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

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

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".

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

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.

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.