By Sushil Kutty
Narendra Modi wants to win in India. And Donald Trump in the United States. But Xi Jinping wants to conquer the world! With a coronavirus vaccine which, he says, will be for the “global good.” That has set gremlins in several heads in a heightened state of agitation. Those in Trump’s America, which is different from Barack Obama’s United States, the most. For example White House trade adviser Peter Navarro last week charged China with sending “hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York and around the world to seed (the coronavirus).”
And now the “seed” is grown a tree, big and tall but rotten at the core, especially the one in New York. Folks in the continent-size country the other side of the Atlantic are asking, why is it that New York and California are hit worse by corona than “Republican states?” That calls for a conspiracy theory! But will Peter Navarro oblige? Bet not! So while Xi Jinping awaits a vaccine to win over the Covid-19 hit world, the United States is convinced Xi is hiding a horrible secret.
But the USA is not alone in thinking such. There are a bunch of countries which wants to drag China through the corona muck, more or less in agreement that Beijing is responsible for the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, the three lakh plus Covid-19 deaths so far, and, God only knows, how many trillion dollars in damages. And God we all know is not an accountant!
So, while China battles gremlins in tens of thousands of heads, Maharashtra and Mumbai in India are fighting BJP’s hurt pride. With Lockdown 4:0 in place, the BJP wants to cut Hindutva traitor and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to size, insisting that Thackeray cannot shout loud enough to scare the coronavirus away from the state. And to prove that the BJP can shout louder, make a bigger shriller noise, Modi’s men banged kitchen utensils in balconies across the state on the evening of May 22, 30 minutes short of midnight.
Truly, for Modi and the BJP, the world is indeed a stage! As it’s to Xi Jinping. But Xi thinks in term of vaccine and Modi does not forget the potent power of kitchen utensils arrayed in Indian households even if many houses do not have balconies to set up stage for the banging! Xi, who braved chill-pill looks at the World Health Assembly the other day, told the assembled nations there that “the vaccine” will be China’s “contribution” to “developing countries.” And India happens to be a developing country! Among the scores of vaccines in the developing, China has five “candidates” already in the “human trials” stage.
The European Union spoke a similar language of cooperation at the WHA, saying that the world should and will share medicines, shots, diagnostics and technologies in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Seems like in the EU, internal politics has gone underground and in China, by definition, there cannot be any politics to mar order. But not in India! Here there is no compunction to rail and derail “each other” as long as the politician can save his hide with social distancing. Physical distancing from the voter after the vote is cast is the cast-iron trait of the desi politician of all and any hue!
Does the narrow-minded politician know the world has changed and continues to change right before our eyes? For example, over the counter retail sales is on the way to a slow death. And online buyers will far outnumber those queuing up in super and hypermarkets. Amazon is showing the way even as Netflix is hammering Hollywood and Bollywood out of balconies and the box office. The Covid-19 coronavirus is setting new standards and modes of doing commerce, even as it ushers in novel human behavioural patterns.
For example, big-tech is top beneficiary of the changing scenario. Online behemoth Amazon is said to be “aggressively hiring.” Facebook and other social media platforms are witnessing increased “traffic.” And Google and Microsoft are catering to post-Covid “work from home” technological requirements, primarily videoconferencing.
And all this in the midst of pessimism. Tens of thousands are losing jobs and health insurance. The coronavirus has not been conquered or vanquished as yet. There is neither a confirmed cure nor a vaccine. Ergo, people are distrustful of set patterns of the pre-Covid era. It will be impossible for employees to stand and chat at the office water-cooler. And, will washrooms be sanitized after every employee-visit? These are questions that worry content writer X as much as they trouble lead writer Y.
To give everybody an idea about the unfolding changes, the newspaper industry has been hard hit. May 20, a leading newspaper chain gave notice to terminate publication of three of its Kerala editions. Scores of employees were served notice, told they did not have jobs anymore! There were no protests, and no strikes, Kerala’s staple! How could there be, not when there’s a lockdown. Even without Covid-19, media houses were folding print editions and switching full-time to online. The coronavirus pandemic has made it easy for many of them to take the plunge. The days of the working journalist is numbered.
And while we lament for the migrant workers, don’t forget the plight of the urban poor who are not of the ‘migrant’ category. Those rendered unemployed for a variety of factors including that there are too many applicants and very few jobs. The glut is of younger hands, people straight out of college willing to work at much lower salaries. No wonder cities and towns are awash with the middle-aged “retired”, scrounging for whatever pittance is on offer. Imagine how these will fare in a Covid-19 endemic world?
It is for such people that conspiracy theories give relief. Imagine that China already has a Covid-19 vaccine invented and stored in a secret location and when Beijing presents it to the world, Mankind will forever and ever be beholden to the next and only superpower! Bye-bye USA. That’s the power of the conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory transports you to a lovely parallel world, Universe! (IPA Service)