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As India gasps for air, a government “still in denial”

According to Delhi-based journalist Barkha Dutt, while the Indian government has finally started to mobilize in response to the COVID crisis, there's still a lot of denial about the severity of the ourbreak. "Our Health Minister, for instance, made a statement in the last 24 hours saying that India is better equipped to fight COVID in 2021 than in 2020. That's simply rubbish. We had India's Solicitor General telling the Supreme Court that there is no oxygen deficit as of now. That's simply not true." In an interview on GZERO World, Dutt tells Ian Bremmer that only the connection between fellow Indians, helping each other when the government cannot, has been a salve.

Watch the episode: India's COVID calamity

How did India’s second COVID wave get so bad?

There have been well over 18 million confirmed cases of COVID in India, second now globally to only the United States. Hundreds of thousands of new infections daily and already more than 200,000 reported deaths—though experts say that number could be 5 or even 10 times higher. Epidemiologists fear the infection rate could be as high as half a million per day by August, with as many as a million dead. India, as one newspaper headline put it, is a ship adrift. So, how did this happen? What does this all mean for India, for Narendra Modi, and for the world?

Watch the episode: India's COVID calamity

India’s “Darwinian” COVID response: “Indians have been left to fend for themselves”

"It feels like citizens have been left to fend for themselves. It's almost sort of Darwinian. You have a sense of starring in your own worst science fiction survivor movie, where it's up to you if you survive," says Barkha Dutt, an Indian journalist who just lost her father to COVID and has tested positive for the virus herself. A year into the pandemic, India's government has not properly prepared its hospitals and health care workers, forcing desperate families to run from hospital to hospital looking for help, she tells Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: India's COVID calamity

Did “complacency” cause India’s COVID explosion?

In January 2021, after India got its vaccination program underway, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared victory over "controlling corona" at the World Economic Forum. But within weeks, those words would come back to haunt him. Ian Bremmer asks Delhi-based journalist Barkha Dutt what she thinks went wrong. "I think the complacency set in because, as a percentage of infections, the fatalities seemed to be not as high as the rest of the world… but it doesn't explain to me why we should've got lulled into not needing contingencies." Their discussion about India's COVID crisis is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Watch the episode: India's COVID calamity

How one Indian-American couple raised over $500k to send oxygen equipment to Delhi

An Indian-American family in California decided to take action after acquaintances, friends, relatives and finally their own parents in Delhi became sick from COVID as the city was overwhelmed by the outbreak. In just a few days, they organized a massive logistical and fundraising effort to send critical oxygen equipment to Delhi. "We came across oxygen concentrators as one of the major needs in Delhi, as oxygen supplies were low, and agencies, hospitals, and nursing facilities were running out of oxygen and putting out SOS messages." The couple explains how they have partnered with SaveLIFE Foundation, an organization out of Delhi working directly with the local government. "India needs all the help that it can at this point in time."

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India’s COVID calamity

India's latest COVID explosion hits home as one Delhi-based journalist speaks with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World about her own father's death from the virus. Barkha Dutt has been reporting on the pandemic in India since it began, but nothing could prepare her for the catastrophic second wave that has hit her country in the last few weeks—and that has now shattered her own family. Would her father have survived if the oxygen tank in his ambulance had been working, or if the ambulance hadn't gotten stuck in Delhi traffic? She asks similar questions of her national government. Why was it caught so unprepared by this second wave, well over a year into the pandemic? Why has India, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, been so slow to vaccinate its own citizens? And how much of the blame falls at the feet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

The politics of COVID aid and compassion: India vs Brazil

While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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What We're Watching: Colombians hit the streets, Indian state elections, Turkey locks down

Protests are back in Colombia: This week, tens of thousands of Colombians hit the streets of the country's big cities in the first major wave of street action since the late 2019 mass protests over inequality. The primary trigger for the current demonstrations was a major proposed tax increase. The government says the tax hike is necessary in order to give the state the resources it needs to pull Colombia out of the COVID-induced economic crisis, but critics say that some of its provisions — in particular services taxes — inflict too much of a burden on an already-suffering middle class. Protesters also highlighted other issues, such as the unchecked killing of social activists, broadening insecurity in the country, and frustration with the slow pace of the five-year old peace process. When GZERO Media spoke to prominent Colombian journalist Camila Zuluaga last year, she warned that pent-up grievances from before the pandemic would lead to a fresh "social explosion" this year. It looks like the fuse has been lit. The next major protest has been called for May 19.

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