Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Controlavirus Economic Reconfiguration And Genocidal Eliminationism In India


opendemocracy |  The only thing we know for sure is that both lockdown and social distancing cannot be applicable in India, if we think of the tens of millions living in the slums. Take for example Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia in the heart of Mumbai: almost one million people in two square kilometers, one toilet for several hundred people, what does quarantine or social distancing mean in such conditions? 

Instead of testing, monitoring, stopping public gatherings and shutting down, say, restaurants and malls, at a time when there were only a few hundred cases, they brought the hammer down on the whole country. They smashed an economy already in a deep crisis and that is now obviously in a massive recession. Hundreds of millions of jobs have been lost. 

The cases are rocketing up, and now number 280,000. As the graph climbs the lockdown has been lifted. Having broken everything, the government has now absolved itself of all responsibility, and is telling us that we have to learn to live with the virus. People who should have been allowed to go home two months ago, are now reaching their villages, carrying the virus with them.  

It is only Modi’s hubris, his unchallenged power and his complete lack of understanding of the country he rules that could have resulted in such a mighty disaster. He is cunning, but unintelligent. That is a dangerous combination. 

Add to all this, the Modi Government’s overt Islamophobia, amplified by a shameless, irresponsible mainstream media – that overtly blamed Muslims for being spreaders of disease. You have whole TV shows dedicated to “COVID jihad” etc... All this came off the back of the unconstitutional dismantling of Kashmir’s special status (leading to a 10 month on-and-off lockdown and internet seige of 6 million people in the Kashmir valley – a mass human rights violation by any standards), the new anti-Muslim citizenship law, and the pogrom against Muslims in North East Delhi in which the Delhi Police were seen actively participating. 

Young Muslims, students and activists are being arrested every day for being “conspirators” in the massacre. While ruling party politicians who actually came out on the streets calling for “traitors” to be shot, remain in positions of power and high visibility. 

You have been criticized for an interview that you gave to Deutsche Welle, in which you describe this rampant Islamophobia as something that could be a prelude to genocide. Can you help us to understand the escalation of this situation?
Yes. I said that the language being used by the mainstream media against Muslims was designed to dehumanise them. To paint an entire community as “corona jihadis” during this pandemic, when there is a pre-existing atmosphere of violence against Muslims is to create a genocidal climate. 
Over the last couple of years we have had so many instances of mob lynchings and George Floyd-type killings – the difference in India being that Hindu vigilante mobs do the killing and the police, the legal system and the political climate help them to get away with it.