an arbitrary decision and this may lead to corrupt practices including bribery. Once the units starts functioning it is mandatory to give salary to the entire staff – working or non-working. The business man would think of keeping its unit shut rather than paying to those who will not be working and getting their salary.
The various different travel agencies are going to be worse hit. Some of the small agencies will have to shut down their business as the tourism sector is going to see a slump for the next two years. A man running a travel agency in New Delhi, Rakesh Baweja, told this reporter that the air fares will be hiked when the services resume which will not be before September. Physical distancing will be a major problem and in case the seating capacity is decreased, the fare will increase automatically.
The much touted evacuation which will continue till May 13 and beyond perhaps has another side to its glorified take-on. The evacuated passengers have been charged Rs 1 lakhs as fare from United States while Rs 50,000 and Rs 15000 from London and Dubai respectively. This has been a joke or what. Before the shutdown, the return ticket from India to London was just Rs 40,000 and now the single fare has been Rs 50,000. Is it not disastrous to think that government has exploited the situation and paved a way for its sick Air India to muster some easy money.
The media tycoons particularly from the tv news channels have often travelled a lot but never came out with a story condemning the move. The migrant labourers was highlighted by almost all but gave a colour to it. Many of them said that it was a lack of communication as the migrants who took a long walk were not aware of the operational trains. But all interviews of the migrants were full of laments that they failed to get themselves registered even after several days of wait. The laxity of the issuing authorities was a matter to be highlighted and the erring officials should have been brought to book.
During the days of demonetization, the bank employees were working extra to finish the work every day but this time, the officials were having a gala time. Even there were lot of serpentine queues at the DM and ADM’s offices for issuing of movement pass. People at various places complained of slow-motion work.
Seeing the behavior of the people when they swarmed at the booze shops is a strong indicator that once the shutdown is lifted completely, the people will come out with a vengenance on the streets and may be the cause of spreading the disease to the next level.