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

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.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

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".

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.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen