The continuing dark shadow of the second wave of COVID-19 continues to shroud our lives in a way never experienced before. Yet we have faced it with fortitude and forbearance, perhaps more than those in whose hands our national destiny lies today. When we come out of the deadly pandemic the world will be quite different, to begin with it will be without many people we have loved and cherished as indeed those who from a distance occupied our attention and the trajectory of our lives. Death is often unexpected but the feeling now is that we are all being spun on a Russian roulette trigger, here today, gone tomorrow. It is of course not in our hands to control our body responses to medication but then that comes only if there is a bed, uninterrupted oxygen and a ventilator in case it is required.
It is indeed noble what doctors and medical staff have relentlessly subjected themselves to in the recurring battle against Covid-19. It is tragic in the extreme that many have lost their precious lives to the infection and many more continue to struggle as patients themselves. For me the tragedy unfolding struck a particularly painful chord at having to look for life saving drugs for one doctor who for years had answered my call to help a distressed, poor patient and saved lives that would have been lost without any help. When calls come today, often from families that managed well in the past, I am at a loss because beds are just not available at any cost, the doctor who answered my calls is on ventilator. Are prayers all that we are left with, and the dimming hope that the wheel of fate will turn again. Where is God in all this? And religion, that we cannot have enough to contest elections over? One common appeal by religious leaders of various religions might have a salutary effect on our living souls and the souls of our departed dear ones. It could certainly be the beginning of the end of cynical misuse of religious sentiments for grabbing political power. Hopefully the Indian voter will understand that the euphoria of winning through mastered techniques is not enough. Intent and ability to govern and serve for years that follow the high point of triumph is more important; politics, important as it is, cannot displace the need for humane
use of power for humanity. Even in our moments of tribulation there are stony hearts that continue to parrot the taunts of undeserving personality of alternative social-political entities; remind them of a blemished or unsuccessful past. But we can no longer afford to find fault with ourselves or our adversaries. History will be the judge. Today we need to heal and prepare for tomorrow. The pandemic will not only extract a deliberating cost in personal terms but will inflict long term psychological, physiological, economic damage that we will have to deal with.
But before we begin to rebuild our country in terms of its schools, colleges, market places, offices, hospitals, banks, factories, agriculture stations, the media, constitutional institutions, we must first repair the Idea of India. There are people who see us as many different and separate versions of India or indeed even India and the ‘Other’. Although the law to discriminate between citizens in terms of their papers is bad enough but for political movements to myopically truncate India into their narrow vision is an act of desecration of our nationhood and the rich legacy and heritage handed down by our Founding Fathers. The attempt at the virtual disenfranchising of important monitory groups by making their voice irrelevant has fortunately been rebuffed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and even Assam to an extent. The Congress has not only ended up paying a price for now but is also unfairly being looked at with indifference as regional leaders claim greater stature. It is not myopic Congress allegiance but an objective understanding of the country’s situation that makes me believe that in the end the regional resurgence against the BJP will need the Congress nationwide foot print, albeit a bit light for the present, to hold together. The parties that have grown from the common roots of the Congress should have no intrinsic hesitation. These are not the best of times for personal outreach amongst top leaders but hopefully it will begin as the pandemic wanes, as it must. Federalism of necessity as opposed to federalism of convenience must have its day and we of the Congress should provide a sincere lead as our contribution to the next important, historical moment in the growth of Indian democracy fortified by liberal ethos of inclusivity and diversity.