20 June, 2021

The Empire Of Cruelty

The Covid pandemic has brought an acute crisis of legitimacy for the Modi regime—not its first, but certainly its biggest. Where does it stand in terms of performance and popular perception as it completes seven years?

Art: Sanjay Basak
The Empire Of Cruelty

On May 9, Mahavir Narwal, father of Natasha Narwal, a student activist who led the Pinjra Tod ­movement, died of Covid. He could not meet, or talk to, his daughter before he died. She had been in Tihar Jail for over a year, charged under UAPA. If you had to pick any moment that exemplified the character of the Narendra Modi regime, this small story is perhaps as emblematic as any. It is a reminder, in miniature, that the Modi ­government, as it completes its seventh year in power, is presiding over unfathomable scenes of death and suffering. The pandemic’s second wave would ­probably have hit India hard under any ­circumstance. But there is no question that the Modi government’s ­indifference, incompetence and ­callousness has given the empire of death a greater rein than it otherwise might have had. But the story is also emblematic in other ways. A young student activist is in jail charged under anti-terror laws. It is a reminder that the government has converted ­political protest or small transgressions of the law into acts of treason;...

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