As the Sun is going to set on 2020, we will be bidding adieu to a year of many unusual happenings and upheavals. It will be known for the untold sufferings of people due to callous decisions by the government. The year was born amid anti-CAA protests against conferring citizenship to those who came from the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on the basis of religion rather than constitutional provisions. The raison d’etre for enacting the law was religion rather than people, a clear indication that the nation, under the present dispensation, is moving towards the goal of Hindu Rashtra, vigorously propounded by the likes of Golwalkar and V. D. Savarkar.
Soon came the Covid 19 pandemic throwing the lives of millions of people off the track. Without batting an eyelid and giving a thought to the poor people working in various parts of the country, most of them hundreds of kms away from their kith and kin, the government chose to declare the lockdown without giving any warning. Millions of people got stuck in different places, without any means of livelihood. With all means of transport under lockdown, people took to the road to reach their homes. One cannot forget those tragic scenes of people with swollen legs, teary eyes and empty stomachs walking long hours to reach the safety of their homes.
The government did offer relief by way of free ration for a few months to the low-income category. But, a major share of the over 20 lakh-crore economic package to tide over the Covid crisis, announced by the Union Finance Minister over a period of one week, did not reach the migrant labourers and others who were in need of immediate cash in hand. Mostly, it will be the business houses which will reap the benefits of such measures. According to reports, till now only a part of the package has been disbursed by the government. Here too, the common man took a back seat in the scheme of things of the government.
The latest is the farmers’ agitation seeking withdrawal of the three controversial farm laws which would open the door for corporate houses to set foot in agricultural sector. This has sent shivers down the spine of the farming community. The business houses will be solely driven by profit motive and the farmers fear that they would be exploited to the hilt by the former and the latter will not get good prices for their produce. Agricultural experts say that these fears cannot be discounted.
The outgoing year was also marked by the arrests of many rights activists, students and academics labelling them as Maoists, Naxalists and such other monikers. States like Uttar Pradesh which passed yet another draconian law in the name of putting a leash on ‘forced conversions’ are acting on a set agenda. Add to this the fake news being flooded by Hindutva proponents castigating the minorities, protesting farmers and rights activists, verging on incitement to violence. But they go scot-free, and not even an FIR is registered against such fringe elements.
In all these, rule of law, constitutional niceties, human considerations, and benefits to the common man are relegated to the backburner. Gandhiji’s dictum “to take decisions keeping the last man in queue” should be the guiding spirit of any elected government. But the present regime seems to have given a go by to such principles.