'System has not collapsed. It barely existed," Arundhati Roy on Modi and India Covid crisis

Kolkata, India: Unlike what Modi-aligned Indian media has been regurgitating about the nation's healthcare system that has 'collapsed,' Arundhati Roy in her long-read Guardian column writes, "the “system” barely existed."

In a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of India's COVID-19 pandemic, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of  The God Of Small Thingswrites "it’s hard to convey the full depth and range of the trauma, the chaos and the indignity that people are being subjected to." 

India is arguably amid the world's worst COVID-19 crisis, with the nation's hospitals choke-full with new chart-breaking cases, and crematoriums and burying grounds struggling to lay the dead to rest with dignity. 

'Modi the messiah,' 'Modi the magician,' writes Roy in her editorial, addressing PM Modi, as she strips down the politics, rhetorics from reality.  Her article shared over 34,670 times at the time of publication. 

"With his customary braying sneer, in which every taunt and barb rises to a high note mid-sentence before it falls away in a menacing echo, he stirred up the crowd," Roy begins the essay in a parching narrative referring to Modi's 2017 speech at UP. 

During his 2017 re-election campaign, often called polarizing for his Hindu nationalist speech, Modi addressed a rally taking a jibe at the then state government, which of course was opposition, for not building enough Hindu cremation (Samasan) grounds as Muslin burial sites (Kabarsthan).

“If a kabristan is built in a village, a shamshan should also be constructed there,” Modi said.

Perhaps he is relieved that the eerie image of flames emerging from mass funerals in India's cremation grounds has made the front pages of foreign newspapers, Roy writes in the editorial. 

"And that all the kabristans and shamshans in his country are working properly, in direct proportion to the populations they cater for, and far beyond their capacities."

"Modi the magician takes a bow for saving humanity by containing the coronavirus effectively. Now that it turns out that he has not contained it, can we complain about being viewed as though we are radioactive? That other countries’ borders are being closed to us and flights are being canceled? That we’re being sealed in with our virus and our prime minister, along with all the sickness, the anti-science, the hatred, and the idiocy that he, his party, and its brand of politics represent?" Roy's editorial reads. 

India saved humanity from a major disaster

Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist firebrand who rose to fame from his terms as Gujrat CM, and subsequently Indian PM, has come under the fire for neglecting India's COVID-19 preparedness when there was time.

India is now experiencing more COVID-19 cases than anywhere else in the world, with the nation's chronically underfunded healthcare system sniffing the dust off the ground. 

Hospitals are running out of oxygen prompting dozens of COVID-19 patients to die of choking, while thousands are having to wait for one lucky bed to begin treatment. 

Just three months ago, standing at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January this year, Modi taunted the world in his signature tone for doubting India's ability to heal the virus crisis. 

"It was predicted that India would be the most affected country from corona all over the world. It was said that there would be a tsunami of corona infections in India, somebody said 700-800 million Indians would get infected while others said 2 million Indians would die," Modi said to the global platform (WEF) in January. 

At that time the new infections were weaning after hitting the first wave peaks in September and October in 2020. 

By effectively trapping corona in a country that is home to 18% of the world's population, the country has saved humanity from a major disaster, Modi claimed. 

But much to the dismay of India as a nation, and much to its embarrassment, the country is now in a mire of complexities that are perhaps too advanced to reverse, unless radical methods are applied, or circumstances are allowed to take their due course. 

For the third day in a row, India recorded 3.86 (386k plus) lakh new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day increase. The national total has now reached 1.87 crores, with a daily positivity rate of 20.1 percent, Union Health Ministry data shows. 

But the data may not be the most accurate, experts warn. Real cases might be way over these. 

"The precise numbers that makeup India’s Covid graph are like the wall that was built in Ahmedabad to hide the slums Donald Trump would drive past on his way to the “Namaste Trump” event that Modi hosted for him in February 2020," Roy writes in the editorial. 

Bengal Elections

West Bengal election, which yesterday saw its last and final phase, has been a concern for public health experts and critics, who fear the huge public rallies, long queues before polling stations could prove devastating for the state. 

In West Bengal, a new version of the virus that causes Covid-19 has been discoveredThe 'triple mutant form' of Covid-19 (also known as the 'Bengal strain') is said to be more contagious than other strains.

According to reports, although this variant is most prevalent in West Bengal, it has also been found in samples from Delhi and Maharashtra.

Arundhati Roy writes, winning Bengal required our home minister, Modi's man Amit Shah, to essentially abandon his cabinet duties and devote his entire attention to Bengal for months, disseminating his party's murderous propaganda and pitting man against man in every town and village.

Many have urged the Election Commission for slashing the state's multi-phased election schedule into one single phase to avoid superspreader events, including CM Mamata Banerjee's party. 

But the Election Commission refused and came down hard on the side of the BJP, and the campaign continued.

Reports suggest every second person in Kolkata now tests COVID-19 positive, and the BJP government has promised free vaccines for Bengalis if elected to power. 

Politically, Bengal has been a hot-seat for the BJP which has never won a majority in the state, and Modi himself has addressed massive public rallies and so did CM Mamata Banerjee. 

We'll clean up the mess

Arundhati Roy says despite hashtags like #ResignModi, Modi, a man with 'no feelings,(...)  empty eyes and a mirthless smile, can, like so many tyrants in the past, arouse passionate feelings in others," Roy wrote in the editorial. 

She writes, our government is incapable of leading us out of this tragedy. Not least because all decisions in this government are made by one man, and that man is dangerous – 'and not very bright.'

Is resigning from crimes a viable option for Modi? Roy questions.

Maybe he should just take a break from them – from all his hard work. There's that $564 million Boeing 777, Air India One, that's been sitting idle on the runway for a while now, customized for VVIP travel – for him, in reality. He and his men should simply flee. The rest of us will do everything in our power to clean up their mess.

Read Arundhati Roy's full editorial here. 

Share this story