Skip to main content

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj* 

As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.
The national interest, a term synonymous with the public interest and welfare, means protection of people’s life and liberty as a value, over and above those enshrined in the Constitutional, such as democracy, socialism, and secularism.
Notwithstanding government figures, as many as 3.4 to 4.7 million people may have died due to the pandemic in the country so far, with hundreds being added daily to the growing numbers.
These numbers are notable because, in the beginning of the pandemic, when ten people died in March 2020, the supreme leadership of the country, without prior consultations, declared a nationwide lock down at hours’ notice saying:
“No doubt we will have to pay a cost for this, but to save the life of every Indian is the priority for me, government of India…”
Addressing the nation on the Independence Day 2020, he said that the medical infrastructure was in place to fight the pandemic coupled with ‘around the clock vaccine research’ assuring protection from the disease.
But in early May-June of 2021, hundreds of citizens died across the country on ventilators for lack of oxygen supply, as the federal government fought states in the Supreme Court for oxygen distribution while hapless families watched their loved ones die on streets.
Even the dead waited for hours to be cremated for lack of space and some washed ashore.
The situation was so bad that the country was on knees for aid for which World Health Organisation sought donations.
Did it happen because the leadership was short of funds being a poor third world country?
Apparently, it was not so, as the ‘leadership’ had Rs 9,677.9 crore ($1.27 billion) collected in a few weeks, donated by Indians, from across the world, to fight the disease, opaquely under the disposal of the PM Care fund. Besides. It is presiding over a post GST (ranging 4 to 28 per cent) rich government to hilt, evident from its spending spree, unsparing even Gandhian and historical memorials that are being converted into picnic spots with public money.
The cause, however, rests with the ideologically conditioned values of leadership that inspire decisions leading to augmentation of personal power and glory at the cost of public interest.
The decisions of the leaders of republics are informed by values enshrined in the constitution. Even those who might be contemptuous to a sworn document, the value of the public good is inescapable therefore, leaders, spare no effort to convince the masses that they live and breathe for them. As history is harsh on the power and glory seeking emperors and politicians, therefore none admits to it; however, they are betrayed by their choices in decisions and priorities on actions.
In March 2020, the leadership declared a nationwide lock down to save lives claiming the national interest.
However, as the later events revealed, the lockdown instead of containing the virus and saving lives, merely demonstrated to the world that the country was ruled by a ‘great’ leader who could shut down 1.3 billion people, as if they were animals in a zoo, without following any law and procedure.
It also relayed an image of a coerced, controlled, submissive India ruled by a strong, decisive but an unresponsive leadership.
Otherwise, how could one explain death of hundreds of migrant laborers due to hunger and exhaustion who scrambled to reach their homes walking hundreds of miles across hinterland, harassed by an exploitive police force.
It is inexplicable that a leadership claiming working-class background is oblivious of conditions and numbers of migrants in major cities and how they commute back their homes in rural India? In early days, more people died struggling to reach home than the virus itself.
Secondly, saving lives was never a priority as when 1,501 people were dying daily in April 2021, the leadership was addressing political rallies to win ‘power’ in Bengal, facilitating thousands to congregate without masks and spreading disease despite opposition protestations.
Longing for legacy
Though power and glory seeking individuals covet structural legacies, like a stadium named after them here or a statue erected there but building a residential complex for himself and colleagues on a war footing, during a war like pandemic, is surprising.
Besides, regrettably, the Central Vista Project, costing about Rs 13,000 crore (US$1.8 billion, close to Antilia) of public money, would efface a few iconic buildings of ‘Delhi’, an entity’s journey from millenniums to the present.
Therefore, howsoever magnificent the new ‘Elite House’, it is likely to be weighed down by the memory of people and history lost during its rise.
Misery of masses is made to appear normal by organising flurry of celebrations with scarce resources
Such legacies, against karmic ones, suffer from the intrinsic flaws, e.g., Shah Jahan, who for a mausoleum, Taj Mahal, duressed thousands of hapless craftsmen for decades, leaving a monument tainted for several reasons, including, as Urdu poet, Sahir Ludhyanvi put it, symbolising a king’s way of ridiculing poor folks’ love.
The hurried foundation of ‘Ram temple’ fuelling a faith fury across north India, had nothing to with public interest or service (refer to secularism in the preamble of constitution) than a pursuit for power in approaching elections and adulation beyond them.
However, these actions facilitated Covid to travel far and wide finally leading to visuals of half buried dead bodies on riverbanks, revealing impoverishment of people in the country where cremation is a tradition.
Regrettably, the misery of masses is made to appear normal by organising a flurry of celebrations with scarce national resources.
This has occurred because ‘truth’ as a value is being sought to be replaced with what, Italian writer, Umberto Eco calls insinuations- giving facts that are valueless in themselves yet cannot be denied because they are true.
Take for example, the leadership’s 2021 Independence Day address, which discussed the inherited sick system of the past, applauded over a single Olympic gold medal of the present, and painted a dazzling picture of a glorious future wetted with occasionally suitable scheme statistics.
This obsession with the past and future coupled with a linguistic vagueness is a deliberate strategy to cover up the contemporary social truth.
But, the social truth or reality, cannot be hidden, shut, or suppressed. As the saying goes, ‘if one shuts door on reality, it peeps through the window’ and to borrow Bob Dylan’s lines, ‘begins to blow in the wind’, like, as a Gujarati poet translated in English observed:
"Don’t worry, be happy, in one voice speak the corpses
O King, in your Ram-Rajya, we see bodies flow in the Ganges"

The writers are defender of truth. what they think today, society does tomorrow, adding to power and glory’s sorrow.
---
*Melbourne based researcher and author

Comments

TRENDING

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".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as