Razzmatazz in Days of Mahamari

The political masters love razzle-dazzle, and more so if it comes in uniformed pride!

Photo : kartavyasadhana.in

Confusion hi confusion hai solution kuchch pata nahi
Solution jo mile to saala question kya tha pata nahi...

That is India, yesterday, today, and perhaps tomorrow. Every day throws up new confusion that will shame Jerry Lewis character. But now it discloses the ruin of the governance, administratively, financially and morally. Otherwise, we would not have witnessed the outrageous public row over who would pay for the return journey of the migrant workers to their home state. Having ravaged the economy for a prolonged stretch, with the disastrous demonetization and ill-planned GST operation, the government finds its resources vulnerable, with revenues dwindling and expenses mounting. Instead of coming clean on the factual conditions, the government is busy finding scapegoats for failures. 

It was the most disquieting scene of unending travails of the lakhs of migrants, now struggling to catch the ‘Shramik Special’ trains to reach their home villages in distant lands. The jobless, homeless and penniless migrants, under the forced quarantine for weeks in hastily erected dirty camps where many of them had to beg and fight for a morsel of bread and water every day, were now asked by the Home Ministry to scrape out fares as the Railway Ministry explained, it does not want to encourage the bad habit of a free ride! 

A shameless wrangle broke out on who would pay for their fare, with the Railways and the Health Ministry contradicting each other, the later promising eighty-five percent subsidy on the fare and former asking the state government “to collect the fare and deposit the full amount” with the Railways. 

As the babus played out the haggle, the impoverished men longing to reach their families had to pay for their way, thanking the rail man for not demanding the tip. Many more who could not get the railway bookings have resumed the trek again: lakhs of men, women, and small children trudging under the scorching summer sun, tired and famished, with only hope in heart of reaching their homes somehow before the rains intervene. 

Surely, the government could have utilized the lockdown days to work out logistic plans before making an announcement. And if finally, the cost was to be extorted from the pockets of poor, why did the Home Ministry detain them in the first place, making everybody miserable? But such questions are swept unanswered in deluge of misinformation.

In such situations, the armed forces with their disciplined hierarchy could have offered the help of their large fleet of vehicles that includes thousands of buses and trucks and transport ships, or even the transport planes. That would have certainly helped to boost the morals of the nation. But they had other plans of their own Operation COVID.

On Sunday, the nation was presented, after bouts of clapping and thali banging and lightening of diyas, one more spectacle, this time lead by the Chief of Defence Staff instead of the PM, of flag marches, lightening of the ships and showers of flowers from planes to salute the Corona Warriors, doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc busy in fighting the pandemic “for the nation”. They could have included the media men in the honours for trumpeting to the brass.

The non-stop coverage on TV channels was laced with war terminology, with retired expert officers explaining the battle capabilities of various Air Force planes, that were shown showering flowers at that moment but may shower bombs and missiles on a camouflaged enemy any time if you wish- nicely juxtaposing the humanitarian mission with the battle cry. The TV commentators struggled to work up celluloid frenzy but obviously could not. Why this histrionic, viewers may wonder. Shooo… that is not uttered. We are at a war!

The show was rightly criticized by many decorated veterans, including a former navy chief and generals, who termed it a “ridiculous circus”. True, the medicos in frontline services working under constant risk of catching the deadly illness themselves are in dire need of a moral boost, but that could effectively come in the form of adequate supplies of PPE and Ventilators as well as more hands to manage the hospitals, and certainly not with showers of stale petals. Aaaha! But the political masters love razzle-dazzle, and more so if it comes in uniformed pride!

We should be worried, deeply worried, on the efficacy of unlocking at this moment. The government has made a huge bet in forcing unlocking on the rattled citizenry. As the delay in testing at first proved injurious, hasty unlocking may land another blow to the health of the nation. 

- Subhashchandra Wagholikar
(The author is a journalist stationed at Aurangabad. He can be reached at

Tags: Subhashchandra Wagholikar COVID19 Corona Modi Governement Events Thali Diya Shramik Special Trains Load More Tags

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