We are witness to an unprecedented disaster as it unravels in front of our eyes. It is interesting to analyse the responses of various countries, organisations and communities to this health emergency.
The Global Response
Having unleashed this virulent virus that seems incurable presently, how did China respond? Like any totalitarian Communist regime – it suppressed critical information, used strong-arm, highly coercive and cruel methods to contain it. The Western response came from Europe, which emerged as the next epicentre of the crisis. The foolish faux liberalism persuaded people to embrace Chinese just to show off their liberalism, despite the medical risk, leading to a tsunami of infections. We also find that Western societies depended solely on the governments to resolve this humongous problem. There hardly seems to be any organised the civil groups’ support system.
India too fell prey to this rogue virus. The Government of India was one of the earliest countries to stop flights, visas and begin screening at the entry points. Despite the poor medical infrastructure we significantly controlled the rising numbers of infections. This trend continued till three days back when we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of religious madness of suicidal people who flouted all the norms of pandemic control, which led to a significant spike in the infected cases.
Surprisingly, we as a country responded wonderfully to the administrative measures. It showed the co-operative spirit of our society in times of crises. If we were not co-operative, no forces could make a vast country with 130 Crore people to behave.
There was tragic chaos of migrant labour, further exacerbated by politicians and left-oriented media. Though, this problem is coming under control slowly; it brought out the horrors of poor daily wage earners, labour, vegetable vendors etc.
It was at this time that Hindu society that represents the soul of India showed its mettle and rose to the occasion. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its affiliate organisations, other Hindu organisations, Jains and Sikhs etc. began serving the poor spontaneously. As of today, 10000 locations in India, about one million poor were served by 100,000 RSS volunteers. The Jain community has become the most significant contributor to various relief agencies, totalling 2000 million INR. Every Indian industrialist, temple and individuals contributed well. Different sects of Dharmic tradition and individuals opened kitchens. The majority community, overall, behaved in an exemplary manner. If there were exceptions, none supported them, in fact, criticised them. This showed unselfish love for the society and the nation.
The virus has no religion. The acts like refusal to vacate Shaheen Bagh, and similar misadventures elsewhere, show a sense of irresponsibility of the leaders who egged them on with implacable hate. Their followers’ refusal to be tested and treated, their threats to infect others by various means added a new dimension to the grimness of the situation. A sustained campaign by most of the orthodox Muslim leadership to disobey the Lockdown, to question the very rationale of lockdown by collecting crowds and claiming that it was against their religion shows how a significant section of Indians cut off from the problem of India; as if they don’t belong here.
The irrational behaviour of these supposed thekedars of the community flies against the attitude of Muslim community leaders across the world. Refusal to integrate and follow science at the time of national disaster is matched only by Mullahs of Pakistan who refused to listen to their government, which itself is a damning comment. And how did Pakistan prepare for Wuhan Virus, by preparing a huge burial ground! And we had a Maharashtra Muslim minister turn down scientific advice to cremate all Wuhan Virus victims. The blind hate generated by such leaders who believe they are a nation within a nation, saw them contributing nothing to alleviate the sufferings of their own community, forget that of other communities.
The current imbroglio tells us that our efforts to integrate the community kept back in India on exertions of Gandhi ji and Nehru ji despite Dr Ambedkar’s suggestions of exchange of population has failed despite investing in it for seven decades. It is not that rise of Mr Modi has undone what was done so far. It only shows that you can’t make friends by bribing someone; meeting of hearts is the crucial factor.
We are aware that there is no dearth of good leaders in the Muslim community who have worked hard to bring about a meeting of minds of this community with others in India. But, they have been marginalised by so-called secular parties. Submission to Mullah’s Islam began with Khilafat. Will the unsavoury behaviour of hateful members exposing the dark side of militant Islam be a turning point in Muslim community’s behaviour in India? Will the modern educated Muslim leadership stand up and wrest the leadership from obscurantists? Or will reformist Muslims again retreat into their shells, fearing isolation within the community? I hope not.
(The Writer is a author and columinist)