And it was only going to get worse. Each day since April 22, the country has reported more than 300,000 new cases -- at times, up to half of the daily cases reported globally. The capital New Delhi is now running out of wood for cremations. Hospitals are full and lacking oxygen. Only 2% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Foreign leaders are now rushing to India's aid.
While Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Narendra Taneja told CNNthis week that responsibility for India's second wave belonged "first and foremost" to the government, he maintained the crisis could not have been foreseen -- despite countless countries being battered by second waves as new variants emerged globally.
Others in Modi's orbit have argued state governments are to blame for not imposing regional lockdowns and mismanaging their health care systems. Last weekend, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said oxygen shortages at hospitals were a problem not of supply but distribution, which he claimed was the responsibility of state governments.