This article by Archbp. Thomas Menamparampil is published specially because of its objective, balanced news analysis with utmost human concern of the current catastrophe India is facing under the fierce onslaught of Covid 19 killing precious human lives daily by thousands.
He is not indulging in any blame game either of the central or state governments, but pointing out concrete areas and instances where all should act together as one family to put a stop to the national disaster consuming the country like a wild fire and killing thousands of innocent helpless lives daily!
Paying for HUBRIS? What is it?
Hubris has a price. That is what we are paying for, says the Archbishop. What is Hubris? It is the characteristic of excessive confidence or arrogance, which leads a person to believe that they may do no wrong. The overwhelming pride caused by hubris is often considered a flaw in character. Here we see none of are totally free from hubris.
Central issues facing nation currently are not Bhumi pujans, temple-building, and Central Vista. These luxury items on which Modi is concentrating will only help divert public attention necessities. So is the overemphasis given to ‘cow protection’(Cow science.) What is more precious, human lives or of our cattle?
Other top Issues!
Why is a Covid spike of four lakh in a single day now and hothing is said or done about it while erratic election campaigns and the Hindutva-promoted Kumbh mela which have proved to be super-spreader events encouraged, and what is worse,there was a deafening uproar last year against Tablighi Jamaat religious gathering?
During electon time one per force busy counting votes than lives lost. But how can Modi counter Mamata’s sharp wit that that the present disaster is not man-made but Modi-made.
Please read the Archbisop’s factual observations and react constructively to help the leaders of INDIA to take right decisions or course correction if and where needed. james kottoor(in Chicago) editor ccv
Archbp Thomas Menamparampil – 03 May 2021
When disasters take us by surprise, it is not the right time to find fault with one another. But if in the meantime those in command of the situation have gone blind and deaf, we are compelled to raise our voice lest we be destroyed all together.
Narendra Modi, no doubt, has many talents. But there are limits. If amid national tragedies he is lost in self-importance, the machinery under him collapses. Hubris has a price. That is what we are paying for. A word of apology has confidence-building power. That is still missing. Complacency kills. It is no use diverting the emotional attention of the masses from real issues with plates and pans, Bhumi pujans, temple-building, and Central Vista. There is a limit to irrational solutions to problems.
Cow-science has rescued neither Amit Shah nor Yogi in their moment of health crisis. The superiority of Indian science in Puranic times must be made to bear fruit today, not in idle boasts but actual healing. Why are the descendants of those great ancient Indians lost in self-idolatry, not in adequate self-care?
If not Modi, his government will have to take responsibility for the surging spike of four lakh of Covid-19 cases in a single day, double the height it had reached earlier. He himself will have to give account for his erratic election campaigns and the Hindutva-promoted Kumbh mela which have proved to be super-spreader events. His call for a symbolic Kumbh mela came far too late, much after lakhs of pilgrims were affected and millions were endangered. Why was there such an uproar against Tablighi Jamaat last year, while this Year’s Kumbh Mela stands above criticism like a saving event? Why this unfair contrast?
During elections, votes were more important for political leaders than human lives. But one thing: Modiji has kept his promise, that he would lead India to Number One position in the world… unfortunately in the most painful and humiliating experience of the century. He wanted to make India the pharmacy of the world; today all the pharmacies of the world are rushing to offer help to India, including those in China and Pakistan.
It is difficult to find fault with Mamata who swears that the present disaster is not man-made but Modi-made. At the unconscious level everyone agrees; but prudence counsels silence, lest one be subjected to sedition charges! Remember what happened to Fr. Stan Swamy, who merely spoke for the poor. This is exactly what happens under one-man rule. One-man rule led Germany to destruction and Russia to decline. As for China, we need only to wait until Xi’s tight grip weakens.
One Blunder after Another!
When China imposed a One-Child policy on the nation, everyone hailed it as the most progressive decision. One man’s decision was final. Like in India today under Modiji, no one in China dared to criticize or question. But now every forward-looking Chinese citizen lives in dread of the destiny of their nation when the consequence the One-Child policy will catch up with them in a decade or two: aging parents, and pampered children to support them. Efforts towards reverting the policy are not working. Xi’s plans are great. But on whose shoulders is he going to place them? Fast softening generations, who, psychologists tell us, will be less and less energetic, venturesome and creative.
The dramatics and rhetoric of Mann ki Baat cannot replace sober thinking and well-informed planning. Oxygen export had doubled last year, today we suffer the consequence. We have lost our Atmanirbhar even in Oxygen production. In fact, Indian democracy itself is running short of Oxygen and gasping for breath. That is where the BJP has led us. Arundhati Roy says, one must bring more of brains than boasts to pressing problems. All Indians could have been given vaccine before marketing it abroad. Hiding humiliating facts never helps in a healthy society.
Today, more effort is being put into controlling news than controlling the Covid. The failures of the governments in Gujarat, UP, and Karnataka, all BJP-ruled states, were never exposed; the whole world knows about the number of neglected patients in hospitals, dead bodies piling up near funeral pyres, and the incompetence of government machinery at every level.
Yes, a One-Man rule leads the nation from one blunder to another, one humiliation to another, one tragedy to another: One-Man line of argument, one-man decision, one-man show… moods, fads, tastes, crazes, prejudices, reactions, trivialities.
Surrounded by flattering supporters, a One-man ruler moves from one misjudgement to another. His decisions are arbitrary and overconfident, never seeking others’ views as though he knows everything. Trump claimed to be super-intelligent. Hitler acted as though he was. Soon enough, his supporters follow the same style. Arrogant behaviour of political bosses has become part of our culture. They ignore international evaluations of India’s democracy, quality of our secularism, and level of our medical preparedness. Meanwhile, they keep amassing money for the Ayodhya temple from the poor.
Yogiji used to rage against criticisms of his irrational policies, especially his harshness upon Muslims and Dalits. He would call them “foreign conspiracies.” Even in the present crisis, he threatens to arrest those who will not cooperate with his Oxygen-strategies under “Gangster Act” and “National Security Act”! When power can misuse laws in this way, Doomsday has come.
Electorate Least Worried
Some political observers have squarely put the present failure to our collective responsibility. We ourselves have invited the trouble, they feel. We have been walking blind-folded for quite a while, yielding submissively to a self-legitimating political order. What has shocked them is that the electorate in many places seem least bothered about the one-sided policies of the Ruling Regime.
Average voters are happy enough with the freebies they get, the middle class with the new openings promised, the top elite with economic domination round the corner, and the Sangh Parivar with the Hindutva agenda well advanced. They are least concerned about developing a consistent and responsible approach to the problems and possibilities of the national economy or healthy relationships with neighbouring countries. And India has set the wrong model for South Asia. Indian ultranationalism has kindled ultranationalism in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, and even Nepal. Lost in self-importance, we have alienated every neighbour around.
Ramachandra Guha uses the strongest words to describe the closing of the Indian mind. He says, as BJP and RSS have grown in power, “The Hindu mind has shrunk in its capacity for free thought…Union Ministers and Chief Ministers exalt superstition over science… (and what shocks the world is this) thuggish attack on journalists, artists, writers and film-makers”. Over 96% of the sedition cases in India since 2014 were for criticizing the government. Even Pakistan and Bangladesh fought the Covid better. India spends an abominably low 1.5% of the GDP on health. Even a part of that is spent on unscientific pursuits. A professor at AIIMS Rishikesh is funded to study the effect of Gayatri Mantra and Pranayama on Covid. The result is that all expert predictions about Covid growth in India have been surpassed, moving further towards a multi-million growth.
Value Systems Vanish
All intellectuals who used to be concerned about the future of the nation and our society are silenced, marginalized or eliminated. Now there remain, among the voters, only interest groups that are ready to lend their support to the highest bidder. They are least worried about the destiny of the nation. Many of the middle class are transferring their assets abroad, to take flight at the earliest opportunity. According to an NDTV count, some 23,000 money-makers moved out of India since 2014, taking their fortunes with then. Such men constituted the Modi-manpower. They merely sought to plunder India as they kept looking for better pastures. That is the level of their nationalism.
There is also a “lumpen” element in society. They follow closely what they have learnt from their leaders. They are able to shout for one party and vote for another. Those whom they elect also are able to do the same: they can win the elections supported by one party and move onto the other…and keep a straight face. But, of course, people see through. That is what makes Arup Kumar Datta accuse politicians of taking the Hypocrisy Oath, like doctors taking the Hippocratic Oath. Jyotiraditya Scindia remains a hero on both sides of the fence. In today’s India, where the ‘mind’ does not move events and processes, ‘money’ does. The Election Commission seized Rs. 1000 crores worth of things during the recent elections, including liquor and drugs. That is the ‘Bharat Mahan’ that RSS-BJP want to build, despite their claim to be promoting Indian values: a culture constructed on corruption and a religiosity charged with hatred!
But most alarmingly, during the election, there was no Covid caution at all. Sitaram Yechury commented that when millions were ailing, the Prime Minister was found campaigning. Modiji had already addressed 23 rallies. But going to the truth of the matter, he was mostly busy with trivialities: Mamata-provoking, Gandhi family-humiliating, Indian value systems-demeaning, freebies fouling the atmosphere all through. Meantime, Amit Shah was at a road-show in Tamil Nadu with some film actresses, after having campaigned in Bengal hurting Bangladesh sentiments.
The saving dimension of the situation is that no one takes the Grand Show seriously. The hollowness of religiosity, national loyalty, cultural pride, ethical authenticity reveals itself with every election, every announcement, every posture, every display of devotion. All that counts is: My pocket and Me. The ruling philosophy is: “Bribe voters and thrive for 5 years”. Even those who swear by the Party give the least weight to the promises that their leaders make or to the manifestoes. They are happy enough, if their own interests are served.
But the tragedy is, as Rahul says, wherever the BJP goes, the RSS goes, hatred goes, and division remains behind. Amit Shah seems to be carrying anti-Muslim genes in his very makeup. Coming to Bengal on an election drive, his main pledge was that he would not allow even a bird from Bangladesh to enter India! He had called Muslim immigrants “termites”. This hatred has gone too deep into Hindutva DNA. The new Visva Bharati Vice-Chancellor began his career at Shantiniketan calling teachers who did not cooperate with him Mir Jafars and Tuglaqs! Why not call them Jagat Seths and Jaichands who too betrayed the nation?
Adityanath Yogi addressed some 20 rallies. He came to Bengal thundering against love jihad and cow-slaughter, and promising anti-Romeo squads. No one was surprised that he generally addressed empty chairs. A monk-turned-politician does not easily win deference. Moreover, he has lost all credibility. His record in office shows that crimes against women have only gone up in UP, vigilantism and social disorders are ever on the increase. In Assam Yogiji promised goshalas in every district. Referring to the 15th century Hindu reformer, Sankardeva, Yogi rejoiced that he had struggled against illegal migrants… a gross anachronism! In fact, Sankardeva opposed everything that Yogi stands for: moorthi puja, caste hierarchy, and ritual worship. Modi made a similar blunder making of Lachit Borphukan, the 17th century Ahom General, a model for Atmanirbhar. Lachit was, in fact, fighting against Delhi imperialism.
But the most interesting thing is that in secular India a secular leader feels the need of presenting his “Hindu” credentials to be accepted as a citizen before he/she starts campaigning. Rahul and Priyanka visited Kamakhya temple before addressing the electorate. It does not differ from Kejriwal making a display of his devotion to Hanuman, and Mamata and Tharoor taking pains to affirm their genuine Hindu identity. As though, those who fail to do so, remain un-Indian!
“Be Conscience-Bearers of Nation”
Modiji quoted “Tirukkural” in Tamil Nadu, to display his respect for Tamil wisdom. In response, P. Chidambaram, throws back another passage from the Tirukkural: “The king without the guard of men who will rebuke him, will perish though there is none to destroy him.” Today, a national rebuke is due. The One-Man ruler needs it. Time has come to hold his entire system accountable: Modi-RSS-BJP-Sangh Parivar conglomerate. Chidambaram says Modi is only a myth, a creation of the extreme religious Right Wing…and business barons. As Trumpism awakened America’s democratic spirit, Moditva immoderation stimulates our Constitutional genes. Take him on straight and the myth vanishes.
The newly sworn-in Chief Justice of India, Justice N. V. Ramana, speaking to a group of young lawyers, asked them to be the “Conscience-Bearers of the nation,” and to educate the poor in their rights. Earlier, he had intervened, rejecting Government restrictions in Kashmir. He has several correctives for the country. Fair elections are under threat, he had said, we need less of commotion and more of ideas and policies. He took his oath in the name of God. He used English, keeping a distance from all language fanaticism. Possibly these are the beginnings of new possibilities.
Yes, we shall emerge from the Covid threat, indeed; but shall we free ourselves from this One-Man Rule lest worse things happen? Be Conscience-Bearers!