In a sharp attack on Indias response to COVID-19 pandemic, Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was making the same mistake of demonetisation albeit at a much larger scale by imposing an ill-planned 21-day lockdown.
Writing an open letter to Mr. Modi, Mr. Haasan compared the adverse effects of the current lockdown to that of demonetisation in terms of its impact on the poor.
My biggest fear is that the same mistake of demonetisation is being repeated albeit at a much bigger scale. While demonetisation led to loss of savings and livelihood of the poorest, this ill-planned lockdown is leading us to a fatal combination of loss of both life and livelihood, said Mr. Haasan.
Mr. Haasan slammed Mr. Modi for ordering an entire nation of 1.4 billion people to shutdown within 4 hours, despite having four months notice as Indias first case was reported on January 30.
Lighting of lamps
Criticising the Prime Ministers last address to the nation, he said that while people were lighting lamps in balconies, poor were left without enough oil for their next roti.
On one hand you are asking the more privileged people to put up a spectacle of lights while on the other hand the poor mans plight is itself becoming a shameful spectacle. While your world lit up oil diyas in their balconies, the poor are struggling to gather enough oil to bake their next roti, said Mr. Haasan, adding, These psychotherapy techniques can address the first world anxiety problems of the haves who have a balcony to cheer. But what about those who dont even have a roof on their heads?
Mr. Haasan added, I am sure you dont want to be a balcony government only for the balcony people by completely ignoring the poor who are biggest constituent of our society, our support system and the foundation on which the middle-class, the well-to-do and the rich build their lives.
He said Mr. Modi was often sliding into his comfort zone of unleashing a spirited election-style campaign idea when there was an opportunity to arrest the slide and underlined that compliance must not be confused as our subjugation.
It seems you are comfortable outsourcing responsible behaviour to the common people and transparency to the State governments, said Mr. Haasan.
He also termed the Prime Ministers response to the crisis as focussing only on warm campaigning, ignoring ground reality.
The focus on merely keeping peoples spirits alive through warm and fuzzy campaigning is probably leading your establishment into ignoring certain actionables that could actually save lives. Long into the epidemic, when the entire countrys law and order system had been primed, your system failed to stop congregations of ignorant and foolish people in different parts of the country, said Mr. Haasan.