We The People
“Even the strongest blizzards start with a single snowflake.” ― Sara Raasch
Rarely in the life of a nation has the political and economic leadership let down its people so much as we have seen in India over the past few months. A lockdown gone wrong with no sign of ending, an economy that lies battered with little hope of immediate recovery, a border penetrated with not even an acknowledgement. And we had thought that India would be a superpower one day. When our own leaders are pushing us down an abyss so deep that it will take many years for us to recover, how should we respond? Do we stay silent and accept the reality as meekly as we did when we let the British rule over us? Or do we do something? What is our responsibility as a people when our own elected leaders are letting us down and weakening the edifice of our nation?
Does the answer lie in announcing lockdown after lockdown under the guise of Unlock X? What will change a month later or two months later that the lockdowns will end? We know that the virus is not as virulent as we once thought it was. And yet, we are shuttering many parts of the country because no one wants to tell the truth that we need to learn to live with it and get on with daily activities. The bureaucrats have unleashed their own virus with rules that hamper daily life.
How long will this go on? If it is the virus today because we fear, why not lock the roads of the country because they too can kill people? There are two solutions and we are not prepared to face up to both: the need to create more healthcare infrastructure to face up to the increased caseload, and the necessity of getting life back to normal with masks and care. The fear instilled in late March needs to be removed – but no politician in the country is willing to do it because they are all old and worry about their own lives. And so, we will suffer as a nation.
The economic damage is not visible in the stock markets and balance sheets of a few companies. But it is everywhere else. Just because small and medium businesses have no organised voice does not mean that they don’t feel the pain. Just because migrants have gone back and are now getting free food and field work it does not mean that their futures are bright. Just because there are loan moratoriums doesn’t mean that tomorrow will be better than today. Are we ready to accept the 85% economy as the new normal? Do we even understand what the implications of that are on livelihoods?
And then there is China. For the first time in nearly 60 years, we have foreign occupation of our land. But do we care? We let the British rule us. We let the Mughals in. And we went about our daily lives. When we cannot even truthfully acknowledge the presence of the Chinese in our territory, why should we worry? Ban some apps. Impose some tariffs. Make some noisy statements about the one-who-will-not-be-named. And begin the daily distraction show with a new sequence of events.
Is this our India? When the political and economic leadership abdicates its responsibility, should we be idle bystanders? The Preamble of the Constitution starts with “We, the People.” It does not begin with “It, the Government.” What should We, the People, do? Or has the virus eaten away our ability to feel angry and act? Are there no Indians who are willing to put the nation above self? What can we do? If we don’t win today’s battles, what freedom will we have left to celebrate tomorrow? Are We even a People? Or just sheep controlled by a pack of wolves?
Tomorrow: Part 11