All hell has broken loose on humanity this year. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the world to take unimaginable measures. For someone who was born in the 90s, it feels like actually living a history textbook. Days of great Plague, the Great Economic Depression, the world wars, and the Indo-Pak wars of the 70s are all being experienced in one form or the other. Also on side note, government formations of the “Aya ram gaya ram” days are back despite the supposedly ‘landmark’ anti-defection law. A piece of legislation much glorified in the civic/polity textbooks than in reality.
Above and beyond all this is the revival of the prudence of antisemitism. For those of you who are unaware, antisemitists forced Jews to wear yellow badges in Nazi Germany. They were identified in public spaces, inviting the wrath of mobs, police and the military. We have started to laud shameful branding of citizens as the right thing to do by the law enforcement agencies. Violating lockdowns can never be a justified cause to make citizens hold placards of calling themselves “Enemy of the society”. We are not used to this, we are bound to make mistakes, and this circulating images on social media holding placards is no way of correcting the misguided. While you may brand me as a “Covidiot”, but imagine if schools make your children hold placards “I am the enemy of science/history/whatever” when they commit mistakes. Fine them, impound the vehicles if you have to, humiliation is no punishment. This is against human rights, well if the idea that “Western standards of human laws cannot be blindly applied in India” goes by your conscience then there is no point reading further. Beyond mistakes, there are conditions which require discretion, they cannot be the black and white they are the grey. A doctor couple had appointed a caregiver for their elderly patients, the caregiver is unable to come because of the lockdown, now do we want the doctor couple off the hospitals? I myself don’t have the answer to the question above, but that’s not the point, the point is that all questions do not and cannot have a black and white answer. Agricultural farms are being abandoned, although there is no immediate threat but we are looking at greater agrarian crisis in the days to come. The mustard that are in the farm today, get to processing plants tomorrow and become mustard oil in days that follow. Going back to branding of citizens, police wielding sticks blindly on anyone and everyone on the road cannot be appreciated. The very need of sticks in this situation goes beyond logic. There are black marketers, hoarders, hate and fear mongers out there who may call for the use of batons and sticks.
With all the recent developments that have unfolded, one of the shining light has been Air India, bringing home our stranded countrymen from around the globe. In the time of crisis, NRIs coming back ‘home’ are being branded selfish. They cannot be our fellow citizen only when they make it big on the global stage by becoming the CEO of Google or Microsoft. They are as selfish as people migrating from Rajasthan to Bengaluru in search of opportunities. This new found habit of branding people powered by social media needs to stop. Only foreigners bringing in the dollars can’t be the recipients of our fabled tales of hospitality. We must realize that they are coming back ‘home’ and not to a hostile state. Going back to history textbooks, Air India used to be a private airline before it was nationalized in 1953 by a certain government. Most Indians would now agree that a loss making nationalized airline is a not bad but a great necessity. Given the state of the private banking sector, faith in nationalized banks has only been renewed. All this falls under the umbrella of “socialism”. Certain members of the current ruling dispensation want the word socialism removed from the Preamble of our constitution. While our Prime Minister may have said during a political discourse that the government has no business to do business. What he may have forgotten to add that certain things must not qualify as business, public transport, banking and public health being some of them.
On the plus side of things, there is cleaner air to breathe in. The air pollution must be the lowest in decades. There are almost 500 people who are now unlikely to die in accidents every day just in India far outweighing what corona could do. Know thy neighbour is really thing for quite a few people now. It was beautiful to see India (leaving aside idiots harassing our corona fighters) thank its brave sons and daughters who are on the front line fighting the virus for us. What this tragedy has taught me is the fact that compassion and discretion would go a long way in helping the civilization survive. In the end, go corona go.