Fascism (noun): “a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control of social and economic life, and extreme pride in country and race, with no expression of political disagreement allowed.”
This defines our India now, the ‘greatest democracy in the world’ (allegedly) that has become a classic fascist regime propped up by a totalitarian society.
In January 2020, when the world had started preparing for a major healthcare emergency, India was busy oppressing and demonizing ‘anti-national liberal intellectuals’ struggling for their basic human rights and protesting against CAA+NRC. Many of them are still struggling for survival, many in prisons without trial and denied free speech and rights we probably cannot even count.
FASCISM IS INHUMANE
INDIFFERENCE BEGETS EVIL
IGNORANCE DOESN’T ABSOLVE
SILENCE IS CONSENT
In February, when WHO had already declared Covid-19 a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ (PHEIC) and had asked countries with weak healthcare systems to start preparing, India was busy with ‘Namaste Trump’ aka Indo-U.S. ‘Fascist Alliance’ event, the agenda and benefits of which still remain evidently nil. We were busy succumbing to the evergreen communal Divide-and-Rule strategy that lead to Delhi pogrom (not riots), the instigators of which are still free without even an FIR filed against them.
In March, when WHO declared it a pandemic and repeatedly warned against the alarming levels of spread and severity, made worse due to negligence and inaction, the government was busy purchasing MLAs in Madhya Pradesh. Towards the end of the month the authorities had finally started to wake up to the fact that this pandemic cannot be ignored and enforced the Janata Curfew. Just when it seemed we might unite to fight this crisis, lo and behold, the Tablighi Jamaat gathering gave us enough fuel to push divisive bigotry, an Islamophobic narrative that is still multiplying at a rate even faster than coronavirus, thanks to the super spreaders- our desi ‘Fourth Reich’ press and social media. Then the ‘5 Baje, 5 Minute’ event made it clear that the administration’s incompetent approach would continue as it not only ignored the socio-economic problems faced by our Emergency Services’ workers but also continued to oppress those speaking out against the lack of PPEs and fair pay. Then came the launch of ‘PM-CARES’ fund, the need and use of which still remains unclear due to lack of auditing and answerability.
In April, when the lockdowns were extended and developed nations of Europe were reeling under as the coronavirus hotspots, we continued with tasks like the ‘9 PM, 9 Minutes’ event. Another narrative of ‘Corona-terrorism’ was attempted with the usual scapegoat Pakistan to distract people from real issues. Meanwhile USA, which is probably the ‘greatest DEVELOPING country in the world’ when it comes to healthcare, emerged as the new hotspot with Donald Trump making the same mistakes Modi did (or is it the other way round?).
And now we are into May, which has again started with the ‘Thanksgiving’ event that has left our brave heroes, the doctors, nurses and the emergency services workers, feeling like proud ‘Thanksgiving Turkeys’ as they continue to suffer due to lack of real support from society, governments and administrations. We also continue to ignore the plight of millions of the poor, vulnerable workers who have helped build our country with their sweat and now blood since we have ‘normalized’ their suffering as something unavoidable to save our nation. Meanwhile another ‘greatest country in the world’, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, has become another hotspot since it has followed a similar path like Trump’s America. Similar trends can be observed in other nations such as Bolsonaro’s Brazil and the numbers, if reported correctly, are enough to show it. Modi’s India appears to have been quite lucky despite its failure in Testing/Tracing and the disastrous lockdowns at the expense of its economy. As we keep looking for a non-existent flattening of India’s Covid-19 curve, the only curve that has flattened and looks set to collapse is that of our economy’s GDP. Fascists love lockdowns because they represent power and control, but unplanned, failed lockdowns have catastrophic results. As the cases continue to rise exponentially and we remain in denial of how unprepared we are, what happens when India emerges as the next hotspot?
We need to understand that Fascism is directly proportional to destruction in the times of a pandemic and the economic collapse. It escalates inhumanity and injustice. Such countries are failing at saving their economies and protecting their people. Media, which is one of the pillars of any democracy, has either sold out or has been censored. And those who question this are either ignored/oppressed or labelled ‘anti-national’. Our ‘Economic Task Force’ has announced the great, fake 20-L Crore package that has failed to reach millions of vulnerable citizens who need help RIGHT NOW. How can we look up to a Prime Minister who has not held any real press conference since he came to power and has no interest in answering our questions? His addresses to the nation have always proven to be out of touch with reality and on-ground situations and have merely been reduced to PR campaigns. During this mass-migration of Indian workers left with no food, no jobs and no hope, why hasn’t he even addressed them directly and advised them to stay where they are while assuring all possible help (even if it would not come)? We have been forced to depend on one man for the answers, the man who refuses to take any real question, even when millions of lives depend on it. Does the PM have no accountability, at least to the thousands of these workers who voted for him and have been left without help on roads and rail tracks right now? The lockdown has FAILED and we have wasted the last 5 critical months instead of fighting the pandemic and building our healthcare system, which should have been the primary goal of the lockdown. Let us at least start asking questions and demand for practical, constructive answers.
Just because we are better off (for now) than the migrant workers dying on the streets and railway tracks they built, we are going to turn a blind eye (as always) towards this crisis? Do we understand the hypocrisy in cheering this government’s ‘twitter trend policies’ that have not reached those who do not even own smartphones and are starving without the support they deserve?
Let us be proud of the NGOs and people selflessly working day and night to help them. But let us not forget that it is the government’s responsibility and NGOs can never match the demand and scale of the support-system that is the need of the hour. This is a humanitarian crisis and the whole world is watching. And if there is any humanity left in the world leaders, there will be consequences if the government does not address this situation in time, because this crisis is too big to go unnoticed.
There is so much to think about, ask and discuss, most of which would probably not be allowed because, in the words of hon’ble Home Minister Amit Shah ji, ‘Western Standards of Human Rights’ unfortunately do not apply in India anymore. We are all responsible for what has happened and we would all be guilty for what is coming. Maybe it is not too late.
The author is an IT professional based in Hyderabad.