Bring our people home and do more to help India

Contributed from Victoria

Indian Australian leaders have condemned the stopping of ordinary people form returning from India, and the threat of huge fines and imprisonment if they try. They have pointed out the hypocrisy, when at the same  time, cricket players  are allowed in on a charter flight. Different rules apply to different  people.

No wonder members of the Indian community in Australia have hit out at what they claim to be racism.

Sydney Sindhi Association President Naveen Nankani said, bringing cricketers home, when so many Australian citizens are in dire situations, is not a good look for Cricket Australia.

India is going through a devastating toll in terms of the numbers infected  and dying from an especially virulent form of Covid-19, and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has adopted the Donald Trump style and does little about it. The result is  a catastrophe. That other nations take precautions is hardly surprising.

Photo by Money Sharma/AFP/Getty: Bodies lined up before mass cremation in New Delhi

But to single out one group to be treated differently is wrong. The same was not done to Americans or British when those two countries were leading the world in infection rates.

Australia has the capacity to bring in our own citizens. It is not such a big thing to put them into quarantine on Australian soil. This would threaten no one. It would  be an act of compassion, and who could deny that we need a little more of this?

The failure to do this will leave behind a bitter taste, adding pone more episode that divides Australians into sperate groups, where one is treated as less than others.

Australia could be doing much more to help the people of India. The sending of oxygen is good and  undoubtedly appreciated by those at the receiving end. But Australia could also play a role in encouraging a global and coordinated response. Imagine what a multi-nation task force supporting the collapsing health system and bringing in medical personnel, equipment and medicine could achieve.

Instead of this there is bickering and  manipulation, using the  tragedy for political point scoring.  There is no properly coordinated response. Particularly troubling is the pressure not to accept help form China, which is a next-door neighbour, has the capacity to do a lot, and has offered to do so, free of charge.

Photo by Altarf Qadri/AFP/Getty: Covid Victim waiting for treatment breathing thanks to receiving oxygen

China is accused of using  aid to make itself look good. So what? Other nations could just as easily be accused of doing the same. The point is that this is a crisis and help is  being offered. It is not a time to play political games.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping sent Modi a condolence message in which he said:

“Mankind is a community of common destiny sharing weal and woe and only through unity and cooperation can the nations of the world ultimately overcome the pandemic.”

China is sending 25,000 oxygen concentrators, 5,000 ventilators and 21,000 oxygen generators. Aid has been raised from the Chinese Red Cross, Chinese local governments, non-government organisations, and business enterprises, as well as from the state.

Although the United States is sending aid, there  is a refusal to sending ingredients to enable India to manufacture its own vaccines. Why? The official reason is that the American people are being looked after first. The real reason is that there is a deal to help pharmaceutical companies – Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca  – to maintain monopoly control over the supply of vaccines.

Photo by Prakash Solanki/AP/Getty: Young victim being brought in for help

According to Oxfam, just three of these companies, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca, have made a fortune in the last year and paid shareholders $US26 billion. They are profiteering from the pandemic.

Estimates are that Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca combined have paid out US$26 billion in dividends and stock buy backs to shareholders in the past year. Governments should not permit this, especially since much of the research cost, $US12 billion put in by governments came from taxpayers.

Australia is playing along with this handout to the pharmaceutical companies and the aid related political games. It must stop.

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