We are not all equally responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 being so destructive. Ever since the second week of April, when the second wave of COVID was truly taking the form of a Tsunami, I saw people trying to convince others that there is very little that could have been done, that no one could have seen this coming or that we, the people, are also to blame because we went lax with out precautions and started thinking the pandemic was over.

But the pandemic was over, wasn’t it? At least, that is what our leaders and our media told us. As the cases continued to decline daily, there was a time when India had just slightly more than 200,000 active cases in the whole country. We were looking forward to the economic bump that we were told was coming, the vaccine rollout had begun, the worst seemed to behind us and we were all looking forward to returning to normalcy.

In this article, I am going to share my views on why I don’t think that the common man is ‘equally’ responsible for the second wave as the bureaucracy and the leader who must not be named.

Ever since the pandemic first knocked on our doors, I had been bending towards giving the leeway to the Indian government. We had not seen something like this coming in the past. Lets be honest, we all know that the healthcare infrastructure in India is not great. We knew this last year. We have known this for decades. We know there has been progress in healthcare, but slowly. With this in mind, last year, I was ready to follow whatever it was that I was asked to do to keep myself safe from the coronavirus. When the lockdown was announced on 24 March, I knew that it was very sudden, but I also understood that it was the need of the hour. It had to be done. We were helpless. And last year, the messaging from everyone was uniform as well. The PM, other ministers, CMs, bureaucrats, community leaders, everyone asked people to maintain caution. We listened. We obeyed.

Then came 2021. Almost all of the restrictions had been lifted. The vaccination drive had been started. Places were open and full again. Life seemed to be returning to normal. In this time, unknown to the common man, there were warnings given to people in the government that there is a second wave coming which could overwhelm our healthcare system. The centre passed this info on to the state governments and asked them to be ready. All of this was happening behind the back of the common man.

I ask you this, how would you know that there is a second wave coming, that is going to be as bad as it is, when you see your leaders claiming victory over the pandemic? It is no excuse to not wear a mask, but could you really be blamed if you thought you could hang out with friends over dinner again, that you could go out for food without hesitation, or that you could travel to meet people you hadn’t met in ages? Did you know what was coming? You didn’t. The government did.

At the same time, the vaccination drive was moving along. I was impressed that my dad, who is a healthcare worker, got to schedule his shot just a few weeks into the rollout. It all seemed smooth but turns out it was too slow. So, while the govt. officials knew that there might be a second wave on its way, they ensured that only the central government gets to distribute vaccines to the states. States couldn’t buy their own vaccines, place their own orders or anything like that. And again, all of this was behind our back. So, while I was okay with a slow vaccination drive, as long as the cases were under control, why hurry up right?

The fact that even in May, 2021, with two vaccines in our hand, we are still forced to put states under lockdown shows that there has been a massive failure. Where? I think we all know where the buck stops but are too afraid to say it.

And now, I have people come up to me to say that we are ‘all’ responsible for this.

We are not.

I didn’t get to decide how many vaccines we need to order to ensure our population is vaccinated. Its not as if we suddenly went to a population of 1.3 billion. We have always known it since the pandemic started.

I didn’t get to decide which state gets how much oxygen.

I didn’t decide to deconstruct covid care facilities even when there were warnings of a second wave.

I didn’t know that there will be a second wave but clearly, enough of our leaders knew, and they did nothing.

I was asked to wear a mask and wash my hands often. I did that. Many did not. Why would they when they are told that the pandemic has been defeated once and for all?

So before you myopically say that this is all our fault, make sure you understand how much control you have over the things that are going wrong.

Its hard to not feel helpless when you are bearing the brunt of someone else’s mistakes. Its obvious where the large share of the responsibility lies here. You are just too afraid to admit it.