May 24, 2021 –
Why are most people in urban and rural India skeptical about the existence, nature, or origins of the coronavirus? Why do they mistrust the vaccines – whether developed in India or not? Because for most working people the people in power (“bade log”), whoever they may be, do not have their interests in mind, most have little understanding of the forces that seem to govern their life – from decisions about livelihood, health, education and even death.
The talk of the whole covid catastrophe in India being the result of increasing sins (“paap”) in the world is also common. When I asked a woman what they mean by “paap” she responded by saying that it is the increasing selfishness, diminishing human decency in society – “just look at how dead bodies of covid casualties are being treated.” Some people might reply differently but the feeling that “we have changed for the worse” is pretty common and with little effort can evoke a sense of longing for a mythic “better past and tradition” that is lost. A sense of alienation and powerlessness combined with mistrust of social forces and corrupted people is the ideal ground for the seeds of power worship to grow. They are just waiting for a messiah to appear, convince them it’s their interest he or she represents and they will surrender.
These people are a victim of neoliberalism and the shrinking possibility of even a mediocre life. Most young people of my generation who grew up in a middle-class have fallen out of it and almost half of them are unemployed. This is why in the opinion polls globally the so-called right-winger supporters usually favor progressive economic policies. That’s why parties fight elections on “cultural” and”identity” issues almost exclusively.
The question more important now is will the working class continue to support BJP (again, to whatever extent it does) even after BJP demonstrated that it is one of the worse party and government in the world when it comes to dealing with any sort of crisis and has no interest in poor people’s lives? I think the answer (quite obviously) is: Yes if the majority of the working people do not find a real alternative that can show it cares about its interests – including economic interests. Only a campaign for economic justice that speaks to the needs and aspirations of the masses can defeat BJP.