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Pankaj Mishra

Modi Owns India’s Unfolding Covid Disaster

But, unlike Donald Trump, he may survive his government’s deadly mishandling of the pandemic. 

Bodies are piling up at crematoriums in India. 

Bodies are piling up at crematoriums in India. 

Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images

India’s healthcare system is buckling under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic: The country registered more than 1,500 deaths and nearly 300,000 infections on Monday alone. Videos of crowded mortuaries and funeral sites, and grief-stricken relatives outside packed hospitals, are circulating among middle-class Indians. The Lancet says India could suffer more than 2,300 deaths every day by June.

As in so many of the pandemic’s worst-hit countries, this tragedy was avoidable — and is largely the fault of a boastful and incompetent government. Yet, judging by the fate of other bungling far-right politicians such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, the U.K.’s Boris Johnson, Hungary’s Viktor Urban, and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may well suffer few political consequences for his devastating missteps.