के सभी प्रकाशन manzoor Athar . दिल्ली , भारत
Note- the piece is not going to go into the scientific side of the matter. It has already been very well and objectively explained by Dr Sumaiya Sheikh.
In the night of march 19th Narendra Modi came on TV. People were again afraid what he is going to ban today but then defying everyone’s fear he invented a new term Janata Curfew which was nothing but renaming of self quarantine also known as self isolation. Renaming things is the core competency of this govt. In a half an hour address to general public Narendra Modi did not utter a single word on the plans of his cabinet over the issue unlike leaders of many other nations.
Modi urged general public to exercise janata curfew on 22nd march 2020 for 14 hours. He asked everyone to come out with plates in their “balcony” and beat them with spoons or clap and make noise in solidarity for those who are fighting corona pandemic. The response started coming within moments even from health workers. One such response was by Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti. He raised issues such as lack of safety equipment and pointed to the data that suggests that doctors and nurses are at the highest risk. Li WenLiang, China’s whistle blower doctor died of corona he was only 34, Iranian Doctor Shirin Rouhani died while treating corona victims.
Many people decoded the public address in different ways. Some praised other were critical of it. The one thing that can move a socially aware person is the name, janata Curfew, itself. Many are just brushing it aside as a mere normalization of negative term others think it is a call for supporters of Modi to impose curfew hence janata (supporters of Modi) imposing curfew on others. Mr Kannan Gopinathan, an Ex- IAS officer, in his tweet has urged Modi to ask for people not to resort to violence if some people come out to fetch essentials. The fear is real since the average supporter of Modi is a desperate supporter and s/he cannot tolerate anything done against the wishes of Modi. The recent anti-Muslim riots confirm this assumption. The active defense and support of rioters and rioting police was provided by general public mostly belonging to middle income class. The defense was not physical presence but financial and moral through social media. The overwhelming response to the call for crowd funding to help “Hindu” victims by Kapil Misra proves this point. Modi’s reference to “balcony” is directed to the middle class of India who prefer to live in multistory apartments and housing societies. Some of such housing societies have started rehearsals and plannings. Maybe Modi will have a big number of videos on social media to brag about but the question of daily wage workers still remains unanswered. Most of the daily wage workers live hand to mouth. Their living spaces are small. Most families live in rooms as small as a bathroom of a 2BHK apartment in Nioda. The daily wage workers who have to work even on Sundays to feed their family cannot afford to not work for a day otherwise it will be an existential crisis for them. Will they cooperate with janata curfew? or will they be made to cooperate with janata curfew?
The curious case of a domestic worker
The poor households also receive some Income from middle class apartments in exchange of domestic help. Most of such domestic workers are women while men fetch some income in exchange of physical labor. A domestic worker Shanti (name changed) said ‘saheb log kaam se nikal diya, bhairas ka liye’ meaning ‘her employers fired her for virus’. On the question whether she will be paid during these days the response was in negative. The state and central governments have asked companies to pay employees during social distancing days and accept work from home. Since the govt of India unlike many nations have not announced any financial help social distancing and working from home are impossible. Even if it did the for these unorganized and unregulated workers it would be impossible to claim.
Most middle class households have someone working abroad in family or among close relatives. Recently during Holi festivals many visited home. Since these domestic helpers have been working in lower as well as upper middle class households some of them must have contracted the corona virus and are spreading it in other middle class homes and in their own localities. This situation is called community transmission and is classified as third stage of an outbreak. Though the govt has not admitted to the possibility of community transmission but the actions of lock down and cancellation of events suggests that govt is aware of it.
The Informal Sector
An estimate suggests India’s informal sector employs 93% of total workforce. Most of these are daily wage workers with no registration or paper work just an oral agreement making them vulnerable to exploitation in such a situation. They cannot claim any thing even if govt enacts a law making it mandatory for employer to pay them during these periods. The employer can choose to fire them orally just like s/he was hired. The lack of information and almost non existence of labor unions thanks to fragmented workplaces only ensures no social security and facilitates exploitation. With many mega cities on partial or complete lock down these people cannot afford the high cost of living in cities with no work hence many are moving back to villages. In railway stations of Mumbai and Pune there was almost a riot situation to gain entry to general compartments almost all travelers were casual workers. If some of the infected board the train they will infect many others during crowded journey and when these infected people reach their underdeveloped villages with little medical facility and persistent malnutrition there will be unimaginable number of deaths.
India’s unimaginably large Stupid sector
The solution to the above problems is simple. An ensured basic income and an interstate travel ban along with community testing. But there is a bigger problem which I like to call the stupid sector of India. It includes Tik-Tok, facebook, twitter etc. They work as a misinformation engines. In an attempt to prove Modi’s Janata Curfew a master stroke many social media handles have tried to convince general public that corona virus cannot survive more than 8 hours on a surface others are trying to prove “scientifically” that sounds of clapping, temple bells and conch will kill the virus. These myths are busted by honorable people like Dr Sumaiya Sheikh. But the people like Dr Sumaiya are not followed by many on the other hand people like Mridul Modhak, a tik-tok star, are followed by 6.5 million people most scarcely educated with non existent sense of inquiry. In the fake news peddling work for BJP many big names like Sonu Nigam, Anupam Kher and Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri with blue ticks (signifies verified handle) are involved. Many twitter handle mostly belonging to extremist right wing ideology such as Madhu Kishwar posted that virus remains stuck for four days in neck suggesting drinking a lot of hot water and doing salt water gargles etc.
These irresponsible support in a desire to gain some political mileage (may be political conspiracy) is going to be detrimental to national health. In fact the blue ticks and popular faces work as a trust bait even for many educated people reducing the possibility for them to inquire before sharing. Those who trust these contents are more likely to disregard actual precautionary measures thereby risking themselves and everyone around them.
Considering the graveness of the situation the fundamental duty i.e. to develop scientific temper, under article 51A must be made justiciable for those with a following of 100 on any social media platform or video streaming platform.
A skeptical eye towards these unbelievably misleading contents raise doubts and remind me of the “sex for call” campaign of BJP to make people call on a number that would register the call as support for CAA. Many called in hope of being greeted by the girl in the ad they saw on a whatsapp forward. Though dirty but when you are only looking for numbers it works well. Similarly it is possible that BJP is using trust associated with big names to make people get out in their balcony. From Tik-tok to Bollywood, from small ones like Mridul Madhok to big ones like Sonu Nigam are saying same things word to word.
If people come out it will serve two purpose one the image of Modi will possibly improve that was tarnished internationally after 370 abrogation and CAA, second it will work as a deterrent for anti-CAA protests which did not break even after anti-Muslim pogrom.
Hindu Mahasabha Organised a Gau Mutra Party (Cow Urine drinking celebration) to ward off corona virus on lines similar to that of tea parties held in India. If you are surprised to see this then don’t a BJP representative who likes to call himself “Dr” Sambit Patra, suggests that the cow dung is more valuable than diamond. Let us hope american women do not believe him otherwise they would demand a dung ring in marriage. May be Patra is too smart and he was trying to sell Indian animal excreta to american couple, may be that way Indian economy can be revived. May be he is just a genius world has always ignored. Another BJP leader from West Bengal Dilip Ghosh downplayed corona threat and says that in India because people pray they have blessings of God and they will not be contracting corona.
While churches and Mosques getting closed for public or atleast restricted entry, many members of Hindu community were promoting this gau Mutra party on whatsapp. We have videos floating online from karnata, some people from swarna Bhumi gaushala (Gold land cow shelter) have used the dung to prepare a gobar bathing tub. They literally bathed in cow dung to save themselves from corona. Still if you do not believe me then watch the following video at your own risk.
Now let us get back to less gruesome events. After this pandemic reached India women were organizing assemblies singing and chanting bhajan style songs. The wordings are “Corona bhag ja Bharat mein tharo kaam na”, meaning “run away corona you have no work here”. The same song later requests corona that we(Indians) do not eat meat and fish you need not to punish us, we are not sinners, go punish those who do wrong. Those who tried to talk with these women say some of them are even graduates and masters degree holder yet they genuinely believe that corona is a punishment for those “filthy” Chinese who ate mice, bats, snakes and crabs, and commit sin by eating beef.
Myth about meat
The most dangerous myth on whatsapp is that corona can spread through chicken, meat and fish. The false pride that Indians associate with vegetarianism specially among women is not only harming industry but also their own health, more than 50% of Indian women suffer from anemia. As a matter of fact beef is a good source of Iron which is a taboo even among Indian men. Those who consume or make a living out of it are often beaten sometimes even to death. A friend of mine shared such false news with some old and irrelevant video, I asked him “why?” he said, “I shared in hope of saving people from sin of eating meat even if it is wrong”. But he, despite being highly educated, does not understand that lack of nutrition reduces immunity which then increases the chances of death after getting infected. Women generally have an advantage over men when it comes to immunity but lack of nutrition in India reverses that advantage. Which means women are more likely to survive corona infection than men anywhere else but India. Due to lack of nutrition high death rate age group may also get widened. Elsewhere it is 65 and above where as in India it may be 45 and above.
The Smriti Irani Arguments
In Global Hunger Index (GHI) India ranked 102 out of 117 even below pakistan (94th) and Bangadesh (88th) in 2019 but in 2020 we achieved new height by securing 103rd position. After this achievement our once upon a time Education Minister Mrs Smriti Irani says that the methodology followed to calculate GHI is flawed. Believe me she is qualified enough to call a certificate course from Yale University a degree. This is an example of burying your head in the sand. GHI is a good indicator of Nutritional status of a population.
All the above incidents keeping in mind that Indian constitution is probably the only constitution that enjoins developing scientific temper as a fundamental duty upon it’s citizens under article 51A is ironic. Considering the prevalence of myths and it’s potential harm due to that, ‘developing scientific temper’ should be the only fundamental duty and it should also be a legal responsibility of parliamentarians.
The Indian Govt
The Indian govt machinery is not far behind in spreading misinformation and myths. There is a whole ministry dedicated to other forms of medicine called Ministry of AYUSH. AYUSH is an acronym of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddhi and Homeopathy. While it is surprising for many that India still considers homeopathy as a branch of medicine but not so surprising considering the fact that the ministry suggested a homeopathic medicine to cure corona, which after many twitter rants and trolling was taken down and ministry claimed it only suggested the medicine because it strengthens immune system. There is no empirical evidence to support this claim as well.
The Data hiding game
Indian Medical Association said that data of confirmed cases and deaths should not be released as it is causing people to panic. This statement is in perfect resonance of the current regime’s approach on data i.e. hide it, just like they did with employment data and farmer suicide data. I can’t comprehend the logic yes the country might experience a reduction in economic activity which is already at all time low but still a panic that saves life is better than a silent yet painful death of thousands.
The awkward act of ministers
A funny twist came when Minister of state for Social Justice and Empowerment under modi govt, Mr Ramdas Athawle from Maharashtra gathered with few people on a street and protested against Corona by chanting slogans of “Karona Go, Go Karuna”. Looks like corona didn’t like his protest and the next day we heard news of five more infected in Maharashtra.
But before that we need to keep in mind that COVID-19 spreads at an unprecedented rate. Our PM in today’s video conference to SAARC nations said do not go for knee jerk reaction and said we started screening airports since mid January. The fact is that the screening started just two weeks from now and we do not have enough time to develop infrastructure and then take action we literally need knee jerk reaction from government. Or may be this is his regime’s approach to reduce population since they had too much of problem with Muslim ‘Population’ in India. The PM’s claims are also wrong on the fact that for Holi celebrations many non resident Indians came back to India they played Holi which involves fluid exchange and a lot of touching exponentially Increasing the speed of spread. We were expecting an out break after Holi considering the casual way in which Indian govt was handling the situation at hand and this is exactly what happened.
When whole India and right wing was making jokes out of Allah and Quran on social media for Saudi Arabia stopping Umra Activity. The KSA was actually working on a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari Book 7, Vol 71, 624; Narrated Saud the Prophet said, “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.” A person who dies of plague is shaheed.
Since plague was an incurable disease back then the prescribed action is applicable to all incurable disease outbreak. A person who dies of such disease while being stranded in the infected place has saved humanity and so he is a shaheed. Since Corona has become a global pandemic freezing foreign airports should have been the first thing done by India and every other nation lacking in infrastructure.
The news channels
Wow they are not yet done with Muslims and the opposition. On 12th march 2020 Sudhir Chaudhri in his DNA published a chart explaining varieties of Jihads available in the menu it had all the way from education Jihad to economic Jihad to love Jihad. Many were shocked since few days before information and broadcasting (I&B)ministry put a ban on two Malayalam news channels for reporting active participation of “RSS and Delhi Police” in Anti-Muslim pogrom that happened in Delhi. But then we should keep in mind that this Sudhir Chaudhary is serving a member of parliament from BJP, Subhash Chandra, who is the chairman of Essel group that owns zee news. For Muslims ZeeNews have gone crazy but for many Hindus this was an expose and those who believed him are potential disasters waiting to happen. This was an open and naked incitement of hatred against Muslims.
Another Modi serving media TimesNow with it’s star anchor Navika Kumar lashed out on opposition. She bravely questioned opposition on wether they want to defeat modi or corona. How can you expect the opposition to act against corona? Infact Rahul Gandhi drew everyone’s attention towards the graveness of situation which the government was deliberately ignoring.
Apart from TV and WhatsApp we have some twitter accounts that actively indulge in spreading false news.
Many right wing social media activists, with core competency in abusing Muslims, thought kerala is cursed as it did not elect modi. Turns out kerala has so many cases because it is the only state actively testing and reporting while other states firmly believe that cow dung and urin will cure corona. In Uttar Pradesh the chief Minister not only did nothing but also declared that flu is not a disease. One of such handles with a twitter tick is Vivek Agnihotri. He normally spreads anti-Muslim content but this time he has prescribed a home remedy for corona and blamed congress for corona. People like Vivek Agnihotri are dangerous for society in such a situation. Their home remedy is going to give people false assurance and thus making them prone to disregard precautionary measure thereby getting them infected. Every person who liked his tweet is a potentially at threat.
What do you need to do?
You simply need to delete whatsapp and stop watching TV read authentic news papers/portals such as the_Hindu and the_wire, reduction in mobility should be one of the first priorities, avoid public places religiously specially Hospitals, eat nutritious food- fruit, meat and fish are good to add in your meal. You may hear some pseudo scientists justifying gau-mutra party and gobar-bath by saying your immune system will become robust if you expose yourself to cow dung and urine. Don’t believe them and maintain good hygiene (animal excreta is not good for health what so ever) bad hygiene will make your immune system exhausted and your body will become even worse at fighting corona infection. It is also a good time to quit smoking and drinking as both have an adverse impact on your immune system which should be the strongest at this time. Finally isolate yourself if you feel you have contracted the virus and contact central helpline +91–11–23978046 or email at [email protected].
As of today the number of confirmed cases has reached 109 increasing every hour. Most in Maharashtra (31) followed by Kerala (22). With two deaths of elderly people.
Let us first look at the following twitter thread was posted by Swati Goel Sharma who claims to be a swaraj newspaper reporter and former times of India reporter.
Let us understand what is force multiplier. According to military factory website of US department of Defense ‘a capability that when added to and when employed by the combat force significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment’. The above definition is a military definition and there is also a general definition ‘increase in set of tools and skills of a person that enhances her capability’. Though the term has been used conventionally in context of combat forces. The key word here is a capability which can be a tool or a skill. For example a hammer is a force multiplier and karate training is also a force multiplier, both of these enhances a person’s capability while former is a tool and later is a skill.
In general terms an MBA degree or a technical training is also a force multiplier.
The term force multiplier has been used in India in past. The union of India and Chhattisgarh government in case Nandini Sundar & Ors vs State Of Chattisgarh a 2011 civil suit used the term in context of special police officers. The Chahhtisgarh Govt with the agreement of union of India formed Salwa Judum, an armed militia of local tribes, to combat Maoist/Naxalite activity. These persons were termed as special police officers. A two judge bench of supreme court decided that it is severe violation of fundamental rights of those employed as ‘special police officers (SPO)’, ensured by article 14 and 21. Such an employment exposes the so called SPOs to grave danger of life. The term force multiplier appears four times in the judgement in para 30, 33 and twice in 74.
The supreme court in the judgement also raises concern over it’s adverse effect on society, current and prospective. Considering the current developments in Indian judiciary, such as clear judgments of lower courts getting an stay order by supreme court if the former court decided against the party ruling in center. In future it is possible for us to see this judgement getting overturned by a bigger 5 judge or 7 judge bench. We are seeing people viewing supreme court as a defender the government and not as the upholder of the constitution.
If we take the tweet of this swaraj news reporter as something to be credible there are several grave concerns that could be raised. The tweet first of all suggests that police has gone against the 2011 judgement of supreme court and second the name riot is the wrong word for this, crackdown or pogrom would explain the situation better. The tweet despite suggesting the above also explains many things from past incidents such as why many persons with no uniform or name badge just police protection kit and a baton were seen during Jamia and UP crackdowns, why the attackers in JNU were escorted by police and left lose, why komal sharma (one of the JNU attackers) is still not arrested, why Kapil Gujjar got such an easy bail despite possessing illegal weapon and using it to threaten people with life, why police was standing idle when Rambhakt Gopal was pointing and later fired a gun at Jamia students, why police has been seen helping Hindu rioters in burning, killing and destroying Muslims and their property, why some witnesses report police directing rioters to Muslim homes, and why police have arrested mainly Muslims post Delhi riots despite it was clear that Hindus were the rioters? The answer to these questions are pretty simple according to this tweet, they all were force multipliers not rioters. The objective of the mission was to break down the protests and radicalized Hindus served as a tool to enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.
If we go a bit into past we will see we will see cases of police arresting people for alleged cow smuggling who were already beaten up severely by cow vigilante some times these people died while taking the beatings. This violates article 14 and article 21. In several media reports national and international we have seen these cow vigilante taking honor in this crime on video and police accepting their help. It is obviously a violation of article 14 and 21 but such acts also suggests almost nonexistent sense of constitutionality in the law enforcement agency. Let alone constitutionality even sense of justice is absent. Another similar case as published by Scroll suggests that despite 2011 judgement the police in Uttar pradesh is recruiting Police Mitras translated to Police friends. These friends have similar status as that of SPOs. They are recruited from local communities. They were also used during Anti-CAA protests. It becomes even worse when the recruitment is done from a Hindu extremist organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini. This is called arming the majority against minority.
Some readers may think this is a good news for Hindus and they are safe, then think again. There is always a collateral damage no matter who is the aggressor. If the tweet is true then the police have exposed Hindus to danger of life as every one who is being attacked have a natural right to defend himself in that she may attempt to kill the attacker if threatened by life and property this explains many Hindu deaths. The more dangerous implication is that it instills distrust, fear and anger in members of minority community which can have far worse implications if a country is populated by 20% citizens belonging to religious minority community the largest among them is Muslims constituting 17%. If today the police is using this force multiplier against religious minority tomorrow it may use the same against other minorities which may be caste, ethnic, linguistic or cultural minority.
As swaraj has been representing the point of view of current regime and is seldom critical of government. This tweet is being taken by many as a fact and a reason behind such police inaction.
In the interview with the_wire the former commissioner of Delhi Police Mr Ajay Raj Sharma said the content that creates distrust towards police should be taken down from internet and social media as he says “it may create chaos” and he is true as people stop believing in the law enforcement system they would take law in their own hand. He also suggests that before doing this we must create trust worthy police which is only possible “if the police is insulated from politics”.
To many it sounds a bit too ideal as politics in India often try to command judiciary let alone police and in that to many people it seems fairly successful.