Skip to main content

Ayodhya, Kumbh: 85% people wanted sacred places closed, 50% 'favoured' lockdown

By Rajiv Shah 

A new Covid survey report, published by well-known human rights organisation Anhad, has said that 84.7 per cent of 2,243 respondents said it was necessary for all religious places to be closed down during the second wave of Covid-19. In sharp contrast, only 49.5 per cent supported the lockdown, with 37.5 per cent saying they were “unhappy” with it, insisting, it created problems instead of presenting a solution, 36.7 percent reported loss of earning and 32.5 percent said their freedom to move was curtailed.
Carried out among educated sections of several Indian States, the report appears to suggest, holding massive events like Kumbh at Haridwar led to the spread of the virus across the country, the report titled “The Covid Survey report The Second Pulse of the Pandemic: A Sudden Surge in the Scientific Temper during the Covid-19 Crises.”
It says, “We asked in view of second wave should all religious places be closed, if yes for how long. About 32.2 per cent of the respondents thought that the religious places should have been closed for three months, , 18.0 per cent thought that the closure should be for six months and 16 per cent believed that it should be for one year.”
Apparently blaming the way the Government of India handled the pandemic, the report says, 50.2 per cent of the respondents directly held the government responsible for the second wave”, though about 21.9 per cent thought that “people themselves were responsible.” Another 18.9 per cent believed that since the SARS-CoV-2 mutated, “the new strand was responsible for virility as well as mortality during the second wave.”
The report – authored by Gauhar Raza, former professor at the The Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research and chief scientist at the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources; and Surjit Singh, asociate professor, Indira Gandhi University, Meerpur, Rewari, who has served at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for 35 years – adds, “Almost one in ten respondents thought that the religious places must be closed for ever. An equal number (9.5%) emphatically argued for ‘no closure'. 11.9 per cent were non-committal.”
The report further says, “In answer to the question, India has large number of religious places, do you think we need more hospitals compared to religious places, quite clearly and overwhelmingly Indian citizens were found to be in favour of hospitals instead of religious places. In response to this question about 90 per cent of the respondents have voted for constructing more hospital compared to religious places. Construction of religious places garnered only 2.2 per cent votes.”
The report comments, “Ironically, the government has refused to stop expenditure on religious places and use the funds to strengthen the health infrastructure. Even during the period of profound grief and deaths when in other countries, rich and poor alike woke up to stop expenditure on non-essential projects in India the construction of new parliamentary vista was not put to a halt, instead the government passed special guidelines to continue the work.”
It continues, “Way back in October 2020, many groups of scientists had warned that the pandemic may intensify in future and the predictive models had suggested curative measures. Instead of paying heed to what was being advised, as the number of cases reduced, political leadership and policy makers hurried to take credit. Patting the backs, they claimed that their policies and decisions saved lives. They allowed and organized Kumbh Mela, religious gathering, open religious places and held political rallies where hundreds of thousands congregated without observing Covid protocol.”
Also taking strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating construction of a “massive temple at a disputed site in Ayodhya”, the report says, as for the Kumbh Mela, organised at Haridwar, “The State government of Uttaranchal advertised the event and welcomed people from all over the country and millions participated.”
When asked from where the pandemic had come, respondents overwhelmingly (74 per cent) “understood” that it was “brought into the country by those who had come from abroad”, the report says, though adding, just about 4.9 per cent “thought that it has been brought and spread into the country by Tablighi Jamat, which is a religious organization of Sunni Muslims.” Interestingly, “About 4.4 per cent blamed the rich and 0.3 per cent thought the poor must be blamed for spreading the scourge.”
The authors believe, “The virus known as the Delta variant had emerged in parts of Maharashtra, and due to laxity”, and it got “a chance to spread rapidly through the country and the world”, adding, “There was mayhem in India with its weak health system, especially in the vast hinterland. Infections and deaths grew exponentially in March 2021. Super spreader events (elections and Kumbh) helped spread it. Allowing these events was a political decision by the Centre – a big mistake.”
Those who helped carry out the survey on the basis of data collected through online and offline questionnaire included Leena Dabiru, legal and development consultant, and Shabnam Hashmi, social activist and founder, Anhad. Of those who surveyed were from Delhi (17.3%), followed by Maharashtra (11.9%), Haryana (11.3%) and Gujarat (11.0%), Uttar Pradesh (7.3%), Jammu and Kashmir (6.9%) and Madhya Pradesh (5.2%).
“The intensity of Covid-19 pandemic did not permit us to conduct face-to-face interviews and therefore we could not approach those who do not have reading and writing skills”, the report says. “As a result the level of education of the sampled population was quite high with 35.9 per cent graduates and 36.3 percent post-graduates.”

Comments

Neither the UPA government nor the NDA--past and present--has spent on health infrastructure. The problem is that this time it was essential to give it priority, which the government failed to do.

TRENDING

What's behind public sector banks showing huge profits in 2nd quarter of 2022-23?

By Thomas Franco*  The quarter two results of the public sector banks (PSBs) appear to be noteworthy compared to a few years ago. All these banks showed good profits in the financial year 2021-22. Twelve PSBs made a net profit of Rs 25,685 crore in quarter 2 of FY23 and a total of Rs 40,991 crore in the first half of 2023. The combined profit of 12 banks in March 2022 was Rs 66,539 crore which was 110% more than 2021 – Rs. 31,816 crore. The Asset Quality Review of 2015 saw a surge in NPAs of PSBs jumping to Rs 8.96 lakh crore in March 2018 from Rs 2.17 lakh crore in March 2014. This was simply because the norms for NPAs were changed from 180 days to 90 days, and all restructuring of even genuine accounts was done away with. In 2018 NPA of SBI was 5.73% which has come down to 0.8% in Q2 of FY23. The NPA of Canara Bank has come down to 2.19% from 7.48% in Mar 2018. The same trend is seen in all public banks. Now SBI has seen a jump of 74% in its net profit, while Canara Bank’s profit is

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Business back to normal? IIM-A survey says, sales expectations have sharply improved

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management’s Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which polls a panel of business leaders to find out their perception of slack in economy, including their inflation expectations, year-ahead cost expectations and the factors influencing price changes, such as profit and sales levels, etc., has said that the cost perceptions data indicates signs of moderation in price pressures. Carried out for September, the survey says, the cost pressure of the reporting firms has shifted from “very significant increase (over 6%) to moderate increase (3.1% to 6%).” It adds, “The percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has declined. Over 21% of the firms in September 2022 round of the survey perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – down from 26% recorded in August 2022.” Claiming to be a unique survey, in that it goes straight to businesses -- the price setters -- rather than to consumers or household

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

GoI's productivity linked incentives to corporates 'without independent analysis'

Counterview Desk  Wondering how prudent is the Government of India's (GoI's) Productivity Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, EAS Sarma, former secretary, GoI, in a representation to Nirmala Sitharaman, Union finance minister, has said it appears to be nothing more than subsidy to the private sector without any responsibility. Giving a specific example against the backdrop of announcement of 50% subsidy covering the project cost of the Vedanta Group's decision to set up a semiconductor fabrication plant in Gujarat, in collaboration with Foxconn, Sarma says, "The total cost of this project is reported to be Rs 1,54,000 crore. 50% of this works out to Rs 77,000 crore." Stating that this creates the impression that the entire subsidy allocation for the semiconductor manufacturing sector would be appropriated by this company, Sarma says, "The Gujarat government did not lag behind in liberally announcing similar incentives for the Vedanta-Foxconn project. It offered 7

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Amit Shah accused of inciting communal passion: Demand to postpone Gujarat polls

Counterview Desk  In an email representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has objected to the statement reported to have been made by Union home minister Amit Shah, who allegedly justified the 2002 Gujarat riots stating that certain sections of people “taught a lesson” to the rioters. Noting that the statement, if correct, “in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands”, Sarma says, “Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the ECI in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience.” According to Sarma, if the statement is true, “I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted th