Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s politics during Covid 19

Radhakanta Barik

Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in his latest speech that India will pursue indigenous path of development. The Health department all over India is struggling to cope with the problems of COVID19. Many states of India have started new hospitals meant for Corona patients. But Modi government has not incorporated the private hospitals for handling such a crisis. On the contrary, they have incorporated the Consultancy Company of America into Health Ministry of India which is the first time doing such a mischievous work. The Health Ministry has been able to handle serious cases like HIV and Immunization problems without any foreign consultancy. They have made a success on both these fronts. Modi government in the name of Corona has incorporated the American Consultancy as the experts and former Secretary say that it is not required as knowledge is available freely from WHO and other universities. On payment taking the consultancy from American company is going to be harmful to Indian indigenous development of medicines and technologies.

Partial opening of Delhi has brought pavement workers such as tailor, cobbler and washer women to their working places. After two months of LockDown they have come back and started working. By looking at their health and mental make up one can realise the negative impact of the two months unemployment. This has resulted in economic distress and sufferings. They are able to survive on a half meal which has a negative impact on their health. Their weight has declined and face looks sullen and they have lost their energies. But they have started their works hoping to recover from the economic slowdown. They used to earn from 250 to 500 and this category of working people mostly live without families and their families live back in their villages. They are able to survive half fed and undergoing economic sufferings and mental agonies.As each of them sit on the street by maintaining social distance then the complete Lockdown was not necessary for these working people on roads.

Let us judge the performance of one year's rule of Modi. Let us quote a poem:
"And if your best
was not as good
As you hoped it would be
you still could say,
"I gave today
All that I had in me."

Modi has given his best to a nation. He had a thumping majority in 2019 general election. He became Prime Minister for the second term. He had interest to serve the poor nation. His year shows the nature of works he has handled in terms of policy making process. He is absolutely a free trader. He does not believe in intervention of state but he controls the state and its resources under him. He has not built a single public sector in his six years term whereas Vajpayee built 17 public sector units in his career as the PM. He is interested to sell some of the key public sector units such LIC which is popularly known as people's money as poor invests his life saving here. He has decided to sell the major portion to the private sector. He has decided to sell Air India but no buyer has been found yet. He has decided to go for partnership of private players with the public hospitals which is going to be a disastrous path. It is the time of Cororna where AIMS in Delhi is providing the key inputs in the policy making process. Tomorrow it may be privatised. It will not invest in research and will not provide medical help to affected people. His handling of the Corona shows that forty millions of migrant labour are badly affected without work and without money. But there is no such social package for taking care of their needs. It is biggest human tragedy in post Independent India. His planning was adhoc for handling the Covid 19. It has been found in his model state where he was the chief minister for 20 years brings out the sordid matters related to PPE or Ventilators and Testing kits and in all these buying according to the Gujarat High Court some corruption has been involved. This has created havoc in health sector of Gujarat with the rise of Covid cases and more deaths are happening. Gujarat model of development has collapsed under the pressures of human tragedies. The migrant labour are going by the trains by paying from their pockets. No proper food water and medicine in their trains. The moment they are reaching their destinations and they have been found Corona affected people. This brings the question of handling Modi Trump show in Ahmadabad where the massive crowd without bothering of social distancing has created a havoc on the health front. Gujarat model of development remained as the agenda of Modi's campaign machinery during 2014 general election. Gujarat's economic growth minus human development has created a havoc today in the case of handling of Covid 19. The High court of Gujarat has given a sharp statement of corrupt practices used by Gujarat government in buying ventilators. After Modi Ventilator scam
//The Gujarat High Court came down heavily on the state government for trying to "artificially control” the Covid situation in the state and called the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad, the main government Covid facility in the state, "as good as a dungeon, may be even worse".

The economy has been ruined and the unemployment rate has jumped up to 27 % which is the highest in India. This is urban India whereas rural India is experiencing the 24% of unemployment which is the highest in India.  The GDP may fall to negative at the end of the year. The law and order has been failing. Human rights violation has been blatant and arrests of innocent students under the sedition charge have created fear in the minds of people. His handling of Kashmir is worst where terrorism has grown with alienation of people is complete. Today India is facing a bleak year ahead once we are stepping his second year.  The way public administration under Modi has been privatized for satisfying the interest its party and dominant ideology he pursues one can related to Nehru’s concept of public administration.

On death anniversary of Nehru one can look at his contribution to public administration. Indian public administration never was meant for public during the colonial period despite some of the leading civil servants of that time pleaded for the public policies. The civil servants had a divided opinion over the issue of reintroduction of the permanent settlement into South and Western part of India and a group came out openly opposing the permanent settlement and they were so vehemently opposing the policy and the British government gave second thought and introduced the Raiwatwari system. They functioned in a peculiar manner as many of them were guided by the utilitarianism which helped the majority of people. They used to serve the colonial state. Civil service of colonial time got retained by the Independent state without knowing their pro landlord interests. It is the Indian Civil Service harmed the state of UP who opened the Locks of the Babri Masjid and allowed the idol of Ram to be kept there. Once Nehru came to know this he ordered for the locking the Masjid. There was a case Monkey in the city of Lucknow where the District Collector, an ICS officer refused to follow the civil service law and started worshiping the monkey instead of catching the monkeys which created public nuisance where Nehru intervened then the civil administration took the issue. Publicness grew at a slower pace among civil service which are getting threatened by the dowry problem where the civil servants are sucked into a powerful corrupt father in laws and who are being forced to work for their interests. Modi government has been able to take the help of these civil servants through their corrupt father in laws to work for the Hindutva agenda. The first principle of the Hindutva agenda is this that the rule of law needs to be scrapped the moment the BJP government is there.It needs to be used in partisan interest against the minorities, dalits and backwards.

One of the leading bhakta of Modi Shri Chetan Bhagat a popular novelist has turned into critical of Modi and his government. That Modi's comparison of India with Pakistan has led to decline of India. This is a good observation by him. Furthermore a lady journalist raised a question to Vajpayee as the Prime Minister in a press conference that by comparing India with Pakistan he was doing injustice. That made Vajpayee conscious of the fact and after that incident Vajpayee became conscious of the fact that he did not compare India with Pakistan. Modi has won 2019 general election on the issue of Pakistan which made him behaving like an autocrat ignoring the parliament and judiciary and press and other institutions. One needs to recite a poem by Neruda on the bhaktas of Modi.

"I have seen swindlers entertained
by impeccable gentlemen ........
and I have seen good people hungry,
hunting for bread in the rubbish."

The way welcome function got organized by Mamata Banerjee of Bengal to Modi shows a difference. That her body language is telling a different story. It is a discerning image of her as a leader. The governor of Bengal stood with folded hands and Mamata stood reading some papers explaining her attitude to Modi. This is the way Jyoti Basu behaving while he was the chief minister. He has worked with Indira Gandhi to Vajpayee without bowing down. He told in apt word that Advani the Home Minister under Vajpayee that a criminal. This could be told by Jyoti Basu and nobody else. The criminal case has been going on against Advani till today. Mamata Banerjee inherits the Bengal pride from Jyoti Basu. This is where Tagore the greatest Bengal son told ‘Keep your head high’.

Odisha government has directed the each district collector to provide food and drinking water and transport to carry them to the border of the state. This brings the question of power of District Magistrate who represents the Indian state. They need to protect the Constitution and allow people to go for free movement with proper protection. The cases need to register against the DM of each district who is failing to protect the migrant labour and their movement without food and medicine. I wrote sometime back in a post the powers given under Indian Constitution to the DM who are supposed to protect the migrant labour and provide them basic facilities for their movement. They are failing today as many of the civil servants are not aware of their constitutional obligation to ordinary citizens.

Two people bowed down to important places: One is the present Prime Minister who got elected to Lok Sabha for the first time 2014 and before entering into Parliament bowed down at the entry point showing his obligation to the Indian Parliament by electing him. Modi as a pracharak in RSS could not dream of reaching that stage which is unexpected on his part to be the Prime Minister of biggest democracy. With less education having no knowledge of history, society and modernity he unexpectedly turned into a successful politician with the backing of the corporate Houses specifically the Gujarati industrialists. When one gets something unexpected then he bows down to the place which made him the Prime Minister. As a religious person he could have gone to Tirupati and offered prayers but he consciously took a stand to bow down to the parliament by reimagining the place as a temple. He has entered into the temple without knowing rituals and matras and feeling baffled by the aura of parliament by seeing extremely brilliant politicians sitting in opposition to him. He took an oath to defeat these opponents who were outstanding persons. He sabotaged the parliament procedures to bring the legislation. As a leader of the treasury he brought the important bills by redesigning these bills as the finance bills and passed those in the Lok Sabha as he knows the Rajya Sabha has no role in the finance bill. He brought the bill without circulating the copies of bill to be introduced on the floor of Lok Sabha. His gesture of bowing down to Lok Sabha was a way of destroying the parliamentary democracy.

The second person is a migrant labour who bowed down to train before entering into the train. A hungry without cash without work after two months of unemployment is able to enter into the train which was impossible in the time of Corona as no trains are running and some migrant trains are running but if you need to prior permission to get into the train. All such obstacles have been by crossed by a poor migrant labour and in the end he got into the train. Just before entering into the train he bowed down to the train at the entry of the gate. Both Modi, the most known person of this country bowed down to Parliament which was impossible and beyond his dream as a pracharak but here in the case of migrant labour something he is struggling for last two months for get into a train. Both look impossible and became possible made them bowing down.

The Supreme Court of India has spoken out its mind regarding constitutional rights of migrant labour in India. It is late but welcomed by all. The sufferings of migrant labour without money, food and water has created a havoc in the daily lives of millions of workers. They are desperate to go back to their homes which explains the deurbanisation of India. They are without cash but are forced to buy full ticket between 600 to 1000 which is a burden on them. This is being recognized by the judgment that the tickets need to be paid by the Indian government and food and water to be delivered to the workers in trains by the Railway department. Furthermore the state governments have to pay their bus fare and food and water till they reach their homes. Most of the High Courts have already given the similar judgement over the plight of migrant workers. It is good that Supreme Court has come in the end stood with the High Courts on the issue migrant labour.This is an indictment of Modi government during Covid 19.

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Jun 2, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

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