By K Raveendran
Forgetfulness is bliss. Of all faculties, the ability to forget is the basis of human progress, whether for an individual, institution, or a nation. It is the fountainhead of forgiveness, perhaps the greatest of all virtues. And Indians are particularly endowed with it, whether it is due to their obsession with spirituality, passed down from generation to generation, or due to sheer inertia to act differently, euphemistically called tolerance. Nobody knows this as well as prime minister Narendra Modi, who has experienced the sweetness of this virtue time and again.
The memory span of Indians is abysmally short. It is not even 50 days. Otherwise, Modi would have disappeared from the scene a long time ago. Modi had selected his own punishment when he announced his landmark demonetisation decision. ‘Give me 50 days and I will banish to set everything right and if at the end of it if I fail hang me’, he had told the nation in a midnight television address, which all Indians listened to in disbelief. The rest is part of history, but what matters most is that people had forgotten all about it much before the appointed time and day. It is a different matter that they went through hell due to the midnight thoughts of just one person, but they could care less. For, they are great practitioners of forgetfulness and forgiveness, something that has become a way of life for them, thanks to their deeply religious upbringing.
When Covid struck, all that they suffered in the aftermath of demonetisation turned out to be insignificant. Modi’s national lockdown in the name of fighting the pandemic came as abruptly as the midnight demonetisation. The lockdown, which led to the biggest reverse migration in the nation’s history led to one of the biggest dislocations, destroying lives and livelihoods. But the prime minister was unmoved, literally.
Visuals of people rushing their near and dear ones to hospitals, only to be turned away because there were no oxygen beds available, with hundreds breathing their last because they had no oxygen to breath, funeral pyres burning no stop day and night, bodies floating on the Ganga because there were too many of them to be cremated or given a decent burial had become staple diet of television screens across the world.
The scientific community attributed the unprecedented scenes to a failure of the government to handle the situation properly and disregarding the advise of the experts on how to handle one of the biggest crises that the country faced. Global media concluded that there was no sign of a proper government in place in India as the situation worsened by the day. The disastrous third wave had claimed more lives in India than anywhere else in the world. The social media was on fire, putting the entire blame on Narendra Modi because he turned his head away when his attention was required the most. Tags like #ResignModi and #SuperSpreaderModi were trended on trending on social media platforms like never before.
It was widely believed that the dismal performance of the Modi government would mean seeing its back off for ever. The crucial Bengal elections, which the BJP’s social media army projected as a fight between Modi and Mamata and projected as the waterloo of the Bengal tigress, produced entirely different results and Mamata Banerjee seemed to emerge as the nemesis.
As if all this was not enough, the Modi government was forced to go on is knees before the resolute farmers community, which carried on their agitation against all odds and the might of a repressive administration. The government agreed to drop the offending farm bills in their entirety, a demand on which the farmers were never prepared to make a compromise. It was thought that the defeat would find its reflections in the latest round of assembly elections, particularly in Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh, the results of which would be a deciding factor on how the 2024 general elections would be fought.
Despite a few years of unforgettable experiences, for which the Modi government was singularly responsible, the Modi bandwagon is moving ahead as if nothing happened, thanks to the forgetfulness of the Indian people. (IPA Service)