Shooting from the Hip
[ed. note: the tweets linked below mainly show videos from various lockdown phases]
Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt.
Stranded in India… [PT]
Tens of millions of people - myself included - got stuck wherever they were.
People were not allowed to leave their homes, not even for grocery shopping, the latter of which was amended after a few days when the government realized that people needed to eat. In a country of 1.38 billion people, the initial policy was a shot from the hip, without any consultation or planning, as if prepared by primary school kids.
Hunger Games, Day-27, India; The irony is that it is the poor who have done slightly better are the most vicious towards the poor. It is women who are most misogynistic. Having been given a blank check, those somewhat better off are putting to action all the sadism they have. pic.twitter.com/4IVXX8qKCV— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 19, 2020
Those, particularly the poor, who ventured out to get food, were ruthlessly beaten by police.
Hunger Games, Day-8; Hundreds of millions are desperate. Lines are growing. In economics, this is a sign of shortages. So is "Price gouging". In the dystopia of India, beating up shop-keepers is believed to relieve shortages. In a police state, the police also becomes the judge. pic.twitter.com/AWRPFzSHrD— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 1, 2020
In a country where 300 million people go to bed hungry on a typical day, many more were immediately sent to starvation. Tens of millions of migrant workers—perhaps as much as 100 million or more—living from hand to mouth got stuck where they could no longer afford to stay without a regular job.
Hunger Games, Day-15; Groceries were asked to reduce their hours. Then, vegetables were to be supplied only by Indian government, which came for a day or two and then disappeared. They had killed the supply chain by stopping road traffic. 100's of millions are starving. pic.twitter.com/6OhLv7YMmT— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 10, 2020
If your teenage daughter had gone to another city for a night, she was to be stuck for at least two months without any recourse — if she had no money or safe place to stay, that was not Modi’s problem. I was stuck for four months before I could finally get on a repatriation flight to North America.
Hunger Games, Day-17; On an average day, it is impossible to get an ambulance in India, and govt hospitals are death-traps, littered on floors and driveways with sick, hungry, unattended poor. Now, there is no private transport. Many pvt. doctors are shut. A woman with a dead son pic.twitter.com/DRCrRQIvrl— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 12, 2020
Hungry and thirsty, in sauna-like summer, hundreds of thousands of homeless people walked hundreds of kilometers, in many cases more than a thousand kilometers, to get to their rural homes. Hundreds of those who took a walk died.
Modi comes across a singing bowl….[PT]
Hunger Games, Day-21; Migrant workers in Mumbai, tired of false promises, are desperately trying to get home, now that the lockdown is extended by 18 days. Another march is beginning. pic.twitter.com/L4zef0vWpP— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 14, 2020
No country enforced a lockdown as draconian as that imposed in India.
Hunger Games, Day-26: The Indian police think of itself as the occupying enemy. It now considers its job to rape and pillage. If you might get corona-virus, they will kill you beforehand to keep the numbers low for the Supreme Leader to show off to the world. pic.twitter.com/cND2SDmG5s— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 18, 2020
Hunger Games; Day-27 (b). This is a food distribution center in Delhi. After the crowd rushed in, they find apathetic government officials who don't move a finger, who get a guaranteed salary. I will leave you to imagine what is happening elsewhere in India. pic.twitter.com/r0VfQeOarr— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 19, 2020
Hunger Games, Day-41; The games have been so much fun that its duration has been increased by another two weeks. This is tropical summer, reaching 45 celsius already. Migrant workers, who have been stuck, hungry, and brutalized for 40 days, are moving again. pic.twitter.com/WwC4f0y7nv— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) May 1, 2020
Crumbling Infrastructure & Teflon Modi
Indians consider it unmanly to do a proper job of anything, so nothing works properly. India lacks quality. Electrical cables hang around everywhere. Work is done flimsily. No wonder you typically lose electricity at least once a day, even in posh areas.
A complete curfew over the last 68 days had to send India’s infrastructure crumbling down.
Hunger Games, Day-50; Indians don’t know "reason." The rulers cannot explain, & the subjects can't understand. So, all explanation is through brutality. These kids subliminally learn that all communication must be through violence. pic.twitter.com/fk72UIus93— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) May 10, 2020
Soon after a slight relaxation, one chemical plant in the southern city of Vishakhapatnam had a significant gas leak. Over a thousand people collapsed. Scores died. The same day, a coal-fired boiler burst, something unusual given the high safety standards associated with boilers these days. But it did in India. This had to happen where people lack an understanding of safety, and everything is left to be completed tomorrow.
Hunger Games, the everyday one; Nothing is ever done properly in India. Everything needs constant maintenance & is always at the edge of collapse. Indians have no safety instinct. Now, for 45 days factories were closed. Here is a gas leakage in Vizag. This had to happen. pic.twitter.com/opORhnRyc5— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) May 7, 2020
After the 68 days of nation-wide curfew, restrictions were relaxed a little in parts of the country. People after that needed “internal visas” to move around within the allowed areas, albeit trains and flights were still not functioning. If you got stuck a thousand kilometers from where you were supposed to be, you still had to walk to your destination or take a costly taxi if you could get one. And taxi-drivers knew that they could get beaten up—or even killed—by the police before any questions were asked.
Hunger Games, Day-33, India: The police beat up his son so badly that he died. He had gone out to get food. The dad is begging the police to investigate and to get him justice. In a police state, investigators, legislature and the judiciary are the same. This is the new India. pic.twitter.com/WzS2kyLmaY— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 24, 2020
My squabble is not with Modi. He is a naïve, simplistic bully, characteristic of what tribal, amoral, irrational Indians would vote into power.
In an irrational society, it is impossible to know who is responsible and to untangle causes from effects. The rulers elected by irrational masses cannot take decisions or then explain those to citizens, who cannot understand or follow anyway. If a rare case ends up in court, the judge cannot decide.
In a recent case, the Supreme Court asked a rapist of a minor girl if he would marry her. In such a society, brutality and savagery are the only media for communication. Those beaten up look for another weak person—not their oppressor to avenge—to perpetuate savagery. But they will still vote for Modi. That is the karmic cycle of India, in which Modi is merely a full participant.
Hunger Games, Day-56, India; These were hard-working men. They had never thought of begging or fighting for food. In the last two months, that shame is gone. Where are the women? I guess human-trafficking has ramped up sharply. We will know soon. pic.twitter.com/q4cnmdJtmG— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) May 14, 2020
The economy is organic. You must keep it in motion. If you stop it, there will be unknown, unseen, and unthought-of problems, particularly in India, where the leadership does not engage in complex thinking and cannot plan for the future.
India, contrary to what the World Bank and the IMF assert, was already economically stagnant before the corona-virus hit. It had to find it extremely difficult to kickstart the economy if it could be done at all.
India’s economy before and after the outbreak of COVID-19 – now there is an excuse… [PT]
The international media, mesmerized by India’s democracy and in thrall to political correctness, claimed that India brought COVID-19 under control through faithfully following mask-wearing. In reality, hardly anyone wears a mask—the rare person that wears one takes it off when talking to people.
Hunger Games, Day-67, India; In the blistering heat, lack of food and water, migrant workers suffer horrendously. At a railway station, waiting forever for a train, here are two kids trying to wake up their dead mother. pic.twitter.com/vKB20urLg4— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) May 27, 2020
Fast forward to today, a year later, widespread starvation and poverty have meant that the government can no longer keep people from going out. Massive desperation has set in. Beggars remind one of the 1980s. People are desperate for jobs. India has relegated at least 75 million new people to poverty. The Indian economy contracted by 10.3% in 2020 – making it one of the worst-performing in the world.
In its supreme wisdom, the government runs a minimal number of trains and buses and restricts opening hours for shops. They fail to understand that this creates horrible congestion, massive chaos, and over-crowding.
Hunger Games, Day-65; Irrespective of the merit of the atrocious lockdown, it has worsened social distancing and has created the worst humanitarian crisis since Stalin/Mao's times. It has destroyed the social fabric from which India is unlikely to recover. pic.twitter.com/8B7QFrg7Rs— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) May 25, 2020
For a few months, COVID-19 did come under control, but this had nothing to do with the Indian government. Then COVID-19 started up again. The corona-virus is currently spreading exponentially in India, contesting the top slot for the most daily cases globally.
The virus ban by midnight didn’t really work out as envisaged… [PT]
While the government talks proudly of India having developed a vaccine and supplying it across the globe, it does not even have the infrastructure to vaccinate its own people who demand it. A mere 4% of Indians have so far received their first shot. It will take many years before India can be thoroughly vaccinated. One must be thankful that COVID-19 is hopefully not a tool for Malthusian designs, but that day is destined to come.