Opinion

India 2020: The story of marching millions

DR. RUCHIRA KHULLAR | June 03, 2020 06:51 PM

NEW DELHI: Despite the hazardous journey, these workers march on with nothing but faith in their hearts. Whenever the history is written, it will be the story of out marching millions. Nobody in our diverse and cultural rich country wants a reality check. But by the end of lockdown 5.0 and with the beginning of unlock 1 we should have been out ,rebelling against it and protesting, but we aren’t. The fact is we have all messed up .We have gone hopelessly wrong in handling this pandemic. The most insensitive decisions were unilaterally taken and bluntly announced to a nation of 1.3 billion citizens. Certainly when historians will write the history about this very challenging period, the story of these marching millions, who were left with nothing but faith to reunite with their soil- no matter what it costs.

This is not about the sorry exodus of millions of our more unfortunate brothers and sisters playing out on prime TV these days. It is not a piece about the government, or about politics or economics. It is neither critical nor sacerdotal. It is not about Modi or the Biblical scale suffering he has inflicted, yet again, on those who had put their trust in him. That is a matter between him and his Maker, and I hope the potter who moulded him can forgive him, for history will not. This is not about a callous Finance Minister with the rictus of arrogance stretched across her face. It is not about a judiciary which has thrown away its moral compass in the arid deserts of ambition and preference. It is not about a media which has struck a Faustian bargain with the devil and is content to feed on the offal flung its way. It is not about Rahul Gandhi or Mayawati or Nitish Kumar for they have already become irrelevant to the pathetic course of events unfolding.

This piece is about me and the burden I carry, a burden of shame, that has been sitting on my back for the last few weeks and cannot be dislodged, no matter how hard I try. It' s a burden which just got heavier this morning when I read a post by an army officer describing his moving encounter in Gurgaon with families of "migrants" walking their way to Bihar, no footwear on the weary soles treading on melting roads, hungry and uncomprehending four year olds, of how they wept and tried to touch his feet when he gave them a few five hundred rupee notes.

I hang my head in shame in the India of 2020. At belonging to a country and a society which exiles tens of millions from their cities, fearful of catching an infection from them, from a virus brought here, not by them, but by my brethren flying in from abroad. Of treating the hapless victim as the perpetrator. Ashamed of being a gullible cretin who swallows all the lies and half-truths churned out by a dissembling official apparatus. Of beating pots and pans as a servile hosanna to an uncaring presiding deity to drown out the sounds of tired feet marching to their distant village

 

I am ashamed of the thought processes of my class,

 

They will reach their homes ultimately, those marching millions, minus a few thousand who will die on the way. They will not even be mentioned in the statistics: there will be no Schindler's list for them. And we will pat ourselves on our collective, genuflecting backs that one problem has been taken care of, the danger to our neo-liberal civilisation has been beaten back, the carriers have been sent away, the curve will now flatten. But the mirror has cracked and can never be made whole again. As the Bard said, the fault is not in our stars but within us. Or, as  delectably put by another great bard, one of our own who now belongs to the "others":

 

" Umar bhar Ghalib yahi bhool karta raha,

Dhool chehre par thi, aur aina saaf karta raha."

Actually, this piece is not just about me- it's also about you, dear reader. Look into that cracked mirror. Do you feel any shame, just a little , for what we have become, for the lost soul of a once great nation?

Dr. Ruchira khullar
 

Writer by

Associate Professor. Pt. J.L.N.

Govt college, Faridabad, Haryana, India

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