View From The Right: Prevent, don’t panic


Published: March 18, 2020 1:02:26 am

People with symptoms queue outside a Novel Coronavirus facilitation centre at the RML hospital in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal/File Photo)

The latest issue of the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, has focused on the spread of coronavirus in India. In an editorial by Prafulla Ketkar, Organiser has asked people to not panic but prevent the spread of the disease. It has also lauded the government’s efforts towards prevention and attacked politicians who are seen to have mocked Indian culture.

“We are a mature society with inherent preventive mechanisms in our tradition. Initiatives like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan also are coming handy in averting further spread. Some people are still in the colonial hangover and take pride in mocking Bharat; some immature politicians are also trying to earn brownie points in this grave situation. We have to spread awareness, adopt best-practices related to civic hygienic life and show the world our resilience without pressing the panic button. The words of sages like Swami Vivekananda preached at the time of plague in Kolkata — known as the Plague Manifesto — can come handy in this endeavour,” the editorial says.

Cautioning against panic, the editorial further states: “While taking requisite precaution, we should not forget that this outbreak is not as fatal as the flu of 1968 or the Asian flu of 1956, in which millions died. Right now, 90 per cent of the infected cases are limited to four countries, including China. The fatality rate is 3.4 per cent though it can be more if we consider the limited infected zones like Wuhan.”

Namste corona

In another article focused on the pandemic, Organiser has expressed happiness that the entire world is adopting the Indian greeting of namaste because of the coronavirus outbreak, and how it could bring world peace. Taking note of how the entire world is now avoiding physical contact, the article said, “This is where namaste has come to fill the void, rather it has come to our rescue! The whole world is adopting this Indian salutation for greeting one another. It not only avoids “bodily contact” but also enables greeting another person with respect, from a distance.” The article goes on to cite how different world leaders, from Donald Trump to Benjamin Netanyahu were adopting ‘Namaste’, and, talks about Congress leader Shashi Tharoor praising the tradition and calling it “scientific”. The article even goes on to quote Voltaire on the greatness of Indian civilisation, and laments the ignorance of Indian intellectuals: “… in the home country there are top intellectuals who just shrug aside, or even denigrate, Indian ethos and values without ever making any efforts to study them,” it said. Talking about how namaste is more than just a greeting and, rather, an acknowledgement of the divine in each being, the article says: “Let’s hope the coronavirus stays true to (the general reputation of) its manufacturers (read Chinese) and doesn’t last long. Let’s also hope that namaste also stays true to its creators (read Indian sages) and lasts long, particularly in order to foster universal brotherhood, and the sentiment of the entire world being a family (Vasudhaiva kutumbakam). Is it not the need of the hour when mindless hostility, brutal violence and terrors are hurting modern civilisation? The coronavirus may be prevented by new vaccinations, but not the virus of inner hostility and hatred unless we affectionately bow down and say NAMASTE!”

Victimhood model

One may wonder why Asaduddin Owaisi, an erudite barrister and an admired parliamentarian, speaks only for a community? Once seen as a non-sectarian leader, has Owaisi fallen for the victimhood trap? Is it too lucrative to ignore? An article by Kabir Pandit in Organiser has argued that this powerful “victimhood model” has been employed since the second half of the 19th century. It was used during the Khilafat movement, the two-nation theory, and the partition of the country, the 1986 Shah Bano case and the 2002 Gujarat riots. “This ‘template’ was cast in stone sometime after the 2002 Gujarat riots and since then it has been co-opted by the likes of ‘Karwan e Mohabbat” activists, single malt socialists, journalists, artists and other loyalists of 10 Janpath who had dreamt of a Padma award,” the article says. It has lamented the Delhi riots saying both Hindus and Muslims were killed, and mosques and temples gutted. “For Owaisi, only Faizan and Zubair matter, Ankit and Ratan Lal are not worthy of being mourned. Tahir Hussain and Shahrukh are victims and Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur are perpetrators of a pogrom,” it has said. Arguing that Owaisi has deliberately ignored the footage of Muslim mobs pelting stones, Swara Bhaskar giving a war cry and the likes of Harsh Mander asking people to hit the streets, the article has said, “These blatant lies are part of the template which Amit Shah and Modi are not buying. They won’t take a Rajiv Gandhi-type turn. The current dispensation appears to be the kind which follows the rule of law and not the rule of caste/identity politics. Maybe that’s where the real problem is for Owaisi and other adopters of this ‘template’.”

Compiled by Deeptiman Tiwary

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