By Sushil Kutty
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s use of “precautionary” instead of “booster” for the third Covid-19 vaccination dose spells the man. ‘Precautionary’ unlike ‘booster’ carries a diffident tone. It personifies a kind of hesitation borne out of wariness; perhaps, even inadequacy. While ‘booster’ indicates a quantum jump—‘precautionary’ seeks out a hiding hole to duck into at the first sign of trouble.
Behind the bravado hides cowardice. That is the impression conveyed. Maybe Modi chose “precautionary” because he is by nature ‘guarded’. But that does not define the man who pulled demonetization out of a hat and then expected magic, the equivalent of banging of thalis, not to turn the tables on the ill-planned decision. As it turned out, it wasn’t ‘magic’ but ‘arrogance’ that turned the tables on Modi’s presumptuousness.
Is Modi arrogant? Well, if presumptuous is overstepping boundaries, in other words “taking liberties”, with demonetization, Narendra Modi opted to put at risk the economic well-being of nearly a billion and a quarter. Was it excess self-confidence or arrogance? Remember Modi was accused of not acting fast to quell the 2002 Gujarat riots.
But that was then, this is now. If “presumptuous” is overstepping set boundaries, going beyond right or proper because of too much self-confidence, “arrogant” borders on excessive pride with an element of contempt for others in it. Actually, come to think of it, there appears to be both presumptuousness and arrogance in Modi.
It can, however, be argued that a Prime Minister—any head of state— cannot but be arrogant. And a degree of “presumptuous” or “overconfidence” will be baked into the persona. Modi, it appears, is both—arrogant as well as presumptuous, though Modiacolytes will contest both notions with contempt.
To return to “precautionary” and “booster”, doesn’t it strike anybody that Modi will go to any extent to stand out in a crowd? Remember the suit with his name crawling up and down his spine and not skirting his belly button? That was a display of arrogance unparalleled.
Narendra Modi overstepped and in that he was presumptuous. Later, at the auction of his first term memorabilia, the ‘Modi suit’ fetched a handsome price, but at the time when he sported it—the suit-jacket—the foreign dignitary who was guest of honour must have wondered at the name-crawling! And he must have carried home the incredulity at the strangeness of it.
Media is still trying to decipher what Modi meant by “precautionary”? Some media have called it “euphemism”, but that in itself is “euphemism by another name.” Throw political correctness into the Three Gorges and it is Narendra Modi trying to be himself—a standalone!
The world can characterize the third vaccination dose “booster”, but Narendra Modi will name it “precautionary”—the danger is Modi has taken the urgency and the necessity out of the third dose. Now, it is only precautionary, not a booster, which conveys necessity, which has to be taken come hell or high water.
A precaution does not have an edge to it, and some if not all people have the option to throw caution to the winds and go any which way they want to. Precautionary is even less than caution—there is a half-heartedness in precautionary. And it spells no punishment; in the sense that it is take it or leave it, you may or may not face punitive action.
Narendra Modi tried to educate people on his decision to allow those over 60 with comorbidities to take the “precautionary dose” along with front-line healthcare workers—as also children of a certain age group. But why should others who had taken two doses be left out, would God Almighty or Modi protect them? Even otherwise, isn’t it fact Omicron felled even those who had taken two vaccine doses? Mind you the potency of those two doses are long gone.
The point is, Omicron is a dicey character. There is no knowing what it is gonna turn into, or do. Does Modi know that Omicron has got his pal France President Emmanuel Macron a tizzy of a jam? Friday, on Christmas Eve, Omicron delivered to France 100,000 in daily Covid cases, and Macron is lost for words.
The United Kingdom is already in that phase, and in the United States, where Omicron has started killing, there is panic setting in. In the prison island of Rikers, inmates are testing positive like negative never was an answer!
It looks like the arrogance of Omicron dwarfs even that of Narendra Modi. Reports say India on December 26 had nearly 7000 new Covid cases with 162 deaths. Total cases so far had crossed 32 million and total fatalities to over 479,000. The numbers worldwide were 279.84 million cases and 5.41 million deaths. Vaccination in India: 1,413,772,425 doses. Worldwide: Over 8.94 billion doses.
Another thing—for Modi it is always Vasudeva Kutumbakam-first. Modi has his eyes set on the world, watch where his precautionary doses go and there will be no doubts left that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is aiming for the ‘Vishwa Guru’ title to add to the one India got when Chandigarh girl Harnaaz Gill delivered Miss Universe. and Omicron is waiting for assembly elections to be announced to go whole hog! (IPA Service)