Great Pretenders Are Taught a Lesson
Recently a network of Chinese social media showed a humiliating picture of an Indian crematorium side by side with another showing the proud launching of a Chinese space-rocket. The intention, of course, was to mock India, an energy in extinction in contrast to a nation in expansion. There was nationwide protest in China itself. The second wave of Covid-19 was at its peak in India, and it was insensitive to ridicule a nation at the moment of its helplessness. When the first round of protests was over, the prime movers merely explained that those who make high pretentions need to be reminded of reality. Xi Jinping ended the debate getting the image removed from the media altogether. “Good Sense” prevailed.
Yes, there is pleasure in teaching a lesson to proud pretenders. Rarely do they learn it themselves; they learn it in the hard way from others. Unfortunately it happens too late, ending in disaster, as Kauravas did in the Kurukshetra war and Hitler in World War II. But the actual sufferers are hapless crowds that die in the battlefield, people whose houses are looted and burnt, whose assets are destroyed…and in today’ context, those who die of Covid-19 in ramshackle hospitals, bitten by mosquitos and flies, gasping for breath for want of oxygen, forbidden to cry too loud lest the media notices the ruling clique’s inefficiency.
Healing Required at Various Levels
Healing is the need today. Going beyond immediate physical pain, psychologists call for a psychological healing as well: from a fear psychosis prevalent among patients and their relatives, old people suffering from depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, and a sense of loneliness; domestic violence; emotional scars that linger. We hear of cases when the sick or the dead are left alone. Recently, a boy with Covid was found abandoned in the Sealdah station. Mother Teresa was the heroine of the Sealdah station, picking up the abandoned sick…doing a service that humiliated India, according to Yogi. Sixteen Missionaries of Charity lost their lives in service these days. We wish that sort of compassion was visible in UP hospitals where thousands of children die every year, like uncounted numbers of Covid patients.
When Yogiji took over as the Chief Minister, he was asked what he would desire most for India. Prompt came the answer: he would be immensely pleased if every family in the country owned a cow! It was not health or education that was uppermost in his mind, nor peace and harmony among his people. Yes, the cow dominates every corner of the present Indian Universe: economic planning, health research, political inspiration, religious funding. The great schools of Indian philosophy and the Indic urge to search for Truth have clearly become Outcastes in Modi-Shah-Yogi India. Echoes of Yajnavalkya-Gargi debate have been hushed. Who will bring healing to this frozen thinking?
Slow Learners Pay the Price
Swami Vivekananda used to say that the sole aim of his life was to stop mutual wrangling, to teach universal truths, to bring all people together, so that they might love one another and work in peace for their common good. BJP leadership forgot such great ideals when drawing up their election strategies for Vivekananda’s Bengal. The campaign in Bengal turned a Battle for Bengal. Amit Shah subjected West Bengal to a “wrest Bengal” drive. He did not begin, as he did most irrelevantly in Jharkhand, with the Mir Jafar story. Soon enough he would be welcoming any number of Mir Jafars who changed sides from Trinamool Congress… people with corruption charges and other allegations against them! He had to pay the price for it.
Initially he had “extorted” an unenthusiastic response to his war-cry “Jai Shri Ram”, a Hindutva slogan that did not fit in with the Bengali outlook; it does not suit the political arena. In Assam he did not use it at all. He was under the guidance of closed-minded RSS tutors who were completely out of touch with Bengali sensitivities that sturdily resisted Hindi-belt fads: cow fanaticism, love jihad, Ram Navami; children made to carry swords on parades.
Bengal election turned out to be the most hate-filled election ever, except the Delhi one where Shah himself was heard shouting “Goli maro”. Shah adopted the strategy of fighting Bengali regionalism by pitching sub-regional forces against it: e.g. planting anger among the Rajbonshis, Darjeeling Gorkhas, and Hindi-speakers in the tea gardens against Mamata. All to no avail. Gradually the BJP leadership will have to admit that beyond the Hindi belt Yogi-Shah skills are negative assets in the election field.
Shah indeed is shocked beyond belief that his brilliant manoeuvrings of putting groups and subgroups against each other drew a blank… shocked beyond belief. Apparently he has gone into sanyasa for a while, hardly a word heard from him for the present moment.
Political Criticism is a Citizen’s Right, DUTY
When Hemant Soren, the Jharkhand Chief Minister, told the Prime Minister that what he sought from him was Kaam ki Baat not Mann ki Baat, there was a hue and cry from all over the country. Just think of it, a tribal voice has to be hushed! But Rahul had been saying the same thing every day, Mamata in stronger language. But let us search further. Is it true that an upstart from Gujarat has made himself the Emperor of India and that he and his close-knit associate have become immortals, claiming to stand above criticism? Yashwant Sinha, former BJP Finance Minister, puts it this way, all have turned “Slaves” in Delhi; even Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari are held in complete subjection. Every independent voice, opinion, evaluation has gone mute. People have to keep flattering the Emperor to maintain themselves in position.
However, with the Covid cataclysm that swept over India, Modiji stands a chastened man today. Mamata turns eloquent when she mocks his sense of insecurity. She calls his “consultation” with CMs and administrators “Insultation”. She asks: are we under martial law, dictatorship? Are we reduced to ‘bonded labour’ and made puppets, only to listen to His Master’s Voice? Has he become a Shah-en-shah, King of kings, to preside over dead bodies on the Ganga? Did the ringing of bells, clapping of hands and doing of rituals save the nation from the pandemic? Political criticism is a citizen’s DUTY.
Modiji’s major mistake was to encourage people to participate in the Kumbh Mela. For him it was the celebration of victory over Covid-19. Tirat Singh Rawat, Uttarakhand CM, echoed the Prime Minister, “All are welcome to the Maha Kumbh”. In fact, it turned out to be an ashwamedha sacrifice of 25 million people. According to government calculation, 6 million people took a dip at Haridwar in April alone. They carried the virus to the remotest villages in India. Over three lakhs people have died. There was no counting of bodies in many places… like during the Black Death of the 14th century. Many bodies were left rotting. Is it right to criticize?
Economy in Shambles
If countless human lives have been lost, the economy on which life itself depends has taken a plunge. Anup Sinha notices that the economy had fallen 23.9% and 7.5% before it made a start towards recovery with a modest 0.4% growth. A100 million jobs were lost in April-May last year. Pew Research Centre says, 32 million slipped from the middle class, 75 million became poor. Workers’ income fell by 17%. The V-shaped recovery predicted turned a ra-shaped (Hindi ra) decline. The hoped for resilience after the pandemic, which Moody’s had placed at 13.7% has sunk to 9.3% today. Meanwhile India’s environmental rating has come down to 177th of 180. Propaganda pays, but not for too long. Collapse takes you by surprise like Covid. The Gujarat-model of propaganda will not help.
With the second wave of Covid, unemployment rate rose to 8% this April. In the meantime, the Government has callously raised oil prices, hitting the average man. That is what made Randeep Surjewala of Congress to call BJP the “Bharatiya Jan-loot Party,” looting 1.3 billion Indians without the least embarrassment. When the average person finds no sparable money in his hands, domestic demand falls, and the economy comes to a griding halt. Wealth remains accumulated in the hands of 1%, who according to Oxfam, hold four times what 70% possess.
This is the time to curtail non-productive government expenditure like temple-building, pilgrimages, yajnas, yathras, swamis, pujas, vistas. Meantime the PM remains determined and distant, stoic and cold, mind set to go ahead with his Central Vista project, which will cost 20,000 crores, the felling of hundreds of trees and the demolition of National Museum and other buildings. Critics have called for a wider consultation on this project. No reply.
Humiliation Comes When Humility Is Absent
Congress takes up the Vista issue and criticizes “Sultan” Modi and the palace he proposes to build for himself. So, the ugly titles Hindutva-vadis coined for opponents are returning to plague them: Mughals, Sultans, Mir Jafars, Aurangazebs. But they have gone deaf. Rahul says, the Modi system has buried its head in the Ganga sand. But problems remain. They should not forget that in 2019 over 10,200 farmers committed suicide under their insensitive dispensation. All is not well under the Lotus Regime. The red alert came from the UP panchayat polls in which the BJP lost even Ayodhya and Varanasi to Akilesh’s Samajwadi Party, and Mathura to BSP. The Day of Accounting is round the corner! Modi can continue giving utterance to pitiable boasts about making India a world power as a toy exporter or the pharmacy of the world, when hundreds of thousands lose their lives.
A poem of Parul Khakhar in Gujarati, painting a painful picture of the Ganga bearing dead bodies touched many. It was hastily translated into many languages. She has been threatened in the social media by the VHP cyber-army, but she has remained unshaken. “All is well…O Emperor”, so goes the song; admit the truth that “you are stone”, unyielding! Say that you are naked! Thousands have said that before, but Parul has put it into poetry.
We All Suffer from Some Complexes
Psycho-analysts in the past have tried to explore the psychic makeup of historic personalities like Alexander or Caesar, political leaders like Hitler or Trump. Social observers have noticed women in men-dominated societies making extra effort to show that they can make strong decisions, e. g., Golda Meir in Israel and Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka; Indira Gandhi in India nationalizing banks, abolishing privy purses, liberating Bangladesh; Jayalalitha or Mamata in their places in their own respective styles. Similarly, they notice how Dalits and OBCs, when they are among the upper class, seek to show themselves “ultra-orthodox” (vegetarian food and pollution-cautious) to be upgraded in society. This natural instinct helps to build up the structural strength of the caste-system.
In Modiji such experts have noticed a person from an unsophisticated background struggling to get over his inferiority complex. If what Modiji himself said in the parliament is true, that twelve hundred years of subjection to aliens has placed our psyche under strain, that explains his postures and gestures: e. g., remaining always on the self-defendive, keeping aloof, avoiding the media, resenting criticism, dependence only on self-chosen advisers, eagerness to leave something visible behind like the Central Vista, unyielding on Father Stan Swamy.
If the Elite in India suffer from an inferiority complex because they were under alien rulers for a long time, think of the people of humbler castes who have been harassed and hunted down for 3000 years? Buddha in his days was shocked when he saw Aryan fighting tribes going “along the banks of the Ganga striking, laying waste, mutiliating and commanding others to mutilate, oppressing and commanding others to oppress” (Digha Nikaya 1,52). It is the same game that goes on in UP today along the same river Ganga, with Yogiji’s unconstitutional militia, Hindu Yuva Vahini, assaulting and lynching the humbler races in the name of cow-protection and elite-set codes. Some of them, having turned anti-socials, had to be shot dead in fake encounters under orders from the Founder-Monk Yogi himself. The Delhi regime extends approval. “If we believe in absurdities, we shall commit atrocities” said Voltaire. Hurt memories of 3000 years need healing.
May Good Sense Prevail
Mature persons get over their complexes. Happily, most of our Freedom Fighters did not suffer from the complexes that Modiji refers to. They were intelligent enough to recognise the woundedness in human nature and the need to put historic injuries behind to construct a confident future. When we look at ourselves objectively, we can ask others to do the same. Mahatma Gandhi believed, “Acknowledgement of an error is like a broom that sweeps away the dirt and leaves it cleaner than before”.
The day Modiji admits that he failed in some respects, he becomes a liberated man, master of himself and a Philosopher-King in his own right. Healing comes with humility. He could admit that Kashmir-demotion and ritual-for-display at Ayodhya were not the right priorities for India like health and economy; that health budget this year is lower than what was spent last year; that the need for adequate preparation for a possible Second Wave was mere Good Sense.
Many political observers described the DMK victory in Tamilnadu as the victory of Dravidian “Common Sense” over Hindutva superstition and arrogance… and what Bengal longed for, as Mamata herself said, was an “INCLUSIVE” healing touch after a spell of artificially created polarisation. “May Good Sense awaken” she prayed, in Bengal and in the rest of the country.