06 August, 2021

The Seventh Seal

The number seven isn’t proving so auspicious for the regime. Forget critics on the outside, even voices within the BJP are disquieted by the pandemic mishandling…and Modi’s style.

Art: Sanjay Basak
The Seventh Seal

The ancients, across cultures, thought seven denoted perfection. Modern psychologists called it “the magical number”. There are seven colours, seven swaras, seven rishis. But in recent Indian political history, the number hasn’t been all that auspicious. The UPA’s stars were in the ascendant till that year of its reign. And now, as the Narendra Modi epoch completes its own seventh, as the regime surveys the darkened landscape all around, and as the pandemic-hit people of India gaze back at it through ash and smoke, we seem to be in the vicinity of a similar cusp. Not that the government saw it coming—perhaps it wasn’t even looking. On March 7, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan declared victory over Covid-19, saying: “We are in the endgame of the pandemic.” He was taking a cue from the narrative the Prime Minister himself had woven. Other arms of the government duly played choristers. ‘Atmanirbhar’ India, in this telling, was saving the world. Everyone bought into that till, less than a month later, the equation was...

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