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Indians are celebrating Holi and holding political rallies like there’s no pandemic

Reuters/K. K. Arora
Covid can’t stop us.
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma



Exactly one year ago, when India had just 519 cases of coronavirus, the government had decided to impose what was one of the most stringent lockdowns in the world. But now, when the country is clocking almost 60,000 fresh Covid-19 cases a day, the reaction of citizens and the government stands in stark contrast.

Yesterday (March 25), India witnessed 59,117 fresh Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day figure in the last 159 days. The western Indian state of Maharashtra, which is home to India’s financial hub Mumbai, alone reported over 35,950 new cases on March 25, which is an all-time single-day high in the state since March last year.

While experts have voiced worries that this wave—second, according to some—could be deadlier than the earlier one, most Indians don’t seem to care much.

With Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, around the corner, celebration across the country is in full swing with private parties in urban India and social gatherings in smaller towns. Images from these gatherings show how pandemic precautions such as social distancing and masks seem like a thing of the past.

For instance, below are some images from the traditional Holi celebration in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura and Vrindavan on March 25:

People in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura gathered to celebrate Holi.
Men daubed in colours take part in Lathmar Holi celebrations.
Devotees are showered with flower petals during the Holi celebrations in Mathura.

To be fair, state governments are worried and have sprung into action. Many local authorities have banned large gatherings on Holi, which falls on March 28 this year. But the rules might be too little too late.

For weeks now, Indian markets have been crowded with people returning to their pre-pandemic ways.

REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
People in a Mumbai market amid the spread of the coronavirus.

And why just regular citizens? India’s leadership itself isn’t setting good examples.

Modi’s West Bengal rallies and Covid-19

So far, India has seen a total of over 11 million cases of coronavirus. The pandemic has claimed at least 161,000 lives. And even as the figures rapidly rise each day, the country’s prime minister appears to have thrown caution to the wind.

On March 24, Narendra Modi held a rally in election-bound West Bengal’s Kanthi.

The state has already hosted several rallies, including from union home minister Amit Shah and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in recent weeks. Most social distancing norms were flouted in these rallies.

These rallies have happened despite the fact that eight people have been infected with new strains of the virus in the state.

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