There is a reason why conspiracy theories have always been so popular. When reasonable people cannot come up with rational explanations to explain the tyrannical actions of the ruling class, they usually have to resort to bizarre conjectures in order to preserve their sanity. Usually, there is a much simpler explanation. The ruling class is overflowing with sociopaths who feel an intense arousal every time they exercise their power. The events that have been underway in India since the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic certainly points towards it.
Before proceeding any further, it needs to be pointed out that Indians are, by and large, not stupid. They are acutely aware of the threat posed by the Coronavirus and have been more observant of government guidelines than most. When Prime Minister Modi announced that he will not participate in any Holi celebrations due to the pandemic as mass gatherings were to be avoided, people heeded his concerns. If he had made the same appeal to citizens, people would have exercised more caution on their own.
But after all this time, despite all the patience that Indians have demonstrated, the citizens of this country are being criminalised over festivities. There are a lot of restrictions that people will observe if the restrictions are enforced equitably across the country. But when they can see with their own eyes that festivities and mass gatherings are treated arbitrarily, it breeds contempt. Contempt lays the seed for chaos.
Social media was afire on Friday when it was reported that the Bhubaneshwar Municipal Corporation had banned the Paya Shraddha and Pinda Dana rituals for ancestors at Bindusagar Lake and near Lingaraj Temple on Diwali. The decision was taken in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, we are told, although it is not precisely clear at this point why are mass gatherings permitted for political rallies but not Hindu rituals and rituals as important as the ones we perform for our ancestors.
While the ruling class across the country is on a power-trip, the ones in Odisha appear to be a special case. The district administration at Puri banned the age-old ritual of burning of Kaunriya Kathi (jute sticks) at the Singhadwar of Lord Jagannath Temple during Diwali this year. The excuse cited, once again, was the Coronavirus crisis.
“As there is possibility of huge smoke due to burning of Kaunriya Kathi, the ritual has been completely banned this year to prevent worsening of the pandemic situation. Covid-19 patients as well as others will be affected by the smoke. Therefore, we urge the people to perform rituals at their home, if possible,” Puri Sub-Collector Bhabataran Sahu said.
Sahu Babu did not explain how it will help prevent the further spread of the pandemic as people have been permitted to observe ‘Paya Sraddha’ at the Temple. But then again, answers to such questions cannot be expected from Babus who lord over us. We are puny mortals and Babus from their high seats are under no obligation to provide answers to our innocent queries.
It is not just Babus who are on a power trip this year. Our political class were presented with the chance to disguise their tyrannical tendencies under the guise of public good and they were not going to relinquish such a golden opportunity. A ban on firecrackers was imposed in numerous states across the country and now we have policemen pretending to be heroes by projecting cracker sellers as some sort of dreaded terrorists.
Punjab Police was boasting on social media about its crackdown on ‘illegal firecrackers’ during the “festive season” after demonstrating its stellar impotence at curbing down on instances of stubble burning which contribute more to pollution than firecrackers ever could. Not to be left behind, the Uttar Pradesh police is cracking down hard on firecracker sellers as well, arresting Hindus ahead of one of their most important festivals.
Citizens were initially quick to indulge in partisan politics over the firecracker ban accusing the political party they were ideologically opposed to of being responsible for the firecracker ban. But the truth of the matter is, blame for it lies on every single political party, the central government more so than others because it is with the explicit endorsement of the central government that the drive to ban firecrackers was first initiated.
Again, it has to be admitted that there has been no difference in the manner in which BJP ruled states and non-BJP ruled states have enforced the ban on firecrackers. Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are enforcing the ban with equal zeal despite the fact that the former has a Congress government while the latter is ruled by the BJP.
Some BJP ruled states have made it clear that firecrackers will not be banned during Diwali but then, the NGT the members of which were nominated by the BJP government at the centre have outright banned firecrackers in numerous towns and cities nationwide. Therefore, it is utterly dishonest to blame the Congress and absolve the BJP or vice versa.
When our bureaucracy and political class is running amok, how could our famed judiciary be far behind? West Bengal has elections around the corner and therefore, no political party wants to incur the wrath of the electorate. Thus, the Judiciary stepped in for their share of the pie. First, bizarre restrictions were imposed on Durga Puja celebrations and then firecrackers were banned as well.
It is a free country, ladies and gentlemen. The citizens will be freely harassed and harangued by each arm of the state in turn. The excuse being used for the unprecedented levels of tyranny is the Coronavirus. The powers that be have mandated that political rallies are more important than Hindus observing rituals for their ancestors.
It is the same manner in which the powers that be had mandated that massive crowds outside of liquor shops were more important than Durga Puja celebrations. The Coronavirus is certainly the smartest virus human beings have encountered. Amazingly, it does not spread at mass gatherings approved by the ruling class. The cognitive abilities of the virus certainly has me confounded.
Needless to say, this is a recipe for instability. A country cannot be governed peacefully for long when the ruling class is at war against the dominant culture of the country. The cultural reform that the Indian State seeks to impose on Hindus is akin to the ‘cultural revolution’ of the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP prevailed eventually but it was not before unparalleled devastation and destruction was wreaked upon China.
The ruling class of the country has demonstrated that it does not care at all about the masses. The lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been devastated by the ban on firecrackers. And the state did not even blink an eye as all these lives were thrown into turmoil. The dream for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ will remain a fantasy if this is the approach that is adopted by the state.
During the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic, those opposing the government sanctioned lockdown in western countries, particularly the USA, were mocked. But no one is laughing now. It is clear that government sanctioned lockdown has given complete power to tyrants who arbitrarily enforce lockdown without a shred of sympathy for those they lord over.
It is a nightmare now and it is unclear when it will end. But end it will. However, what lies after that might be even worse. And the blame for it shall solely lie on the ruling class of this country. The masses have suffered enough, bled enough and endured enough misery.