The coronavirus figures are escalating in India. However, the little bit of solace is that the fatality rate is, not as much as it is in the West. This is not to underestimate the scale of the pandemic in India. It’s only to point out, taking into consideration the size of the country with population India has, vis-a-vis the European nations of Italy- size. Anyway, the initial lockdowns by the prime minister educated the people about the coronavirus and the precautionary measures to be taken to contain the spread of the virus viz. hand washing, wearing masks, and social distancing that helped immensely later. Otherwise, no amount of media propaganda would have served.
The severity, the grimness of the situation was realised by the people then, the flattening of the curve happened then. There are people like Rajiv Bajaj, who find fault with whatever the prime minister had done. Their argument is: the PM had looked at the West on the pandemic issue and had decided to impose the lockdown twice successively nearing two months. He should have looked at the Eastern countries like: Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand and to an extent Bangladesh for a solution as they effectively dealt with containment of coronavirus without much lockdowns. This is all thinking in retrospective. The PM of India cannot gamble with this big a country and with this huge population. As a matter of fact, the government announced recently: had it not imposed lockdown at the beginning, by now the contagion would have touched one-and-half crore figure.
Pointing finger at the prime minister’s lockdown-measure, which was initially hailed by all intellectuals all over the world including the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Tedros Adhanom, is an exercise in futility. For, this big a country: India, the responsibility of the head at the top is humongous. Weighing options based on economy-moving forward-or-backward cannot be balanced by risking lives. Since in a democracy, dissent has place, the parties and individual bigwigs in their capacity can put their views in the public domain. However, criticism should never be only for criticisms sake. Everywhere in the world, the pandemic is creating a “lockdown generation”.
After the criticism on the lockdown, next followed: the migrant crisis and the cascading effects. Because after the conjoint lockdowns: the poor-migrant- workers/the guest-workers- crisis, the poor/lower -middle sections losing jobs and wages and similarly the industrial slow down, economic slump and many problems were glaring. The migrant crisis to an extent was solved with the announcement of Pradhana Mantri Anna Daan Yogana by which they would get rice and pulse through the ration shops. These ration-shops are the very arteries/veins of the Public Distribution System (PDS). If we had not got this system in place, it would have been difficult. The PM preferred to use this system rather than giving Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of cash that was demanded by the Congress. Money given freely maybe spent on other purposes but food will satisfy their hunger.
Interestingly, the Communist left-leaning intellectuals are comparing the recent migrant-worker- crisis to the mass exodus that had happened during the Partition of India in 1947. Their statements were: ‘Migrant labourers were orphaned (by us all). The state abdicated its responsibility and reduced them invisible. And this was all because of hasty imposition of the lockdown which was primarily to protect the middle-classes’ and added to it, their argument goes further to say, ‘the government had made the poor pay, to keep middle-and-upper middle classes safe’. They go further to add on: ‘this is because the Government is part of the middle-class system’. Contrary to this middle-class bashing, the prime minister always keeps saying: it is the honest middle-classes by paying their taxes are feeding the poor. These activists of the Left-leaning have another fad: to disregard police (for their behaviour). To them police always misbehave.
However, it is true, to an extent, that the determined bid of some activists by exposing the migrant-workers crisis— by taking out videos and photos of their plight and by posting them on social media, stirred the nation’s conscience. But beyond that point, their claims and counter-claims: poor are invisible in the society, they are uncared for by the government, complete apathy towards them, the deluge of migrants rushing to buses, huge hunger crisis—are all painful but somewhat overstated. This government and successive governments after the Independence have been taking up many pro-poor programmes and welfare-measures. If there are any loopholes in transmission and distribution, these NGO-activists can make efforts to plug-in by complaining to the authorities. Specially, PM Modi did much to the poor, the realisation of which was his massive mandate for the second-term.
The second C- is China. China-problem pre-dates Independence. After Independence the border skirmishes and the wars it fought in 1962, 1965 are still fresh in India’s memory. Its policy of ‘two-steps forward and one-step backward’ is clearly expansionist. India, a democratic nation, still lingering with many people below the poverty line, would like to go on the process of development steadfastly, never wanted fight with China a battle. China, a Communist regime that is accountable to none, is trying to land-grab India’s territory at strategic points near Line of Actual Control (LAC).
All Indian prime ministers tried to befriend China, for, it being a neighbour and contiguous country that shares thousands of kilo metres of border, all were hopeful of having peace with them so that they could concentrate to solve the internal problems that bother the day-to-day lives of the people. But China betrayed India many times. Now, there is—an enough and no more—kind of feeling in the people. That’s precisely the boycott of Chinese goods by people of India.
India began to craft the new China policy after the brutal killing of Colonel Santosh Kumar. Prior to that India built infrastructure and has been doing as an on-going process near LAC. The P.M’s visit to Ladakh to meet the soldiers at the border and to address them to boost their morale indicates: thus far no further to the enemy indirectly. Now, slowly the de-escalation process started from the India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquility. The Indian and Chinese armies continued their disengagement process in a bid to resolve their two-month stand-off in Ladakh.
Coming to the third C- the Congress Party, the less said the better. The Congress, as ever, more bothered about its first-family. The loyalty to the Gandhi-family is the prime-requisite of each member in the party. Priyanka-Gandhi’s Lutyen’s Delhi bungalow- vacate notice- served by the government became an emotive issue to the party cadres. Their spokespersons raised it on all TV channels as if it was a burning problem of the country.