Actor-philanthropist Sonu Sood, who has been arranging oxygen, hospital beds and medicines for people as the country battles the second wave of coronavirus, says every call for help is a realisation of the system’s failure to protect its citizens.
Sood spoke to journalist Barkha Dutt at length about the shortage of oxygen in the capital, lack of hospital beds and the mental trauma that people have to bear after losing their loved ones not to the virus, but delayed treatment.
The actor said his heart breaks thinking of the less-privileged who don’t even have a shot at treatment due to lack of financial and social resources. Sonu went on to say that he was grateful to God that his parents weren’t alive because he couldn’t imagine how helpless he would have been if they contracted the coronavirus.
He told Mojo, “My parents are no more, and sometimes I think thank God they are no more because imagine they would have been helpless and I would have been running around for them. You feel like a failed human being if you are not able to get oxygen for your loved ones. You feel what have I achieved in life. I am getting calls from the most well-established people who have big houses in Delhi, and they say, ‘Please get me just one bed.’”
“Imagine how helpless they are. Imagine what will happen to a common person or a poor person who has no resources. Who will take care of them? Nothing can be worse than this. At least, oxygen is my right. A hospital is my right. If we say one lakh people have died, then imagine if we had one lakh more beds, these people would have been saved. The people who have died didn’t deserve to die. They are dying because they are not getting the treatment at the right time. Someone’s oxygen drops from 88 to 60 because he or she didn’t get a bed or oxygen. How are the families of these people going to lead their lives? They will live as failed humans. We all have also failed as humans,” an emotional Sood added.
When asked why he believed the present situation was a collective failure, the actor said only a meagre part of the country’s GDP is allocated for healthcare, which is telling of the unprecedented health crisis India is facing today. Sood said people need urgent help, and the government should act now.
He further told Mojo, “We have been hearing since our childhood that we should make hospitals and focus on healthcare, and we spend one-two percent of our GDP on our healthcare. The country has learnt that healthcare should be robust. But this learning has come at what cost? When lakhs of our people have died. These innocent people deserved to live. Their only fault was that they were born at a time when correct decisions were not taken and they weren’t provided with the right system. I don’t know if future generations will get the right system, but it’s important to take that call that makes sure people get it. People today don’t have money for cremation. I have appealed earlier for the government to make cremation free. I get calls for cremation every day. I feel helpless that I can’t call authorities at shamshan ghats and ask them to allow someone to cremate the bodies of their loved ones before someone else’s. I can’t do that.”
Sonu Sood reiterated his appeal to the government to ensure free education for all children who have lost one or both the parents to Covid-19. He said if the government follows his advice, people would at least feel hopeful that “someone’s standing by us.”
He said, “Children are losing parents and grandparents. If the government makes a law today that the education of all children who have lost either or both the parents should be free for life, people will feel there’s someone standing by us. When are we going to support them? I feel helpless. I get to know about new problems every day, and I feel which country are we living in?”
Sonu Sood’s suggestion to the government found support in colleague Priyanka Chopra who, in an Instagram post, lauded the actor’s efforts in mitigating the Covid-19 emergency in the country.
“Have you heard of visionary philanthropists? My colleague @sonu_sood is one such. He thinks and plans ahead. Think this one out carefully because the impact is long-term, and it involves children—amongst the many horror stories of the pandemic. This is regarding those children who have lost one or both parents due to COVID-19. The disruption, for many, sadly leads to a complete stop in their education due to the combination of loss and economic factors due to that loss,” read a part of Priyanka’s post.