It is interesting to watch governments around the world reacting/responding to the COVID-19 crisis in myriad ways. Particularly, the responses of the right-wing governments including India, where I come from, make for great case studies, should we live to tell the tale.
Aside from a badly planned lockdown (that has been admirably managed and damage-controlled through non-state civic actors on the ground), the Indian government seems to resort to a sound-and-light show. The sound component happened on Mar 22. The light show is scheduled for Apr 5 at 9 pm IST. I am guessing there might be other sensory inputs going forward (perhaps, a Hindutva-flavoured cow urine health-shot to activate the taste-buds?). And of course, there is no dearth of the well-orchestrated astrological justification that follows immediately after the PM issues his command around these gimmicks.
Having said that, a democracy runs as well as the collective consciousness of its citizens. So this post is not about the government, but about the role of citizens. The 5 pm national clapping exercise on Mar 22 was a cacophonous clanging of pots and pans, much to the disregard of everyone that may have been traumatised by the decibel levels. And it proved how well a mindless country could be commandeered into irrational acts by using an efficiently manipulated social media machinery.
The light show is one step forward: it not only further engages the mindless automatons a large mass of Indians seem to be becoming, but is quite in violation of our constitutional right to privacy (interpreted in conjunction with Art. 21 of the Constitution — refer to Kharak Singh v. State of UP and several other case laws that followed). If one is among the minority in a neighbourhood who chooses to keep the lights on at 9 pm on Apr 5, it is open for all the vigilantes around to take note and make the minority vulnerable to persecution. If this is not fascist, what more are we waiting for?
The point is not about whether one supports the government or not. But whatever you choose to do, please remember the repercussions of your choice on your neighbours. And know that you are responsible for it.
If the intention is indeed to be appreciative of those that keep essential services running in these times, here are a few requests:
- Take care of the families of emergency and healthcare workers in your community. Perhaps, offer to pick up their groceries or supply their meals. It will let them know that their dear ones are taken care of, even as they fight on the frontlines.
- Stay indoors as much as you can and maintain hygiene. Help them actualise what they are striving (and sometimes, giving their lives) for.
- Don’t lose sight of the larger picture. Life needs rebuilding after this, even if that is a few months later. Remember what you have learnt now and do not waste what this opportunity has shown us about what is essential.
The pandemic may be a transient situation. Our democracy (or the loss of it) is not. Be responsible for the choices you make about that now.
#democracy #ConsciousPolitics #Covid #India