Modi in the present-day Mahabharata

Radhakanta Barik

While declaring Lockdown for controlling the Corona, Modi gave a speech,"In Mahabharata war continued for 18-days after which victory came, in corona the battle will continue for 21-days." Here he has given two fallacious statements. In Mahabharata there was no victory as the text tells us that devastation and deaths bring the end of Mahabharata war. This is discussed in the text as the destruction of golden city Indraprastha brings a lot of pains those who built the city. This is a melancholic feeling created in reading of the text Mahabharata which inspired the greatest artists like Satyajit Ray to make a picture on portions of the text and the most important theatre person Utpal Dutta gave a lecture on theatre where he brought the end of  Mahabharata comparing  with Shakespearean tragedy where both these texts went  for  a tragic end. Modi's reading of Mahabharata is a poor and has not read at all. In Kurukhetra areas people do not talk of Mahabharata as they have a lurking fear in their hearts and minds that their families may end as happened in the text. Indraprastha remains as a metaphor for destruction of a city, community and civilization. Modi’s use of the war symbolically has a corrosive influence over prosperous and harmonious Indian society and economy. The second part of the speech that Corona can be controlled within 21 days another tragedy as it is getting unfolded that there was no preparation for testing as testing kits came after 21 days. It kills doctors nurses as warriors without PPE as they were not provided basic protective mechanism against the Corona where he never mentioned them as he was doing to soldiers dying in Pakistan border. In Mahabharata there are heroes as defined by Vyasa all who died in the battle and who survived in the battle except Shikhandi who fled away from the battle field. Modi is avoiding to confront the battle against the Covid 19 by not paying any social package for the workers who lost the jobs and they were forced to walk on the streets. Today Industries are open and there are no workers as they have gone away to their villages. He is a timid and coward person in the present socio economic and political situation. His inability to confront the economy in a bold manner gets referred to by Piketty.

Thomas Piketty in his latest book Capital and Ideology has discussed the issue of reduction of inequality with the rise of Social Democratic parties in Europe and India. A leading Marxist scholar Piketty has recognized the Congress Party as social democratic party. Here I want to refer to Prof Bipan Chandra a Marxist historian who used to say the same thing. For him Communists and Congress must play by fighting each other as they believe in secularism, democracy and socialism. Whereas according to Piketty the present Modi regime is a right wing government who believes in inequality of wealth. This is very clear from Modi's policies as he has given more concessions to capital by reducing the tax and removing tax on capital gains. Hindutva has a primitive belief of private property that those who had done some good things in the past life they get wealth in this life. Their belief on Karma and dharma is the most primitive view of property. This is guiding Modi and RSS. Property is a social product and it is human labour which produces wealth. Although this is being recognised by the Bhagvat a spiritual text of 16th century. But the text  has not influenced the Hindutva. When Mrs Indira Gandhi gave a slogan "Garibi Hatao" and protest by the intellectuals supporting Hindutva came loudly. The best example is Naipal the Nobel Laureate in literature wrote in a novel Thousands Mutinies where he attacked Indira Gandhi's view on property which is a challenge against the Hindutva view of property. In her term empirical data show that for the first time poverty level got reduced. Which continued for the last ten years of UPA as they wanted to keep inequality in check to some extent although the liberalization process has increased the inequality. Under Modi inequality has increased and sharpened. With the demonetization and declaration of Lockdown the forty millions of workers have got into poverty trap. Furthermore, with the Lockdown he refused to listen to the leading economists including the Nobel Laureates that they need a social package and free food. Modi's hindutva does not relent at all. This has increased the inequality and unemployment which is going to make a negative growth and increase desperation among youths.  He went to confront the battle in Leh against China, but failed to do so. He can be compared to Srikhandi of Mahabharata. Modi as the prime minister went to Leh valley to address the soldiers. His body language shows a defeatist one. This valley is the place where Mrs Indira Gandhi addressed the public while she was the Prime Minister. This is a comparison between Modi and Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was the most successful administrator and political leader of Indian Republic who was not scared at all. In normal peace time she spoke against America in the presence of President Lyndon Johnson where she retorted on the floor of white house that she would not come back to renew PL 480. After that she showed that she could pursue a public policy in implementing Green Revolution in India. India achieved self sufficiency in food production by 1971. On foreign policy she was the leader of Non aligned movement of the world. She could pursue foreign policy in such a manner which resulted in isolating USA in global politics for achieving the Bangladesh liberation. She built school hospital and universities and Museums having a progressive cultural policy. Modi in the last six years has not built any public institution and he is a scared person which his walking style shows in Leh. Modi redesign himself like Indira Gandhi but he is a pygmy in front of Indira Gandhi. Modi got India as a fastest growing economy whose position was 23rd out of 43 countries according to Economist, a leading reputed journal from London. It's interesting to note here that Marx in writing Capital used it for facts and figure. Today the journal says that india's position has come down to 3rd position. It is gift of Modi and his team to Indian people.

Modi Yogi does not believe in Rule of law, which gets violated in the case of UP, where police men guided by Yogi went on encounter killing. It is about 800 people have been killed in the process without any magisterial inquiry. Anything supports the BJP is called law and order. They don't respect neutrality of administration. This has been cited by more than 90 retired civil servants in their letter to President of India. In their letter they raise the point that the rule of law has been violated consistently by Modi Yogi duet. The Yogi government appointed only Rajput and Brahman officers. This is being pursued for consolidation of Brahman Rajput castes for BJP. This does not work in a modern society and modern administration demanding rule of law and neutrality. This resulted  in killing of 8 police officers in Kanpur by a Brahman gang headed by Dube. This is politics of opportunism and casteism. Governance demanding rule of law which Modi Yogi don't follow is facing threat from the caste leader.

Modi government has decided to go for privatization of Indian Railways. This is the end of India. As idea of India as a Republic based on equality and justice which has got  evolved during the national movement. With the coming of railways the idea of national movement got worked out. People started moving from villages to cities. This movement of people brought new thinking. This is being recognized by Marx in one of essays. "Now nobody can stop Indian revolution”. Privatization will encourage the RSS to grab a portion of the Railways and those actively opposed Indian National movement. Art 19 of Indian Constitution free movement will go. Only rich can enjoy by owning a portion of railways. Modi government is against the idea of India by going for privatisation of railways.

Modi is desperate to win the assembly election of Bihar and Bengal. But the government has no record for performance but has a plenty of money to do politiquing. As I wrote two books on Bihar one on the JP movement and another on Land and caste in Bihar politics. I move around the state for conducting the field works. This is the state which has been destroyed by the JP movement where JP allowed the RSS workers to play a role. The movement was against the corruption but in reality the corruption has entered into the civil society in a big way after the JP movement. Bihar has not come out of these two shocks. Young people are ready to involve in corrupt practices which is the disease has killed the society and rather than politics. Furthermore the caste plays havoc in politics. Both these viruses with Corona have created havoc in Bihar.

 Modi is serious in dismantling the pillars of a sovereign polity and economy. The backbone of sovereignty of a nation is self sufficiency in  food production.  Modi government has announced free market for agricultural goods including rice and wheat. They will sell at market price to the traders and agricultural operations will stop. Food production will stop. We will lose our sovereignty. We will go back to American PL 480 by which food will be imported from America and this was happening in our childhood. The procurement price of rice is announced by Modi government. But as we are engaged in farming in our parental land we calculated six months back that comes around Rs 1900 and plus 50 percent profit. In the meantime price of diesel has increased. We cannot realise this by the present announcement by Modi government. We are losing to the market forces. Odisha has turned into a mono culture where small farmers like us depend on only rice and we are scared of producing pulses. As our experiences teach us that three years back there was high price of Biri dal in the market we went for producing this pulse the year after where market cheated us and government did not step in. We lost hope that we learnt a lesson that only rice production is a viable in our place. Odisha is experiencing natural calamities which harmed the production system. Modi government must relook state of Odisha and fix the price of rice. Agricultural prices need to fixed at the state level and central government must concede to the demand of each state, but Modi government has decided to go privatization of agricultural market which is a death blow to Indian economy.

Politics of class rooms did not change radically except rarely people used to cite names of Indira Gandhi but very critical of emergency. A Professor ,a great class room teacher but a Congress MP Rasidudduin Khan could say, ' every house there is an Indira Gandhi which explains the position of housewife or mother inside the house popularly known as the Home Minister among middle class circles socialized in a sense that patriarchal authority got worked out through her. Indira Gandhi's cabinet got caricatured by a famous cartoonist showing she was the only man among the ministers. The opposition leaders were critical of Indira Gandhi but not much of emergency. Once the Janata Party government came to power there was a discussion while forty fourth amendments got discussed to nullify the constitutional provisions of 42nd amendment some top leaders such as Charan Singh and Advani argued that emergency provisions needed to be shifted from the constitution but to the common laws where restrictions would be a regular phenomenon. The way Modi government passed a law regarding the sedition that anybody can be arrested and the state is not responsible to prove the accused is guilty but the accused has to prove that he or she is innocent. They can be arrested under the Prevention of unlawful activities passed by Modi government which has turned Emergency  into a part of common law. This is being practiced by the present government by arresting innocent citizens involved in communal riots. Today the way activists within Muslim community are getting arrested under the above law and communal riots have got organized by the RSS in city of Delhi which reminds the film of Garam Hawa made by Sathyu.

As a student of JNU in 1973 the film Garam Hawa created tremors in the campus about its intellectual content regarding the partition. Our Professor Rashidudduin Khan took us to show the film and the film has beautiful acting of Balraj Sahni whose body language tells us the pathos of the Muslims as the victims of the partition those who decided to live in India being a secular Republic. His facial expression showing his commitment to Secular Republic gets shattered with the events taking over his life and his family. But he remains steady fast as a passionate artist to the idea of secular and socialist republic. In 1972 he came to JNU to give the Convocation address where he spoke beautifully regarding the independent thinking of our people. Modi Shah has decided to attack the workers, minorities specifically Muslims and tribals and dissent in a society which gets reflected in the poem given below:

This year May day has not got celebrated
it is Lockdown time
banning of workers’ rights
Two hundred years back
it was a gift of American workers
that eight hour work
over that one works gets overtime
there is week end off
it is linked with old age security
It is linked pension and insurance
but today all these vanished
Children will not be allowed to read
the Black Beauty
the horse refuses to work on Sunday
His Malik (owner) wants to go to temple
He refuses to go on Sunday
It is really Sabbath
when the horse gets old
he refuses to carry the Malik as he is old
this is his duty to search for a new horse
Look at the workers in the construction sites
They refuse to work on Sunday
they take rest and move around
in the villages workers refuse to work on Sunday
week day off is a part of normal life
Maids take one day off
the household works are done by the Maliks
today the king is angry
that workers will work for 12hours
there will be no off day
they will be working for capital
but many industrialists oppose this
that workers need rest and recuperation
they need fresh energy
for working tomorrow
they are tired after working twelve hours
they will have no energy for tomorrow
but the king does not understand
his government says more labour more wealth
he is dummy of the Indian capital
It is Lincoln told that labour comes first
then the capital
It is like snow on the Himalayas
which create perennial rivers
Both Ganga and Yamuna
it is labour which creates wealth
in the Lockdown period
labour were pushed out of the cities
industries got closed
capital are crying today
without labour no industry
although industries are open
but no labour
rural capital went down to Bihar and UP
collected labour by their own buses
It is Gujarati industrialists went to Odisha
Collected labour in plane
they know that trees without birds
the jungles without animals
it is hills without green coverage
Labour got pushed out
they were forced to walk on the roads
today they are being brought by plane and buses
But the king does not understand
the capital are demanding that labour need a social package
that they need monthly money and food from the government
but the king does not understand this
Here the stupidity works
there is no end to stupidity
they do not read Bhagvat
which says that labour create wealth
Modern capital requires knowledge
technology and labour
which can produce wealth
it is not twelve hour working day
it is not without week end off
they want rest and holiday
they want pension and health facilities
these help the capital to grow
capital is shrinking
like the snow clad Himalaya
Every summer there is less water
River Ganga is dying without water
the king is chairman of the Ganga Body
but no work but money disappears
This is modern India
where capital want that labour be given facilities
but the King's stupidity does not recognize
Indian economy is going down down
High rate of unemployment
Low growth
we live in distress
Our youths have no future
they have to work in foreign soil as slaves
That is the only future we have
the sky looks dark
but no shower no thunder no lightening
it is the stupidity rules

Prof Radhakanta Barik (retd), Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi

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Jul 17, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

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