Deaths Are Becoming Data While Narendra Modi Continues To Dismantle India

India is gasping for oxygen, but the power-hungry narcissist is probably more worried about his monuments, the US$2.8 billion Central Vista project, than the burning pyres in the crematorium.

Heath specialist sitting in an ambulance outside a crematorium. Photo credit: The New York Times

I am anguished to see the state of India while it chokes from the deadly second wave of COVID-19. When you log-on to any of your socials, all you see is thousands of people in need of oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and necessary medications. People aren’t getting space at the crematoriums to fulfil the final rituals for the deceased. Ill-planned lockdowns in various states are also creating havoc in businesses, daily-wage industry, etc. I see misery and hopelessness in the nation which proclaimed early victory over the virus as early as January 2021. Borders of other countries are being closed for us. Patients are dying on the streets waiting for proper medical facilities. India is gasping for oxygen. But the power-hungry narcissist, Narendra Modi, is probably more worried about his monuments than the burning pyres in the crematorium. He’s mocking thousands of deaths by still continuing with US$2.8 billion Central Vista project while also marking it as essential work.

By conducting polarising election campaigns to win the state of Bengal, Modi oversaw the tsunami that is presently engulfing the same citizens he was asking votes from. The hypocrisy became so evident that he attracted thousands of people in his rallies in the day (Home Minister Amit Shah too was included; without wearing a mask), and then he used to call a meeting in the night to review the “Covid situation”. Perhaps he never cared about the citizens. It has always been about his image; mostly on camera. As many statistics suggest that every second person who is getting tested in Bengal for the virus is coming out positive, a very worrying trend. Whereas, many BJP propaganda channels are running the news about how election campaigns in West Bengal have nothing to do with the recent COVID surge in India. They are speaking on behalf of the government and as an arm of the establishment. The central government even allowed The Kumbh Mela and announced heavy cash prizes for the people who make the best video film while capturing the glory of a state-sponsored mass gathering amidst a pandemic, while everyone else is told to stay at home.

Mass cremations in Delhi amidst the heavy surge of COVID-19. Photo credit: The New York Times

It is almost ironic how a party which came into power with their Hindu nationalist agendas, are now making an utter joke out of one of the most poignant and relevant Hindu ritual of death and cremation. The CM of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, recently put out his quote in the media saying that we shouldn't worry much about the dead because they cannot come back. BJP’s indifference towards the people of this country is not even a hidden fact or a subject of surprise anymore. They are coming out in open, with their poisonous fangs and incompetent governance. As much as data is important for the medical scientists to create vaccines and predict the course of the pandemic, deaths cannot be boiled down to just mere data. Even more so when the deaths are in straight proportion to the medical failure. Many casualties could have been avoided if the central government didn't deny science or if it were less arrogant towards the biomedical emergency. Many sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, friends and foes would have been alive and healthy today if the majority of this country didn't vote for the toxic manifesto of building temples, eradication of minorities from the country and false promises of better days.

Patient carried on a stretcher outside the construction site of Central Vista. Photo credit: Smishdesigns

Deaths are becoming data while Narendra Modi continues to dismantle India. Figuratively and literally, he aims to dismantle the idea of India by sponsoring to redevelop a 3.2 km stretch called the Central Vista which was built by the British in the 1930’s. The project includes tearing down the government buildings and iconic locations to make a new parliament. All this is a priority while the health system has collapsed. All this is considered as essential work when around the country almost all construction work has stopped. If the same billions were spent in the procurement of oxygen facilities and ICU beds, we would probably see improvement in dealing with the crisis. Writers, journalists, intellectuals, opposition, all have mounted criticism towards this step, but the arrogance is unmoved. Arrogance is a thick wall between utopian gracefulness and destructive governance. Modi, sadly always ends up choosing the later.

According to experts, the current COVID-19 scenario in India is unprecedented. Some world media reporters are writing headlines like — People are dying like flies in India — and correctly so. But even if we look at the figures, are they true? Or is it just the tip of the iceberg.

Ashitha Nagesh writes for the BBC London “It’s widely agreed among experts that both cases and deaths are being under-reported in India right now — and one expert tells me that she thinks the real figures could be as high as 10 times the official numbers in some areas.”

Proposed design of the US$2.8 billion Central Vista. Photo credit: DNA

We are not just witnessing the dismantling of iconic buildings but also the dismantling of moral conscience in Modi’s priorities. The tangible consequences of this decision mirrors the intangible motives of the NDA — erasing the history. There's absolutely no justification to this demolition. I’m sure that even the logistics haven't been pre-planned. The cost of relocating offices and the economic burden of it is just unfathomable. Currently, there's a medical void to be filled. Modi’s shyness towards his responsibilities will cost (in future) and is still costly to the nation in terms of implementation of tasks, economic destruction and more lives lost which will eventually turn into mere numbers for us to keep a count, every morning when we read the newspapers.

Writer, Columnist & Filmmaker.

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