By Syed Ali Mujtaba
It is hard to remember that just a few weeks ago; our country was in motion, a moving anarchy that is how many westerners call India. There were protests all over the country over citizenship issue. The Citizen Amendment Act, the National People’s Register and National Citizen’s Register had stirred a hornet’s nest. It triggered communal riot in Delhi where Hindus killed Muslims and vise-versa. Human being divided themselves into religious groupings and gunned for each other’s life.
In the order of the day there was hyper nationalism, safrronization, anti-Pakistan, anti-Kashmir, anti-Muslim rhetoric’s, government made anti-poor policies, crony capitalism and neo-liberalism were promoted.
There was live demo two things simultaneously going on in our country and we witness them with remorse. One was Indian economy going for a free fall from the cliff. This started with demonetization, then the promulgation of tax regime and the general slowdown of the economy. The talk about India going to be five trillion economy, third largest economy in the world and second largest economy in Asia that once bloated the countrymen ego went down the drain. It’s being said that it will take long time get back to the peak from where our economy has fallen.
The second spectacle fanged was unabated and aggressive Hindu nationalism. This hyper nationalism was taking fascist shape. The lock down in Kashmir, killing of the Muslims, detention camps, were all part of the order of the day, as we saw secular fabric being tore apart in the country. The right wing extremism oozed out with the ruling government having renegade to its international commitments. As its rogue character went on open display the global community ignored its anti-democratic characteristics for the sake of billions dollars market that India has to offer them.
All these things were happening in perfect cacophony very smoothly and delinquently, till corona virus stepped in and put spokes to the order of the day. Everyone was left petrified, fearful and helpless by these deadly microscopic particles. It draws a red line that divides the order of the day from then to now.
In the current situation there is a wave of anxiety that prevails all over; death continues to stalk us and those divisive forces that were going gung-ho are calling for truce. Everywhere humanity first is the clarion call.
Those who built a political constituency in the name of religious nationalism and has come to power through stoking hate and were in their lynching mission now are fear their life as death in on prowl taking the form of a virus .
The JSR folks who came out in large number beating the tin and clapping to make synchronized sound made a fool of them as locking indoors and social distancing could alone save them from death.
So what lies ahead in the future is we cannot mimic the past. It looks impossible to imagine a return to the old ways even after the 21 days lock down period is over. Some say that it will take six to nine months for normalcy to return. If we judge the past with the current situation it can be said: ‘we won’t go back to normal, because normal was the problem’.
In the global perspective the lock down gives a vivid account of the past and the present. Venice’s canals have become crystal clear, Italy coasts have Dolphin’s coming nearer. Japan now has Deer roaming free in the streets and same is the case with monkeys in Thailand. China has record breaking pollution cuts.
The earth has already begun showing signs of amazing things that are happening from the absence of human pollution. If the entire human population realizes this as an opportunity to restart society on a greener more environment conscious manner a better future is ensured. All these we are seeing in the span of a couple of days.
When we get past these virus threats, can we rebuild our society one more time in an egalitarian way, can we banish the politics of hate, can we become more environmental conscious, can we banish pollution and give our lungs fresh air. There are endless possibilities that post Corona future offer us to change ourselves. Corona has taught us the lesson is we are human first. It also has taught the lesson that we can’t go back to normal, because normal was the problem. So it is time to break from past and build new India.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com