Second COVID surge crests in India

·5 min read

May 30—PLATTSBURGH — The coronavirus catastrophe in the Republic of India ripples around the planet, even here.

"I have learned that India has lost 5,000 doctors and more healthcare workers in the second round of coronavirus surge," Dr. Prem Gandhi, SUNY Plattsburgh Distinguished Professor emeritus, said.

"That is a number that is staggering since India can ill afford this loss when every healthcare worker and doctor is needed to bring the surge down.

"India has now commissioned senior medical students to assist in the hospitals."

In the past two weeks, Gandhi, and his wife, Aruna, also a college retiree, have lost two additional members in their extended family.

"Sad to learn of the loss when the immediate family members cannot be there to take care of the last rites," he said.

NATIVE SON

Gandhi was born in a region of India, which is now in Pakistan.

"When India was divided up after independence, my family moved to New Delhi," he said.

"I got my bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Delhi, a very prestigious university."

Afterward, he came to the United States to do his MBA and PhD at New York University.

He was hired at SUNY Plattsburgh in 1966.

"One thing led to the other, and I was promoted to associate professor and then full professor and then distinguished professor in 1992," he said.

Gandhi served as a dean for the School of Business and Economics from 1992 until his retirement in 2000.

INDIAN DIASPORA

Gandhi now resides in Orange County, N.Y.

"Most of my family members are in India," he said.

"In my immediate family, we have four in the family. Two of us are here, and two of us are over there. They all have their families over there.

"Every Indian family has someone, a friend or a relative or family member, who lives abroad, particularly in the United States because the United States has the best education system."

Many in his generation were attracted here for that very reason.

"You wouldn't believe the reason why I came to the United States was because there was no program for business administration at the master's level in any part of the world except for the United States," he said.

"I'm talking about when I came to this country in the late 1950s. I completed my MBA, after that I went on to start my PhD program as I was working.

"In the golden days, there used to be middle men, who used to buy accounts receivable," Gandhi said.

"Then, the clients would pay them back. After my MBA, I worked with that organization, and that was a very good experience for me to be in because I got to know the inside of the business world."

REPORTS FROM INDIA

India's COVID-19 death toll tops 300,000 as the pandemic rages as Cyclone Yaas pummels eastern India.

"I tell you what we have been hearing, what we have reading and what we've been listening to, it's no exaggeration, the coronavirus has really created a havoc in India, especially in the metro areas — Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore," Gandhi said.

"You name it, any metro city in India is suffering from the surge. And you know, it didn't have to be that way. That's what the sad part is because "India was doing so well in the first round."

India was not only able to contain the virus, but export the extra medicine throughout the neighboring countries, even to the United States, Europe, Canada, and United Kingdom.

"But in the process I think they become careless," he said.

"The administration become careless thinking that they had already licked that virus.

"So, they took certain steps, really foolish steps, in retrospective.

"Even at that time, I think there was a lot of controversy about the steps that they were taking that has led to this second surge, which is deadlier than the first one."

Now India is caught with low supplies of medicine, hospital beds, masks, and oxygen.

"It didn't have to be that way," he said.

"It's not that India doesn't have the technology or the sophistication. India is the largest producer of medicine. "Would you believe that? Yet because of the carelessness of the administration because of the missteps that they took, unfortunately it has led India to this situation.

"Now the thing is that India is short of medicine, short of every other equipment that goes in taking care of patients like the hospital beds, the masks, oxygen. You name it, India is short of that. That's the sad part.

NO ONE UNTOUCHED

Gandhi has learned from immediate family that they have all suffered.

"I have a nephew who is a medical doctor, his wife is a medical doctor," he said.

"They took the medicine, and they were still affected by the coronavirus.

"My wife's sister she is basically indoors, and she got the virus. She got the first shot, and she couldn't get the second shot because the supplies had ran out. It has hit personally at home.

"I have lost a very dear cousin because of the coronavirus. You hear the stories from the people that you know of, and each one of them has suffered whether they're in the congress, whether they're in the government, whether, they're the doctors — each one of them has suffered."

His heart goes out to Indian students at SUNY Plattsburgh.

"I'm sure that they have a family member that they must be worried sick about what is going on," he said.

Gandhi and his wife have contributed to the Red Cross in India.

"I think that is the kind of help that they need in especially in procuring medical equipment, procuring the medicine, and more than that I think it's ingredients that will go into manufacturing the medicine of the vaccinations," he said.

"India has the equipment. India has the technology. India has the personnel. I think basically what is needed. If they would provide basic ingredients at this time, I think that will be a lot of help."

Email Robin Caudell:

rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

Twitter:@RobinCaudell