India is on Disaster Mode On. But where is Modi?
India is currently facing a death toll that has no precedent. The second wave that came to hit the country, seriously, tests the endurance of a population with no stamina left!
India reported more than 400,000 coronavirus cases in only one day, and is already counting more than 246,000 deaths, since the start of the pandemic of Covid-19 took over. Dead bodies appear on Ganges river, after they have been cremated, hospitals report a major shortage on oxygen cylinders and beds. Except for the poor and the -under crisis- Indian middle class, the rich Indians cannot also escape these shortages, a factor indicating the unmitigated disaster that hit the country.
But where is popular Narendra Modi? If he is still popular...
Throughtout most of the pandemic, he never appeared in public, or showed to be available for giving answers to people. Indians have nothing more than questions right now. And as long as Modi presented himself as a leader who put his mark and his name on everything, who gathered all powers for himself, it is inevitable for him, to take total responsibility for this whole disaster. You can never have it all. If you decide to become the reason behind every effort or success of the country you lead, you also have to be the reason for the country's calamities.
Despite the fact that India, is one of the biggest vaccine producers, as long as the pandemic started, the vaccine policy was not handled well. A very generous exporting policy of vaccines, ended up to create vaccine shortages that cannot be covered by any means at the moment. This resulted in a current hold of all AstraZeneca exports, so that the needs of domestic demand can be faced.
Narendra Modi, seemed to have gone through many difficult times at the past, not only when the pandemic started to hit India, and he had to proceed to a total lockdown which caused a serious financial crisis, but also before this, when the banking crisis appeared. But despite all the bad, he remained in people's minds as a resilient and trustworthy leader, who protected Indians. And this is the narrative, on which he based all his popularity, and his appeal on Indians since he started to lead the country.
And this is changing now...
Modi, seems to have distanciated himself from this narrative of competency and reliability. The Indian population seems to feel left in despair, and the current mode on which the country is on, is the disaster mode! There is no leader anywhere to give answers or to console people from pain, even by appearing to have any sort of plan for this. Indians are left alone, while an unprecedented border crisis with its neighbouring Bangladesh takes place, and this second wave pandemic deathtoll, seems to be a "great opportunity" for other issues to pile up and make the situation even more exploding.
I have recently seen "The White Tiger" on Netflix. This film is produced by Ramin Bahrani and a leading cinema star of India, Priyanka Chopra, is part of the film's casting. The story of the film is based on real facts, and this is what makes it appealing and interesting. Ofcourse, in India real facts offer so lavishly as stories for films' scenarios, that there is no reason to create any fictional narratives. Adarsh Gourav, the protagonist, is a taxi driver who tries to escape from poverty and along his journey, he comes face to face with his destiny, poverty. There is no other country maybe, that can descibe better discrimination, as a form of criminal behaviour, with which people learn to grow up and take for granted silently, as something that is natural. I believe this is the most schocking part of the film, together with the look of the actor Adarsh Gourav, when he looks at his "master" at a moment when he realises he cannot escape his caste and he accepts to take responsibility for a crime he never did, only because he works for a rich man who would never be in jail for a crime that happened by accident.! I mention this movie, not only as a very enlightening one, but also because in India what happens nowadays with the second wave of the pandemic, shows clearly, that the disaster hits even the rich ones. And this downfall of the country, reveals a significant turn in the country's record, the consequences of which, remain to be seen...
written by Themis Panagiotopoulou, PhD in Political Science