The COVID-19 crisis has forced many Indians, particularly activists, to take a good, hard look at the political system prevailing in our country. The rulers have exposed their thoroughly anti-people nature. Much of the resources at the command of the government have not been put to use to save and assist the people, even when it was easily possible to do so. On the contrary, on numerous occasions, workers were brutally attacked or subjected to demeaning treatment. The crisis has indeed been turned into an opportunity by the ruling class. The inhuman callousness of the rulers towards our people, and the total disempowerment of our people has been thoroughly exposed.
When the total lockdown was announced at short notice, literally crores of people were deprived of their earnings. In a short time, innumerable people were driven to starving. And this occurred when the godowns of our country were bursting with food! Starvation deaths would have been multiplied if people in their lakhs had not stepped in and organised food distribution. But there is a limit to what people can do. There is no doubt that an overwhelming majority of people wanted the government to step in and address the problem. It certainly has the means to do so. But this was not done. Even after the belated announcement of free rations, crores of people did not receive food. In this system people have no means to ensure that the government does what crores of people want.
Why were all the public transport services shut down when crores of starving people were desperate to return home? We had a situation when lakhs of train drivers, guards as well as bus drivers and conductors would have been only too happy to enable their brothers and sisters to return to their hometowns and villages. And crores of other Indians would have wanted the people to return home so that they could at least survive. What happened was the opposite of what people wanted. Why did trains go mysteriously to different destinations and take even 8-9 days to reach their actual ones? All this happened because the capitalists wanted the workers to stay where they were so that they could put them to work and exploit them as soon as possible.
The Indian Government spends more on the armed forces than most other countries do. The personnel of the armed forces are well equipped and trained to do a lot of things that crores of people in our country needed. They have personnel from various fields like doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians and craftsmen, cooks, drivers, and so on. They would have been more than willing to serve their compatriots by setting up field hospitals and community kitchens at short notice, by transporting people and by doing whatever else was necessary! But they were not organised to do any of these things!
The decision not to impose the Drug Price Control order was in the interests of the drug companies. People were left to die or be looted. The interests of the pharmaceutical industry and big pathology chains override those of the people, as far as the government is concerned. And the interests of the owners of private hospitals and labs prevailed over those of critically ill patients. Overpricing of tests and hospital treatments went merrily on, leaving a trail of death behind.
Though crude oil prices fell sharply in this period, the Government of India refused to pass on the benefit to the people and raised the prices of petrol and diesel continuously for so many days by raising taxes.
Attacks on workers and farmers continued unabated. Labour laws, environment protection laws were changed to their detriment, to suit the interests of the capitalists.
While lakhs of women and men from all regions, religions and a myriad ideological persuasions worked might and main to come to the aid of the needy people in various ways, at many steps they were hindered rather than helped by the powers that be. The elected so-called representatives were, with a few exceptions, saving their own skin by following social distancing from their constituents!
The COVID-19 crisis exposed the fact that the political system is crying for renewal! Our country is yearning for Navnirman, for a system where the supreme power to take decisions will vest with our people and where everything will be geared to serve their needs.