Tag: India

Is this what war feels like?

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Maybe, this is what war feels like. We have witnessed it from afar in countries where war wages through the year, replete with shelling, gassing, dead bodies and blood. A war in which the eyes of the survivors reflect the pain of loss. Numb. Vacant. Sad.

And yet, there is something different about this war being waged in India. There is no blood. There is no sound. There is no warning of attack

Maybe, this is what the Spanish flu pandemic felt like. Invisible but aggressive. Leaving death and loss in its wake.

And yet, there is something different about this pandemic. We are feeling the loss and the pain collectively. Sadness is a constant. For some, the loss is immediate and within the family. Close and terrifying. For others, it has almost come home but hasn’t quite crossed the threshold, yet. This pandemic is stained with fear and carries with it a sense of impending doom. It is imbued with guilt. It is heavy. And death is a mere statistic.

The air is acrid with the smell of death as it rises from burning pyres to fill our senses, choking us. It reminds us that many more lives will be sacrificed at the altar of greedy politicians, mismanagement and intractable ego. Many more miserable and desperate people will be exploited by the Big Pharma and the petty crooks all looking to line their pockets. Oblivious to misery until it strikes their homes. This is a politicised pandemic where the administration has forsaken its people. Where the government is intent on whitewashing its image to the point of callousness.

Helplessness has united us all as we move from message to message threads, tracking, locating, identifying, scrambling for oxygen, beds, drugs … chaos fills us and yet this is the only thing that may still save us. The chain of help that has been building steadily, creating a web of resources, reassurance and love. A soothing breath. A crutch for the abandoned.

While our soldiers in blue march on. Tired and overwhelmed.

Bloodbath

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What are these times we see today around us?

The nation heaves and gasps for air

As the regime rushes to whitewash away

Or look the other way.

Strangers come together to help and to hold

Misery colours all that we behold

Where is the national pride now?

As people wail in despair.

Other nations look aghast at our bloodied canvas

Murder holds India in her throes

As loss upon loss piles up of those we know and those we don’t know.

Let us pledge never to forget

Let us vow to help each other find our way out of this mess

The time has come for our Mann ki Baat

The time has come to say no more. No more. No more.

Atmanirbhar (Self dependent)

I woke up this morning to another depressing set of news headlines. Each news article brings with it anxiety and doubt. ‘Should I trust this as credible? Is this propaganda?’ I continue scrolling compulsively, unable to stop.

I then gravitate to social media for my daily fix of angst, despair and dark humour. That is, until the phone rings and the day descends into a vortex of vicariously lived trauma. A desperate hunt for Remdesivir. A mad search for a single hospital bed. A wild goose chase for oxygen cylinders. Panic. Fear. Burning pyres. Voices drenched with grief.

The word ‘atmanirbhar’ is a term designed specially for the benefit of the citizens of India by our esteemed government.

In this bid to gift us atmanirbharta … citizens of India are today scrambling for basics while policy makers and caretakers of the country try and pivot. Too little. Too late. The second covid-19 wave has us firmly in its grip.

People, even those with access and resources, are running from pillar to post to save their loved ones. Politicians are defining what we can or cannot have access to. People are being forced to negotiate cash payment for medicines, hospital admissions and test results with those who are exploiting this need for profit. So much for demonetisation. Savings are being cleaned out as people are forced to make decisions under pressure with no choice or say in the matter. The person on the street is struggling to stay safe while earning barely enough to feed their dependents.

The hospital staff is in tears. The laboratory staff is working sleeplessly for days on end swamped with covid tests. The health infrastructure can’t bear the weight of this unending surge.

The harsh, inescapable reality is that the virus has brought everyone to their knees.

India is today in an unenviable position. A country of 1.39 billion people. A heaving, gasping population unable to comprehend why there is no respite from this nightmare.

This is what we voted for. A casual cockiness by our well meaning leaders that set the tone and we all celebrated having beaten the virus. We became lax. Mumbai opened its huge suburban public train network. Packed stadiums for cricket matches were witnessed. Political leaders led by example and helmed political rallies without masks. The kumbh mela 2021, originally scheduled for 2022, was brought forward to appease the majority sentiment and stretched across weeks. A well thought through and researched introduction of farming bills was accompanied by a charming reticence to engage in talks. It resulted in an ongoing six month long battle of wills with farmers on the streets, fighting to have their voices heard. All this regardless of a virus that was waiting for its moment to attack.

courtesy tourmyindia.com

This is what we voted for. Banging thalis and lighting diyas in support of the medical fraternity and crushing them carelessly under an unending stream of patients.

This is what we voted for. A massive gathering of people serving a political agenda at a time when globally established protocols require countries to be watchful, break the chain of contagion and allow the healthcare teams some breathing space. 

This is what we voted for. An ambitious bunch of pied pipers who have led a devout vote bank towards devastation.

Another day draws to a close. I see an ambulance make its way silently down the road with only its lights flashing. We sit within our homes, the ones who are privileged to do so and watch the horror unfold. The less privileged are out there fighting every single day for survival. This is what we voted for.

Beauty in tumult

Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai. Dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e-kaatil mein hai. (The desire to make a sacrifice is in our hearts. Let us see what strength there is in the arms of our executioner) Bismil Azimabadi

Today’s youth is impassioned, angry and awake. They’ve found a cause towards which to direct their energy. Righteous, patriotic, inclusive, fighting injustice … it’s a beautiful, heartwarming sight.

Today, almost 50% of our population in India is below 25 years of age. The average age of an Indian is 29 years. Imagine the sheer power we wield as a country!

Unwittingly, this power has been harnessed and is gradually unleashing its moral strength, righteous anger and indignation upon the leading lights of our nation. All it took was an encroachment into civil rights and constitutional freedoms.

To see them pouring out into the streets across India, choosing a path of restraint despite provocation, choosing to stand with their brothers and sisters, choosing unity and diversity … it is like witnessing an eagle take flight. Powerful and glorious.