The big Indian divide amid rising COVID-19 cases

NorthEastToday and The Sangai Express 28/04/2020
It is no wonder that anything in India is viewed from the prism of two angles; left and right. The outbreak of Covid-19 is no exception to this. While the left/liberals have for long raised the alarming issues of the acute shortage of test-kits and medical infrastructure and shared their exasperation that indulgence in clapping and lighting candle was just an eye-wash purposely arranged to divert the general public from the grim realities prevailing in the country, the rights opined that the Government needs the support of its citizen at this grave juncture and the PM’s initiatives imbibe a sense of togetherness and unity in this fight against the virus.
The unfortunate outbreak of the virus from Tablighi Jamaat event at Nizamuddin Markaz has seen debate on combating Covid-19 took an ugly turn where one section of people accused the participants of flouting government advisories and making a mockery of the national effort in fighting the virus, whereas the other group condemned the congregation and blames the Government for allowing the event to take place in the first place but expressed their concerns over the stereotyping of a particular religion. Consequent upon the alleged circulation of fake news and rumours, the Government has introduced strict media regulations which again is meted with two opposing views; one which says the Government is infringing on the rights to freedom of expression and the other that applauds the Government for taking the unprecedented bold initiative of curbing rumours at this fateful juncture.
The prevalence of political opportunism on the outbreak of Coronavirus is not India specific. In fact, the same is being used by many in America to find loopholes in Trump’s administration. The down crash of oil prices is attributed by many to Trump’s failure as an administrator, notwithstanding the daily brickbats, the POTUS has been receiving over the alarming increase in the number of affected people by Covid-19. Israel has its own share of political turmoil revolving around the deadly virus. The world has for the first time seen an enemy undaunted by political ideologies and geographical locations; the virus is united and has no special love or hate for the rights or lefts.
In India, very closely revolved around the left and right animosity is the issue of minorities and majorities’ rights. “Those attacking police and doctors should be shot,” tweeted a relative of a prominent Bollywood actor. The twitter account of the said person got suspended after alleged complaints by a section of people who viewed the tweet as an open attack on the minorities. Thereafter, an uproar followed where people, mostly from the right wings condemned the measures adopted by twitter and demanded banning the popular social media platform in India. “In this country, one can call the PM a terrorist, but not the terrorists. Twitter should be banned in India,” fumed a renowned actor who has been for long locking horns with people of left/liberal views in and outside the film industry.
Then, somewhere in Maharashtra, three people were killed by a mob on suspicion of thievery, out of which two belong to priest of the majorities’ religion. Now the Right wings have demanded the resignation of CM. The lefts/liberals, on the other hand, are accused of being silent on the matter. ‘Would these same group of people maintained their silence if two Muslim priests or fathers were lynched?’ asked a well-known journalist, who have announced his resignation from the Editor’s Guild of India on Live National Television. Ironically, another prominent journalist dismissed the resignation as insignificant by saying that the person has never attended any meetings of the Editor Guild in the past 12 years.
The idea of a debate is constructive as long as it does not involve religious instigations and provocations, personal attacks and opportunistic venture for scoring political brownie points – which are exactly what is beheld now. Worse, the verbal personal attacks lead to the filing of a series of FIRs and have now escalated to alleged physical assaults.
In a country where 80 per cent of the population follows the same religion, if the minorities and the majorities both feel threatened and if the right wings and the left/liberal wings both play the victim card, it is time to seriously retrospect the identity we chose to affiliate with. And while people are dying everyday and the number of affected increase by thousand daily, the continued war of words in the past few days over political issues is not a promising development. Covid-19 is yet to get a central attention where the left and right leave their rigid ideological stance and meet at the centre, for once. Time will eventually teach us though that Covid-19 is more serious an issue than our ideologies. Being Indian should be our only identity and humanity our ideology, at least for now.


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