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India’s true menace: the Hindutva virus

Modi’s Hindu fundamentalist ideology has massively accelerated the Covid-19 death toll, writes BHABANI SHANKAR NAYAK

INDIANS are struggling to find time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19. The crematoriums in the state capitals are overflowing with dead bodies.

People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. Cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and deaths.

These deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Given that door-to-door vaccination led to the complete elimination of polio in 2014, India has the resources and institutional infrastructure today to mobilise against the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Modi government’s lack of political will has led to a disastrous situation. The misguided priorities, unscientific nature, ignorance and arrogance of Hindutva politics have contributed to the havoc created by coronavirus.

The Indian government is grossly mismanaged today by the medieval Hindutva leadership, which has no humanitarian vision. The health and wellbeing of the people are not a priority.

Hindutva politics provided patronage to different religious and political mass gatherings that fuelled the spread of coronavirus, while a shortage of medical infrastructure, hospitals beds, medicines, doctors and nurses contributed immensely to the growing number of deaths.

The centralisation of power under Modi and his ideologically motivated bullying of political opponents and the administrative machinery has led to failures by the existing institutions in responding to the crisis.

In spite of glaring failures, Modi’s government continues with its ego trip and erroneous priorities — labourers are ferried in as “essential workers” to construct the Central Vista project for a new parliament building in the midst of a devastating pandemic.

The BJP budget cuts have left Indian institutions and regional state governments to fail, for which the party blames the state governments and leaderships themselves — paving the path towards more electoral gains.

The BJP and its ally, the right-wing, Hindu nationalist paramilitary group RSS, are drunk on power. Modi looks at the crisis in India in terms of his electoral calculations, blaming people who are working in the field and responding to the pandemic in their limited capacities.

His Hindutva colleagues externalise the pandemic by calling it “a Chinese virus” and blame everyone else without accepting any form of accountability.

Modi’s authoritarian training in the RSS has made him an ideologically rigid individual, devoid of a scientific approach to democratic governance and the delivery of basic welfare services like health.

His Hindutva background makes him obsessed with state power at all costs. He stands with his crony-capitalist friends and the pharmaceutical corporations making business out of sickness.

It is clear that the inflated egos of Modi and his self-serving Hindutva forces are devastating to India and Indians. Arrogance, ignorance and assaults on science and reason are the governing virtues of Hindutva ideology, which celebrates all forms of crisis and shock therapy.

In the past and present, Hindutva ideologues look at crises as an opportune moment to reorganise and reorder the society based on the exploitative social hierarchy of the Brahmanical caste system. These reactionary forces promote and consolidate Indian society based on the “might is right” principles of majoritarianism. The current Covid-19 nightmare is a product of Hindutva ideological praxis at work.

The pandemic can be defeated by universal vaccination, but it is the danger of the Hindutva virus that is looming large for the masses — and it is just as dangerous. Both reorganise society and pave the path for authoritarianism.

In addition, the Hindutva virus promotes unfettered market fundamentalism and social, political and cultural conservatism, which is extremely dangerous for India. As the devastating second wave of coronavirus subsides, India needs to reflect on its consciousness beyond the Brahmanical identity politics and nativist thinking of RSS and BJP.

The wrath of the Hindutva virus will cause more conflicts, deaths and destitutions than the coronavirus if these forces are not defeated ideologically and politically: India needs an organised mass movement to remove them from society for its survival in the present and the future.

Indians must prepare themselves to fight the Hindutva political epidemic. There is no other option but to increase political immunity to defeat the Hindutva virus with a progressive and democratic vaccination of our political consciousness based on mutual trust and respect for citizenship rights as enshrined in the constitution.

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