Today is World Nursing Day, and I think we could all get behind a hashtag like #ThankYouNurses. But India's nursing staff need more than that, to keep fighting the second wave.
Few of us have any idea how much physical and psychological strain nurses have been enduring. A thread.
1. Before the pandemic, nursing as a profession was given little respect, *severely* underpaid, and thus understaffed across the country.
I spoke to Usha Krishna Kumar, of the Nurses' Welfare Association, on how we can support nurses better:
2. The daily demands in Covid wards, ICUs, but also home-care, are shattering - tending to routine care, medical crises and deaths, every day, all in full PPE in the summer heat.
What reward do many nurses receive for risking their lives to save ours? Rs 15,000-20,000 per month.
3. Struggling through extended shifts in full PPE means no way to eat or drink tea, no toilet breaks, no changing a sanitary pad if you need to.
-- In my video intro, I quoted a nurse at Delhi's LNJP, who has to go home to a pregnant partner. Source:…
4. More than doctors, nurses have the most exposure to Covid patients, and face the most risk of infection. That's true even if they've been vaccinated.
The Trained Nurses' Association of India remembers each month's known 'Covid martyrs'. Please RT them:
5. What shocked me - but shouldn't have - is that becoming India's pandemic heroes hasn't meant any improvement in nurses' salaries, terms, or working conditions.
Some nurses still don't have insurance; in government hospitals, many are still retained as contract workers.
6. In many countries, the 2020 lockdowns prompted people to notice how the most ill-paid and denigrated jobs (bus drivers, cleaners, garbage removal) turned out to be society's 'essential workers' -- and deserved corresponding pay and dignity...
7. We need to notice the same in India, and in the middle of this second wave, nurses deserve it most of all. #ThankYouNurses
8. “Every time I came back home from quarantine, I saw people pouring turmeric and neem water on the path I walked...
The stigma is tougher to handle than the virus.”
Nisha, after working as a nurse for 10 years takes home Rs 15,000 p.m. @PARInetwork:…
Dr Devi Shetty's viral (in a good way) lecture remains worth watching, from 05:30, he makes the crucial point that our shortage of medical resources – oxygen, drugs, ventilators – is the smaller challenge, compared to our critical shortage of nursing staff
10. Many nurses are men, but it's inescapable that nursing has been so underpaid and undervalued because it's mostly women.
It's similar with anganwadi and waste workers: all doing essential work through the pandemic, even as they're pushed into ad hoc, informal employment.
11. The comparison to defence services should be more than just metaphorical. As one sanitation worker told Dr. Barbara Harriss White, they deserve to literally be employed and organised along those lines – as #armies for health, social and waste services.
12. With that should come compensation, not just for training and labour, but for the traumatising effects of serving in Covid wards and ICUs in the second wave.
The emergency induction of young nurses, still finishing the GNM, could push that psychological exposure much higher.
13. Instead, as our country drowns in the second wave, the people pulling us back to dry land may not even receive a living wage. Or decent quarters, or a pension to live on when they retire.

(And some empty statements like this)
14. Two nurses, photographed by @rohini_mohan, speaking from a Covid ICU to a non-Covid area in the pediatric ward of a Bangalore hospital: where they are caring for two Covid +ve children, aged 5 and 7, who are in critical condition.
[Quite fittingly, I was struggling through vaccine side-effects and sweating out my fever while we shot this video. I relied on @vandana_menon and others to gather this material & other research]
15. If you want to read one deeply knowledgeable article on Indian nurses and why they get such a bad deal, I strongly recommend this in @thecaravanindia - published between the first and second waves.…

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More from @rkarnad

10 May
Natasha Narwal, a young activist leader held in jail, has lost her only parent to Covid. She could not speak to him before he died.
Last August, the imprisoned activist GN Saibaba was refused a video call to see his dying mother one last time. A video call. /n
Of India's hundreds of thousands of Covid 19 deaths, this could be the most emblematic.
A young woman who led protests to defend an inclusive, Constitutional India is imprisoned on charges of leading a deadly communal pogrom... /n
Through India's first lockdown, the Home Ministry and Delhi police occupy themselves with locking up protest leaders, based on a feeble theory of a 'conspiracy'.

In May 2020, Narwal and D. Kalita were arrested, granted bail -- then rearrested in minutes on murder charges... /n
Read 5 tweets
4 May
One of the early stories I reported was from panchayat polls in #Nandigram, soon after the farmers' rebellion, just as Mamata began to topple the CPIM edifice.
It was an illustration, and a caution, about interpreting images of violence during polls in West Bengal /n
The intimidation and violence, even sexual assault, mostly by the CPIM cadre, was serious. On polling day, the CRPF was heavily deployed, led by an admired DIG Alok Raj.

I was with a patrol when two TMC activists approached, asking for help at a village called Garupara /n
They said CPM men were obstructing the way there and scaring off voters.

We followed them. On the path we found a woman, so old her torso was lined like a leaf, knocked to the ground by goons. The local CPM candidate left the scene on a bike as we arrived, visibly sneering. /n
Read 16 tweets
14 Apr
On the 130th #AmbedkarJayanti, a short thread on a milestone in his life, described as the "Beginning of a New Era" – when he was appointed to the Viceroy's Executive Council at the height of the WW2...
2. In July 1941, to win support for the war-effort, the Viceroy of India agreed to expand his Executive Council, the cabinet in charge of the Central government. He would appoint eight ‘representative Indians’ -- all of course, from the social elite.
3. With his appointments, he had left out the Indian politician most staunchly supportive of the war – and a leader with a mass following – BR Ambedkar of the Independent Labour Party.
Read 15 tweets
11 Feb
A @YouTube video, trending on Twitter this morning, called for Indian journalists - including my friends and colleagues - to be 'hanged to death' for treason. It had half a million views before it was taken down just now. (1/3)
Alongside threats, the video explicitly named @BDUTT @zoo_bear @dhruv_rathee @khanumarfa @TheDeshBhakt @SaketGokhale @RanaAyyub @missanabeem @fayedsouza & websites like @thenewsminute as conspirators; it also implied that the journalists aim to assassinate the video-creator (2/3)
The video claimed to 'prove' that these orgs were conspiring to 'destroy India'. It said said the news sites mentioned in the farmers' protest #toolkit were also endorsed in a thread by @missanabeem, and also formed the DIGIPUB News Foundation in Oct 2020. That's it. (3/3)
Read 4 tweets
3 Feb
Since tweets by @rihanna and @miakhalifa are now considered 'external forces' and 'foreign interference', a small reminder... During the first Emergency, the Sangh's main line of dissent was through foreign press, governments, activists, and funding.
A short thread.
(2) The RSS has a fanciful mythology of its resistance within India, but there's not much evidence of it. @Swamy39 wrote in the year 2000 that ‘most of the leaders of the BJP/RSS had betrayed the struggle against the Emergency,’ offering ‘to work for the nation’s tormentors’...
(3) Instead it was overseas intelligentsia (from the Left) who gave the anti-Emergency movement early moral support. But Sangh leaders like Makarand Desai also lobbied @nytimes & other Western papers to editorialise on the silencing of dissent & capture of the judiciary in India.
Read 10 tweets
8 Jan
Why don't we stop describing the violent arrest of #MunawarFaruqui as a case of free speech vs religious sentiments. That's already false.

It's a case-study of the new political entrepreneurship: find ways to criminalise Muslims... advance in The Party. Zero sentiments involved.
(2) Just consider the bare facts: After he's beaten, arrested and denied bail, police say there is "no evidence against him".
But the vigilante who went for him, the son of an MLA (classic), is being paraded on @zeenews shows tagged "हिंदू का अपमान सबसे आसान
(3) And even been graciously, patiently interviewed by @BDUTT on @themojostory and given space to flaunt his wounded 'religious sentiments'. Recognition and a platform from a central figure of the liberal press.
That interview is now his pinned tweet, of course.
Read 9 tweets

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