Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of COVID 19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Mr Narendra Modi.
The door-to-door Polio vaccination led to the complete elimination of wild polioviruses (WPVs) and India has become a Polio free country in 2014. In the same way, India has resources and institutional infrastructure today to mobilise itself to face the Coronavirus pandemic. But the lack political will of the Modi government led to such a disastrous situation. The misguided priorities, unscientific, ignorance and arrogance of Hindutva politics have contributed to the havoc created by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Indian government is grossly mismanaged today by the medieval Hindutva leadership due to the lack of humanitarian visions. Health and wellbeing of people are not the priority of Modi government.
The Hindutva politics has provided patronage to different religious and political mass gatherings that fuelled the spread of Coronavirus in India. These deaths are caused by political and administrative failures of the government led the Hindutva fundamentalists and their poster boy Mr Narendra Modi. The lack of medical infrastructure, hospitals beds, medicines, doctors and nurses contributed immensely for the growing number of Covid related deaths. The centralisation of power under Modi and his ideological entitlement of bulling political opponents and administrative machinery has led to failures of existing institutions to respond and engage with such a crisis situation.
In spite of glaring failures, Modi government continue to be on its ego trip and misplaced priorities continue to drive the arrogance of Modi and his government. The labourers are ferried as essential workers to construct the Central Vista project for a new parliament building. The Modi government considers it as essential services in the middle of a devastating pandemic. The Modi led BJP government has failed to protect lives and liberties of Indian citizens during this pandemic because of arrogant, ignorant and unscientific leadership produced by the Hindutva ideology shaped by the RSS. The Hindutva leadership and its budget cuts have made Indian institutions and state governments fail by which they can blame the state governments and leadership and pave the path towards BJP’s electoral gain. The arrogance and inflated egos of Mr Narendra Modi and BJP leadership have created conditions for the triple mutant Coronavirus to spread in an unparallel scale in India.
The Hindutva forces led by BJP and RSS are drunk with state power. Mr Narendra Modi is blinded so much by his own arrogance and self-importance that he is unable to see the human tragedy as a fellow human being. He looks at the crisis in India in terms of his electoral calculations by blaming people working in the field and responding to the pandemic in their limited capacities. His Hindutva colleagues externalise the pandemic by calling it a Chinese virus and blames everyone without taking any form of accountabilities as the PM of India.
The RSS authoritarian training of Mr Narendra Modi has made him as an ideologically rigid individual devoid of scientific approach to democratic governance and delivery of basic welfare services like health. His Hindutva training makes him obsessed with state power at all costs of human lives during this pandemic. He stands with his crony capitalist friends and pharmaceutical corporations doing business of sickness. However, the arrogant and ignorant leaders like Modi have always failed the test of time in history and the present will be no different. It is clear that inflated egos of Modi and self-serving Hindutva forces are devastating to India and Indians. Arrogance, ignorance and assaults on science and reason are the governing virtues of Hindutva ideology, which celebrates all forms of crises and shock therapy. In the past and present, the Hindutva ideologues look at crisis as an opportune moment to reorganise and reorder the society based on exploitative social hierarchy based on Brahminical caste order. These reactionary forces promote and consolidate Indian society based on might is right principles of majoritarianism. The current COVID-19 nightmare is a product of such Hindutva ideological praxis at work in India.
The COVID-19 virus can be defeated by universal vaccination, but the dangers of Hindutva virus is looming large on Indian masses. Hindutva virus is as dangerous as Coronavirus. Both reorganise society and pave the path for authoritarianism. In addition, Hindutva virus promotes unfettered market fundamentalism, social, political and cultural conservatism which are extremely dangerous for India and Indians. As the devastating second wave of Coronavirus settles down, India and Indians need to reflect on their political consciousness beyond the Brahminical identity politics and nativist thinking of RSS and BJP.
The wrath of Hindutva virus will cause more conflicts, deaths and destitutions than the Coronavirus if these forces are not defeated ideologically and politically. India needs an organised mass movement to clean the virus of Hindutva from Indian society for its survival in present and future. It is better for Indians to prepare themselves to fight Hindutva political epidemic for the survival of India in peace and prosperity. There is no other option but to increase Indian political immunity to defeat Hindutva virus with progressive and democratic vaccination of our political consciousness based on mutual trust and respect for citizenship rights as enshrined in Indian constitution.
*Bhabani Shankar Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK