The Governor of New York and Prime Minister Modi: A comparison

Radhakanta Barik

The governor of New York says that there are two truths: one regarding the Corona and another on civil protest against the death of a black person by the police. As the governor he respects both. New York takes the leading role in fighting for liberty and justice in America. He admits that facts related to deaths of black people have happened in different times of American history which is a black spot in the democratic history of America. He is concerned of the truth and then actions can be taken in police forces which should not repeat this incident. Prime Minister Modi has one truth that is Corona and there is Lockdown and anybody differs from the announcement can be in jail. The second issue is the problems of millions of workers who are created because of Lockdown. His decision to declare the Lockdown has made them unemployed labour. There is on train or bus but they walked homes without food and water. Police harassed them and eight of workers got killed by the policemen but no action by Mr. Modi. No inquiry into the conditions of migrant labour yet.  No package for the workers. The governor of New York accepts two truths and wants to defend the right to protest but here only one truth but Mr. Modi does not accept it and no package for the workers. Here police action led to torture and deaths but no action against the police men. Some of the policemen got involved in the communal riots of Delhi with the Hindutva supporters but no action yet no charge sheet but charge sheets against who differed from them who questioned them.

Prime Minister Modi during the Covid 19 invited the editors of leading newspapers and electronic channels who were requested by him not to criticize his policy. This has influenced the most of the editors and owners who got influenced by him or manipulated by him that they start supporting his policy uncritically. The best example is the Hindustan Times which has started siding with the Modi Raj. Let us examine the case of New York Times which published an article in favour of inviting army to crush the Civil Rights movement which not only opposed by many including generals. But those working in the New York Times went on strike demanding the solidarity with the civil rights movement. This is the strength of the newspaper in America whereas our newspapers and their owners have crumbled under the pressures of Prime Minister Modi.

Mr. Modi's decision to declare Lockdown in mid night two months back was a great mistake as it shows most of our industries have got closed and workers have gone back without work and without income to their villages. The disease Corona has spread to different parts of India without any stoppage. India should have gone for partial lockdown at the local level and power to declare lockdown should have gone to the District Collector under the National Disaster Act as he or she is in charge of District Disaster Authority. Power should not have gone to the Prime Minister who went for national Lockdown where the power was handed over to the police men who tortured workers and ordinary citizens and collected huge fines from innocent people in the name of moving in their cars.

During the time of Covid 19 the state has disrupted the trust between citizens and policemen. As police is the major instrument of the Indian State not the instrument of the government. Citizen’s faith over the police and state has shaken. Citizens will never trust the police men in future. They have tortured workers who went on foot to their villages. The police arrested local activist who campaigned against the CAA which is a constitutional protest. They are suffering in the jails. Newspapers have been manipulated by Modi and judiciary has been manipulated by him to give blind support for his policy. The best example is the Hindustan Times the oldest and largest circulated paper has always taken an independent stand. Today it is blindly supporting the Modi raj.

Rahul Gandhi- Rajiv Bajaj dialogue needs to be underlined here that any way out of the lockdown needs to be based on without fear than people on their own are going to invest in the economy and society. Fear of Corona must be dispelled that a disease may affect anybody but it is curable. Otherwise fear of disease has pushed people to live inside their cocoons. Fear will go only if value of tolerance is there. Here for some years that political regime does not encourage tolerance which is affecting the economy society and polity. Next point is this that one needs to handle people with an element of empathy. They have lost their confidence because the political regime has ignored them.

Lack of confidence among labour, industrialists and middle class have created problems for revival of economy No foreign capital will flow unless people have confidence and that Indian touch needs to be kept with every technology. That Japanese technology, western professionalism and Indian style need to be converged together. Here Modi needs to reinvent the old tradition of Indian civilisation where tolerance and fearlessness must create confidence among people to start work for handling the risky business. Circulated independent paper has gone to be a blind supporter of Mr. Modi Are we losing our constitutional rights and now we declare our Republic as a feudal autocracy.

Our prosperity is elusive one. Yesterday the NDTV journalists were talking to migrant workers who returned from their places of work to home town Muzaffarpur found that they have no work in the district. They used to earn 250 to 350 in far off places like Pune, Surat and Mumbai or Assam. This they cannot earn the same amount in Bihar. Bihar is being ruled by BJP and JD U for over a decade but no increase in their life style among workers. Then the journalists went to their houses and found that they were eating chapati and dal and on inquiry from the journalists of the sabji they smiled only and accepted that they could not eat sabji in the working places nor in their home towns. It looks as if our prosperity after liberalization and after Modi's coming to power is highly elusive and it may disappear by confronting the one crisis like Lockdown. They all pushed to the below poverty line once more. Those earning Rs250 to 350 have joined the rank of poor once more in Bihar.

Ghana-born German international striker Gerald Asamoah after kicking the ball into goal post removed his jersey and kicked another ball into the world human rights post that he stands for American black George Floyd who got killed by the Police while under his boots and he shouted "I cannot breathe and I am dying". George Floyd case has turned into a mass movement where blacks and white all joined hands against racialism and brutal behavior of the police men. This statement comes every day from some corner of India either a migrant worker gets killed by the police or a Dalit black girl or boy gets killed by the upper caste person and a tribal gets killed by the police or Muslim youth gets arrested by the police on false charges but no anger no protest in universities or no protest in the cricket pitch or football stadium . Are we losing human values and human sentiment under the Modi regime?

Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary in his article in HT says that India's relationship with its neighbors specifically China, Nepal and Pakistan is not in a friendly manner as the foreign policy is framed in 'New York' rather than Delhi. This is a profound observation by such a seniour diplomat. Hindutva has an agenda of big brother approach to its neighbors specifically Nepal where they think that Nepal king was their king as that was the only Hindu kingdom. Nepal a Hindu majority state has gone for declaring secular state as religion needs to be separated from politics and public life. India being a continental size with a diverse people is claiming more a Hindu rastra which is creating problems for Kashmir people and people of India while fighting against the Corona as the communal dimension has been reintroduced by the present government. India and China have old non alignment policy based on panchasheel which is getting violated by Modi government as he is ready to listen to Trump his friend and rather than his diplomats working in Delhi. Pakistan is their permanent enemy for nurturing their outdated ideology Hindutva and its aggrandizement policy. They do not want to be friendly with neighbours as their ideal is Israel who is in a hostile mood with Palestine. India needs to be in a hostile nation with its neighbours. They want to spend more money in Defence rather than health and education which need to be strengthened today as the threat of Corona is lingering. There are no hospitals in Delhi and Gujarat to take care of Corona patients as they do not believe in building public hospitals. Modi government has not built a new hospital in Delhi and the old hospital was supposed to be inaugurated in Dwaraka built by the past Congress Government has been kept unfinished. All the neighbours will show their teeth to India as our economy is getting weakened and human capital is getting weakened because of poor investment in education and health.

During the Vajpayee regime there was a popular word for Vajpayee that he was the 'Mukhata' rather than real face of the Hindutva politics. Real politics was handled by Advani the hardened Hindtuva person. The same thing can be repeated today in the case of Modi as he has turned into a 'Mukhata' whereas Amit Shah has turned into real Hindutva person. The way he handled the communal riots in Delhi whereas the Hindutva members actively participated in the riots as the Home Minister said ' outsiders' but investigation by Delhi Police Crime branch has filed large number of cases against those who were the active in the anti CAA movement. This is an unconstitutional act which has been challenged in the Supreme Court and still it is pending but the movement was constitutional according to the Supreme Court but the arrests have been made randomly where students from JNU and Jamia are being arrested on false charges and criminal cases have been filed against them under the National Security Act. Prime Minister Modi is silent over such a sordid affair and a blot in Indian democracy. Today Indian Democracy losing its soul and strength and violating basic human rights of political and social workers who are on the forefront of various struggles including providing help to the millions of migrant workers.


A poem on Indian democracy written by me given below:

We do not have a statue of liberty
but we have a statue of unity
Under the statue we need to defend our freedom
But we defend slavery
We lived in feudalism where slavery is accepted
We lived in capitalism where freedom is respected
But we have combined both
We respect freedom till you support me
Your differences I cannot tolerate
your thinking I do not agree
but I respect yours
Voltaire tells us to defend other's views
Even I do not agree
Our rulers say that unless you agree with us
We will send the police
the false case can be filed against you
Your liberty is in our hands
Your freedom is in our hands
We will decide how much freedom you need
We will decide what you want to write
We will decide what you are thinking
You cannot question religion
you cannot question Ram
We forget Ram's action was questioned by his wife
Sita told Lakhman," your brother king is timid"
He does not have guts to tell me that what are my crimes
In Mahabharata Arjun questioned Krishna
He could not launch war against own brothers
Democracy demands freedom to speak
Freedom to differ
Freedom to question
but your freedom is not to question the king
The king is absolute here
His authority cannot be challenged here
Here king cannot do wrong
King is always right
We have democracy
Freedom to criticize everybody
Except the king
Hindutva does not believe in two opinions
Only one opinion
They do not have multiple opinions
Hindutva is ruling
That one god one country one nation
There is no second opinion
You cannot say
I am not patriotic
Like Tagore
You cannot say
I am not nationalistic
the moment you say these words
Like Tagore 's poem on Freedom has been removed
You can be removed from your home
you can be kept in jail
You have no right to know what is the charge
You are like Sita who does not know her the charge
She lived in Jungles
You are in the jails
It is the decision of King and his minister of Home
They decide who are going to be in the jails
They hate Indian constitution
Which defends right to liberty
They hate democracy
They do not like your freedom
They are ignorant of the law
They want obedience of yours
Your loyal to the king
Loyal to Lord Ram
Loyal to the police
Loyal to the army
That is nationalism
We are being ruled by nationalist forces
Anybody differ from these forces
Are enemies of the nation
But we defend the right to liberty
This is what I enjoy most in democracy
For me another opinion is respected
I differ from him or her
But I will defend him or her
We live in a democracy
We defend right to liberty

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Jun 9, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

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