Factory-less crowds are marching towards no land. They have no new land and no other seas, as artist William Kentridge once quoted. Only pairs of those feet have been walking down ceaselessly, if someone walks less fast he or she may be left out in all darkness of shivering isolation. Crossing down miles and miles without food and rarely any water will be celebrated as a democracy while on the other end the worldwide lockdown due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused hypersensitivity in the minds of ruling elites. Often they are committing suicide or getting too insecure as this virus is offensive irrespective of class and colour.
What do privileged people like us doing in the meantime? They are getting bored with adequate food. Coronavirus is a bookkeeper of excess. It knows who ate and who threw out ‘leftovers’ in the air out of fancy window panes. A huge wave of immigrant workers has been progressing towards certain destinations when the Indian government. is declaring to seal state and district borders to control exodus. Exodus could be this brutal when the workers’ lungs full of silica grains even become more active, without masks and water. Exodus could be this forbidding when your child is having a piece of cake and watching a cartoon and theirs would carry all the huge burden of unwashed clothes and she would be wearing a dusty pink frock which would whisper in the air, ‘where are my books gone?’!
This democracy that fails to provide homes to the majority of the working mass. Even if a house is built after a long struggle, the home would never. The wife will be widowed as her husband would walk miles under a scorching sun and die of a cardiac arrest. They are no dead people but killed in the disguise of a charitable state. In this state today 1% has accumulated four-times the wealth of 70% of the population. In the name of being caring, this government might give some symbolic dole, which will win over a huge section. Then everyone will forget the wealth inequality.
Currently, Bharatiya Janata Party is busy buying legislators while privileged non-residential Indians are entering the country while the border is getting sealed for the labourers. Twenty-two immigrant labourers, including a kid, have died to date. End of this lockdown will be havoc. The government will do fund cuts in the name of charity. Authority will be powerful. It’s a pseudo drill of future emergencies when even the sky will forget to roar. Now that policemen are beating the poor for breaking the newly prepared Coronavirus rule, every letter in your democracy starts re-crumbling.
Healthcare here for every other problem is in muddles. It’s impossible to quarantine people in large numbers. Isolation thus became a privilege. You will suffer more from the disorder from the virus. It’s a time when the privileged are saving their class self-isolating while poor people are struggling for two pieces of bread. Government, NGOs, state all have been there for ages but death from hunger couldn’t be saved. Every death under poverty is a planned murder by the state.
It’s beautiful that nature is resuming its rhythm. But unpolluted green to a hungry crowd is the other side of the river. To the privileged, it’s a frame for a DSLR camera. Problem is that we have stopped searching for people in people. Our bourgeois education system has taught us to hate people from the working-class, to lose empathy towards them while loving the rich, praying to be rich. State, that too a fascist one, can’t love the countrymen. It does everything to win over the privileged and bribe the poor in the name of religious fascism. They are adopting the ancient technique of quarantining the rich to separate rich from the poor. The healthy from the sick.
The intermittent crisis of capitalism does not and will not routinely lead to a more progressive or more socialistic society. That requires conscious socialist endeavours as well. Only a catastrophe like Coronavirus means, it will be passed on to the ordinary people’s shoulders and the ruling classes will make definite alterations and acclimatize. Maybe the internal dynamics of the ruling classes will change, new forces will come to the bow. But without a challenge from the people, these changes remain internal to the elite. At most a new elite replaces the old elite. Let’s keep our will alive and work out now, or never, without confusing politics with ideological debate.
Dhrupadi Ghosh is a PhD student of Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia. She is a sculptor, an artist who use art to exhibit dissent brewing in the society. She writes on campus, gender, caste, communalism and class politics.