Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Stick No Posters

Let me be the first to call it - This is a modern tragedy of biblical proportions.

No, we aren't talking about the Coronavirus. I feel we are all talking about the virus a little too much while being distracted about the real pandemic in our lives - Corporate greed and Political apathy.

A year ago, as governments scrambled to contain the virus and contain us without our homes or in the case of India, throw millions of migrants out of their urban homes, we didn't flinch. 

If you haven't realized it, this is a Global War. Countries around the world have lost lakhs of citizens. If this were an armed conflict, people would have been outraged. We would have been on the streets campaigning and baying for the blood of our governments for their apathy. We would not have rested until the system changed. 

If this was a Hollywood movie, the American protagonist would have rolled out the big guns and then some to bring democracy and world peace. If this was a Bollywood movie, Salman Khan would have beaten the virus so badly the virus will need a vaccine. And he would have done all this while prancing around an actress 40 years younger. 

But what did we end up doing? 

We made tik-tok challenges and memes. 

We started having sports events with no spectators. 

We started making masks fashion statements.

And the enterprising amongst us made a yacht full of money. A few made their billions staking their millions on the coronavirus. As pharma, cryptocurrency, and IT stocks continue to make people rich, there is very little doubt there is money to be made out of misery, as long as you play your cards right.

When the dust began to settle down, our politicians did what mattered to them - Consolidate power.

A year ago, our PM shut down the country in the only way he knew - Primetime television with just 4 hours' notice. What ensued was a crisis the PM is still in denial about. 

Today, when we are losing 10000s of people a day, you'd think we've learned our lesson.

The short answer is - No.

The long answer is - We are so effing tired of the way our politicians have been governing us for the last many years. To be fair, it's been a very long time since any of our politicians had to deal with such shit. Barring Indira Gandhi, no other politician has had the cajones to handle a crisis like this. So Modi brought this upon himself. He never realized he could get effed over by nature. Or complacence, or even arrogance. 

We are so tired of the way our government doesn't make decisions based on science, facts, and rationality but instead based on how they perceive their ratings or a chance to remain in power will be. As politicians play roulette with our hope, we have lost the patience to listen. We don't want to clap our hands, turn off the lights, or clang vessels anymore. We don't want catchphrases, hashtags, and your bearded portraits in every government advertisement. 

We want our old normal back. We want our loved ones alive. We want you to vaccinate us, all of us soon.

We don't want to be discriminated against because of who we worship. We hated it when you targeted the few hundreds who attended the Tablighi Jamaat last year. It was a manhunt of epic proportions. The islamophobic amongst us refused to accept food when it was delivered by a Muslim man. We hate it when you allowed the Kumbh Mela to happen. We hate it that this led to 10000s of people getting infected and dying. We hate it that you restricted Muslims from celebrating iftaar during Ramzaan but had no qualms allowing 1000s on the Amarnath Yatra. 

We hated it when Manmohan Singh would speak so less. We hate it when you don't speak to us except when you need us. We hate it that you allowed rallies by the 1000s even when the second wave was well in. We hate that you'll probably not remember this tragedy and allow this to repeat in a few months.

We hate it that you are riled by posters (and people) that are critical of your governance. We hate it that you can't take criticism - even when it is entirely justified.

We hate it that you had several months to rebuild what was necessary and important but instead chose to sit back and do nothing. We hate it that you promised us and gloated to the world about how we are the Pharmacy to the world. We hate it that you didn't think of buying enough vaccines for all of us even as you launched the World's Largest Vaccination Drive. Sure, everyone loves a good hashtag. But not accounting for or even ordering for the number of vaccines makes it look like you didn't think this all the way through. I mean what kind of miracle did you think would happen when you innoculate just 3% of your country's population (as of 18th May 2021)? 

Come to think of it, our current administration is like an underachieving hormonal teenager. They love to dream big and fantasize about the mystical. Filled with untapped potential, they love to plan. But that's all they do. Once the fanfare and the applause die, and when they think about the hard work that lies ahead, they abandon ship to move on to the next big thing. Repeat cycle. But there is a glimmer of hope - if there is one thing that gets them to their knees, it is election time. Like a sex-craved teenager that can't think of anything else but satiating his own lust, politicians from our current administration will hug you, kiss you, court you, and make sweet sweet love to you. The rape begins once they've been voted to power. They will pit you against your neighbor and the neighbor's dog. All this to satiate their lust for unimaginable wealth that comes with power. Whoever thinks India is poor surely doesn't have a clue about the unaccounted wealth of our politicians and their sugar daddies. 

But that doesn't mean the opposition is any better. They just had it lucky. 

We hate it that we have to keep wondering about our government's strategy to govern. Motormouth politicians that live in denial want to say things are under control and that we can finally get to business. But we know that's not going to happen anytime soon. We are to blame too and we hate that too. We are too weak to get out to the streets and fight for a change and the easiest thing to do is to look the other way and continue mumbling under our breaths while living whatever subsistence of a life we can afford.       

We hate it that billions of dollars worth of aid and equipment from around the world lie at airports and seaports around the country just because our government banned foreign aid - in the middle of the pandemic last year. Surely, news of this apathy won't reach the ears and eyes of the millions of people and dozens of governments that donated generously to the Pharmacy of the World. We hate that you played vaccine diplomacy by shipping millions of vaccines to other countries while not ensuring we had enough for ourselves.
It's basic math, Mr. PM - 1.2 billion people need 2.4 billion vaccines. 

Today, as many countries in the West have figured out their strategy to fight, we are still floundering, badly. Our PM is MIA while we are dealing with a crisis of governance or the lack of it. 

As I read and hear about our government's reactive strategy that appears to mutate faster than the virus, I am sure there must be a Shakesperean play about this, or maybe we need to create one. Personally, I think the folktale of the Emperor's new clothes is the closest that fits. 

As our government stumbles from one grave milestone to another, my only hope is that months or years from now, we'll remember this - as the monumental fuckup that it is and hold the people accountable for this and make them pay. Not by jail terms. That's too mild. But by throwing them out of power and keeping them there. 

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