Coronavirus a lesson for India

Radhakanta Barik

The medical advice for social distancing of patients suffering from Coronavirus makes me feel scared. In rural Odisha the family and kinship network used to keep their relatives suffering from leprosy outside the village boundary. As a child I have seen people committed suicides by drowning themselves into the river. One of my close relatives suffered from leprosy in our village who was kept away in their farm house without food. This was done by suspecting him suffering from leprosy. He lived till 90 without bothering of his family members and started cooking food himself. He got engaged in gardening and planting fruit trees in his farm. He is no more and the family one time well to do have nothing to fall back and they depend on the horticultural farm created by my grandfather. What a joke on their family who started keeping him at a social distance. At present those suffering from Coronavirus till today are rich people who can be kept at social distancing in their bungalows, but what will happen to the common people once start suffering from Coronavirus? Will it be called modern leprosy?

Concept of Justice looks as if the problem of the affected family. It is a problem of legal and constitutional state and its capacity to deliver justice through its institutions. Hanging of any body is not a part of Justice system. As Shakespeare says that Justice needs to be ridden with mercy. The mercy part has been progressively removed from the implementation of Justice in India. The powerful and rich involved in the same crime needs to be given a differential amount of justice itself violates the moral principles of justice. Hanging of these four people from the slums of Delhi shows that moral authority of state is getting questioned as Sengher MLA from BJP is involved in heinous crimes of rape of a young girl and murder of her father and killing of another friend of a girl have got punished for ten years for murdering which brings out truth that state of India is losing its legitimacy by giving a differential treatment to the persons for the same crimes. Quantum of punishment needs to be defined for the nature of crime not class or caste basis of the person involved.

Prime Minister's concern for the welfare of people of India can be tested by giving an empty speech without content. This is the time for providing good governance. A stable government by Kamalnath could have managed the affected people with Coronavirus but Modi's party used six thousand crores with them for election fund for destabilising the government at such a critical moment. People are protesting against the CAA and NPR where the best preventive measure not having a gathering of people then he should have gone for withdrawal of the CAA which would have brought the protesters to come back to their homes. The third thing that riot organised by the RSS in Delhi made lakhs of people homeless which forced them to stay in camps which might affect their health because of Corona. Truth is this that the RSS do not have a concept of welfare of people which they are ruling for creating riots, dividing people. The political economy of Coronavirus has been ignored by Modi as the Prime Minister in his address to the nation. Workers, shopkeepers, autowalas taxiwalas all are losing income because they are being forced not to work as the streets are desolate and markets are closed. But no income supplementing for these working people. But he has enough patience for the Yes Bank plunderers who have appropriated almost more than 50 thousand crores of public money. Now SBI is pumping its money into it. We have a Prime Minister who is so insensitive to needs of people. As a gesture for imposing janta curfew he would have announced the withdrawal of CAA and NRC by which people are not forced to come to the streets. His speech lacks substance and he is an empty vessel roars a lot.

Coronavirus is being renamed as Chinese virus by Trump but his friend here in India has no opinion yet. He has given an address to the nation.  He has not used something like Pakistan virus as he used to blame everything to Pakistan.

Doctors advise the public for maintaining social distance which can protect them from Coronavirus. I want to tell the sad story related to the family from where the bread earners died of the cholera the mass killing disease during 1950s. The family got disintegrated. In the rural Odisha when difficulties come family gets disintegrated. The family got divided into many parts. Some of the male members fled away from the village leaving widows and children back. They started living on by selling their land which their parents had left behind. The family turned into a family of daily wagers and their children who turned adults started working as daily wagers with their women. A middle-income family with land and livestock economy got pauperised at a faster pace. After eighty years they have not been able to revive their economic activities. I fear what is going to happen to the families affected by Coronavirus despite some health facilities are available now.

Within the first week of spread of Coronavirus India is looking stand still. Most of the cities have been declared locked down. As we do not have any social security network for the daily wagers. Indian government under Modi has no alternative plan for providing them some income to the workers who are badly affected. They do not have any arrangement for keeping in spread of unscientific information related to disease they have started celebrating the scene such as gomutra festival. The government must take an immediate action against them as they are going to create fear in the minds of public. The West Bengal government has arrested some of them involved in vandalism. Let us hope the Modi government takes action against this sort of vandalism and provide social security package on a war footing manner which can save the millions of workers and daily wagers.

Today India is suffering from Corona virus as reported it may lead to mass killing. What can defend people? Surely not religion but science and technology. Imagine 250 children died in Gorakhpur where the chief minister Yogi did puja in his math for seven days without visiting the poorly managed hospital. Today they are building the Ram Temple, with that much money they could have built AIMS in each district of UP and saved children and people of UP. The present government does not have respect for science and technology and they go for building the temples and statues. In our village they have built a Hanuman temple but no hospital has been built there. But people today depend and trust the AIMS built by Nehru whom they that We as senior citizens are being advised to stay inside the house and look at birds at the time of spread of Coronavirus. Delhi had a large number of trees and large number of birds but trees are being cut for doing construction works which has affected the number of birds. Four years back while I was staying in ITO the most crowded point of Delhi used to take pictures of birds which came around forty five but the tragedy came to the existence of peacock who used to share the same space as we used to live in. But with the construction six lane outer ring road they started dying as they could not fly to the river Yamuna. They used to live in the graveyard of the Muslim community having a lot of trees. For four years in Dwaraka I used to see the large number of birds around as there is a lot of green space here. For last four months we found the trees are getting cut and making space for selling the land owned by DDA here. The number of birds has started shrinking here. This is the spring when a lot of birds come to the Neem trees and peepal trees having new leaves but this year number is less. I as a senior citizen living in Dwaraka without any public library and public hospital I feel scared of the Corona virus. During the Congress Government a major hospital was getting constructed but yet not complete by the present Delhi Government as the private doctors make money here and have put pressures on the present government not to go for completing the work. The Chinese government built two Hospitals within 15days suffering from Coronavirus. Delhi government must give finishing touch to the Hospital which is under construction for 7 years.

The RSS has a definite approach to politics and power that it is a place for enjoyment. As royal power is closely associated with wealth, women and wine, this guides these people to rule. By spending public money they want to enjoy life and world as they believe in that they have done something good in the past life as they are enjoying this life. Modi used to enjoy for the last five years as a royal person with its paraphernalia by going abroad and spending time and having all sorts of luxuries in India. He wants to help his friends Ambani and Adani etc and Shah for which he went for going for demonitisation which is a monumental blunder but he is not bothered. He is a great manager of the twenty game which he enjoys most. Six years have passed and he wants another four years to be passed somehow. This is the way common people look at Modi from a distance and you talk to autowala, taxi wala and daily labour this is the perception of Modi and his aura.

For the first time he is showing concern for affected people because of Coronavirus? This is a million dollar question? India has many types of politicians and Modi is a special breed. This brings the question of rich and powerful are affected by the disease who are mostly in the air and come to earth some time. He is showing concern as an administrator just because of his interest in class and caste (upper caste) or something more. This needs to be analyzed.

One of the Indian states suffered from Coronavirus that is Kerala which has effectively handled the health crisis. The basic precondition for handling the crisis with the help of the Public Health system which is in sound state. As Kerala has a large number of people working outside of the state and it is the major source for sending the highest foreign exchange to Indian exchequer. Kerala cannot avoid it as a book ' Kerala Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow ' written by EMS Namboodiripad shows that in 1908 they had one person out of 16 working outside of Kerala. It is because of education and anti-caste movement. This strengthened political democracy which allowed people belonging to lower castes and communities to have freedom to work outside. Position of Kerala is peculiar to Indian economy. It is the first state which implemented land reforms which helped in empowerment of both men and women. In skilled and semi-skilled jobs such as carpentry, nursing both men and women move out for higher wage. They cannot avoid the disease like Coronavirus while they are coming to their home town. For a month they started suffering from this disease but they managed with the scientific propaganda regarding the powerful disease and creating a crisis management team of experts to handle such a crisis. They realised it that because of disease a large number of working people small shop keepers are losing their income. The restaurant boys are losing the jobs as the most of the restaurants are being closed. The government of Kerala made a political consensus by inviting the opposition parties to share the campaign. The government has announced the package of Rs 200 crores for those who have lost their income. This needs to be replicated at the national level as Taxi drivers started crying two days back in Delhi after waiting whole day got a passenger to airport. This reflects the daily wagers are losing their income. For instance the closure of restaurants and hotels will affect 7. 5 Lakh employees all over India who will be laid off because of the corona virus. PM Modi did speak to the nation but without any economic package for the working and middle class who are going to be badly affected. It seems that Kerala model needs to be replicated on all India level which is the responsibility of the Modi government.

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Mar 24, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

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