Migrants

Where does Modi go from this Bihar high? Is this bugle of triumph also one of warning?

(It’s a reprint from NewsBred).

There is a reason for prime minister Narendra Modi to have an extra cup of tea which he loves so much in the morning. There are breakthroughs in Telangana and Manipur; a reaffirmation in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh; and Madhya Pradesh sealed for years to come. And then there is Bihar.

And he could afford to smell roses too in his garden now that the foul air of Covid-19, migrants trek, China-at-gate, economic tsunami, engineered anti-CAA etc harnessed by the devil siblings of Opposition and prepaid media has blown back on their faces. Even Hathras didn’t work.

This morning though the tea won’t be the same for regional satraps of Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu who have an assembly election to defend in next few months. A couple of them are allies who suspect they would be soon out of breath in keeping pace with such a driven partner. They don’t have to speak to Uddhav Thackeray or Nitish Kumar. They know it in heart.

It brings us to two existential questions in India’s political landscape: Are BJP and allies actually enemies sleeping in the same bed?

The basic premise of this puzzle of course is whether the two need each other. BJP didn’t concede to Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and I am sure there must be second thoughts within if it was judicious. Hindu vote is divided in any case, if not stupid. Why fragment it further? It has allowed the Pawars and Gandhis a stroll in the power corridors. Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD) was better to be without since it was cohabiting with farmer mafia while BJP is committed to rid India of weeds on the ground.

Politics is vision. But it’s also about staying in the present. BJP need to be both pragmatic and principled with allies. Only a fool can’t see that the Rest are coming together en masse: It doesn’t matter if they were enemies (BSP-SP; NCP-Congress, JD (S)-Congress, PDP-NC) only till recently. They are sinking and would hold on to any straw. They would get wiser—if not by 2017 UP then surely by 2020 Bihar–that caste piper isn’t quite belting out the chartbusters. They would band aid the pockmarks of corruption. They would woo the masses which so far were not even worthy of their contempt. They would rely less on media and friends-in-courtrooms now that it no longer is cutting the ice.

They of course are on the pitch of anarchy for some time. To their minds, they have already dispensed with umpires, third umpires and DRS etc. It has helped them in paralyzing the Centre, bound as it is by its Constitutional vows. What voters can’t deliver, villains might.

All those who stand with you, matter

It ought to be BJP’s goal to be in power, state after state. It can’t do without allies. It would have to allay their reasonable fears. Like it can’t afford to let go both Chirag Paswan and Nitish Kumar in Bihar. BJP might have a vision for India and its friends might suffer from cataract but then who said it’s an ideal world. You need every that voice, every that whiff, every that ray which could brighten your cause. Most have baser instincts, shallow interests, malleable emotions. But even those who just stand with you, matter.

So instead of a mere blinkered vision, BJP needs to look around and greet those who could say hello in return. It must account for inadequacies of others. It’s too straight-jacket and regimented with its friends. It can’t be that BJP is afraid of criticisms. If it was so, Yogi Adityanath wouldn’t have become CM of Uttar Pradesh; Article 370 would still have been a thorn, CAA-NRC would have gone into files by now. But BJP only harps on development. It doesn’t on discourse. They need to cultivate allies; they need to empower voices rooting for them to do good to Mother India.

It’s a seminal moment in India’s history. In millenniums. BJP can’t let it go only because its rulebook is cast in stone. It has to take every single voice along. And it has to stamp the hood of serpent into ground. It would be a Prithviraj Chauhan if it lets go the moment against Muhammad Ghori.  It would be a mistake to think that chorus is not contributing to the melody. Keep them in the background but keep them on the dais. Rise to their defence even if it’s unsavoury to your style. Men like Arnab Goswami, for instance, need you now. Niceties could wait.

So take your time as you finish your tea, Mr Modi. But open your gates a little wider, your drawing room a little more spacious, and summon extra chairs in the garden. There are more hues in the painting than just winning elections on the plank of bettering masses. There are independent voices, perhaps too stray and too disparate to matter to you or BJP. But they are helping the wider discourse. It would matter to you and India in longer run. Embrace them as you go forward.

 

 

 

India’s Coronavirus story and the million lies of New York Times

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

The New York Times today archived India’s one-million Coronavirus-infected moment with a dishonest, unsubstantiated piece, full of malice in heart.

The newspaper was only accurate on 30,000-plus cases every day and third-worst Corona-hit nation but then duped its readers by hiding that India’s cases-per-million are better than 110 other nations. Yeah, no typo here. Better than 110 other nations.

It has described India’s 25,000 deaths with a lyrical description of “long lines of bodies snake out of cremation ground in some areas” but I invite readers to look hard in Google search image and find one for me which fits the mould. Yeah Delhi had a spike in deaths for a while but there is no evidence of “long lines of bodies.” Evidence, that eternal logic, is missing in the piece.

I mean in a nation of 1.3 billion, 25,000-plus lives are lost. The lazy bums who shared the byline hopped the glaring data on the floor which informs us that India suffers 418,000 accidental deaths every year. Leave aside road accidents (150,000) or Railway crossing/accidents (131,000), more than 15,000 die each year due to heat and sun-stroke.

The report frowns up India claiming only 25,000 deaths. It attributes it to “sparse testing.” It doesn’t put forward any data, any statistics, to back its claim. It doesn’t bother to find out or tell its readers that India is testing 3.2 lakhs every day. So, 18 deaths on a daily average in four months in a nation which houses 18 percent of world’s humanity is an unfolding disaster.

There is a certain glee in quoting the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who claim by the end of next year, India would be the worst-hit country in the world. When the smell of vaccine is beginning to hit our nostrils, from the puff of air across the world, these prophets of doom are informing us India would be buried six feet under.

There is a flourish in claiming that India has already lost 100 million jobs when 90 million are daily wage-earners and technically have no jobs. How do you lose a job which you don’t have in the first place?

It repeats the plight of migrants like a ritual of circumcision in Islam, holy chants on a dying Hindu or baptism of a new Christian. Migrants are a mandatory colouring on India’s corona canvas these days even though free ration and cash subsidy to them is a fact uncontested. To fit migrants into the mosaic of the story, the piece claims the spread of Coronavirus is because of them returning home in India’s interiors.

It quotes a Delhi professor of epidemiology, Dr Anand Krishnan, who makes the astounding claim that less Coronavirus deaths have occurred in India because citizens are young and don’t suffer from obesity and diabetes. I mean India is the diabetes capital of the world with confirmed 50 million cases. Which India is in discussion here? Who is this quack?

One could only visualize a preening Dr Anand Krishan claiming that lockdown was “premature and it did nothing.” And that really is the trajectory of the story: This is the right time to enforce “lockdown”, now that India is slipping down the rope.  Maybe, just maybe, India’s policymakers would panic and return to lockdown months and bury India’s story for good.

Journalist R. Jagannathan is a voice which deserves the ears of those in India’s power-corridors. “Jaggi” claims in a piece that (a) India’s jobs are in services sector which would be lost forever in another bout of lockdowns; (b) lockdowns could unleash desperate people as anarchist, violent forces on the street; (c) that a few lives lost is a choice every society makes when pushed to the wall.

Soldiers lose their lives protecting the nation at the border; policemen do likewise in the interior and doctors too succumb as the present pandemic has shown.  Larger good should always take precedence over lesser good. Livelihoods are more important than lives now. All we could do is to ask citizens not to drop their guards and keep beefing up the healthcare in the background.

And let arm-chair pen-pushers spin a yarn in their own junkyard.

 

 

 

Migrants: Know the “dark” forces feeding on their misery

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

People-on-the-street is citizenry against the State. It affected the United States from continuing the Vietnam War. It brought down Charles de Gaulle in France in the 1960s as students came out in droves. Arab Spring had millions on the streets and toppled many governments in MENA (Middle East North Africa) region. “The Maidan” revolution in Ukraine bears a similar testimony. And Hong Kong hasn’t faded from memory in so-called “democracy” protests. India was in the grip of a similar meltdown on CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) before Corona Virus took the matter in its own hand.

Why people-on-the-street are a nightmare for the State is easy to understand. It could encompass a whole range of emotions: Anger, Violence, Hunger, Grief, Helplessness etc. It’s moving at a human level. Images connect the rest with the misery rolling on the roads. Slowly the whole citizenry gets on the back of the moving vulnerable.

It’s known States can’t do much if people rise against it. They either freeze themselves into inaction which only brings a domino effect on the “volume” of protests. Or if they resort to violent curbs, the matter goes out of hands and the world is up in arms. Stark images make headlines worldwide. United Nations, European Union parliament, rival nations, human rights groups pile on the pressure. Political rivals within the State smell blood in the pool. The State staggers. The nation stops.

It’s now well known that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has made countless enemies on his nationalist agenda. Nationalism upsets powers of the world. These powers have swindled the world in the name of “globalization” and “free trade.” Their maxim is “World without borders”. In nationalism, they see a phenomenon where a State is putting Nation first. That’s why they hate Modi. That’s why they have an angst against Donald Trump. That’s how they see an existential threat in Putin. That’s why Xi is an elephant in the room to them.

Who are these powers? Well, elaborating on it would take my focus away from this piece. Nevertheless, a passing mention is in order. These powers are the ones who control money. If you control money, you control governments, control media and movies, which in turn allows you to control humanity. Money in our world is controlled by Federal Reserve and City of London and a clutch of international bankers. You don’t see much of them in our newspapers. But if you are aware of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), you get the picture. George Soros is the only name I could suggest for the uninitiated.

Such forces were in work to hurt India on the pretext of CAA. But then Corona Virus happened. It threw a spanner in their machinations. The issue of migrants then fell in their lap. Migrants on the road served the same purpose as the CAA protestors did. They couldn’t care less about the cause or misery. “People-on-the-street” was good enough.

We would never know how lakhs of migrants gathered at a bus station in the Capital even as the lockdown was in place. Or how a similar movement thronged railway stations in Mumbai. It’s these pictures which anti-National forces feed on; if they don’t create it in the first place.

Western media described it as the “biggest movement of people since the Partition.” Indian mainstream media led the frenzy. The incidence of Tablighi Jamaat didn’t hold them back for long. They are again back on “migrants” theme. Harsh Mander, Barkha Dutt and their likes are busy with their poisonous pens. Indian Express isn’t letting it go. Nobody has died but a Front Page story a day is their staple diet. To them, Migrants is bigger than deaths and infections caused by Tablighi markaz.

Make no mistake that migrants is a real issue. They want to go back home. Either to be with their family. Or attend to their farms. But it’s also a fact that Indian states have made resources to feed and house them. Migrants are closer to medical help under states than they would be in villages. Isn’t it practical? What if they carry infection to villages where medical help of the scale seen in districts would be impossible to replicate?  Everyone is going through hardships. Migrants are no exceptions. Nobody has died out of hunger. Or neglect. These are the days of lockdowns. For the larger good. Personal inconveniences are the least Indians could suffer for the nation.

As things stand, migrants would move towards homes from April 20 onwards. Such arrangements are being made. Still trust the Lutyens Media not to let it go in a hurry. Already some are evoking the image of “detention centres” with the venues where migrants are being put up. Images would still do the rounds. You see, “People-on-the-road” is their design in Modi’s second tenure. They would persist with it in rest of Modi’s tenure.

Dear Folks, you have been warned.