Why are we helpless in the face of this pandemic?

May 18, 2021

Rohit Dhankar

I don’t have all the data and needed information. But whatever information I get through newspapers and social media, I seem to be making forming beliefs, mostly with help from some speculation. Just wanted to share some of those half-formed beliefs, in order to prevent serious mistake through public scrutiny.

This is well recognized that we know much less about the pandemic than is needed to contain or stop it. But that is the character of pandemics and calamities, it cannot be sighted as a ‘reason why’ for helplessness. Containing a pandemic simply means containing an unknown evil.

The first and foremost reason is the ineptness, inefficiency and wrong priorities of the central government, and state governments as well. And that is irrespective of which party is in power. This is natural for the citizens to apportion the largest share of the blame on the central government, and that is justified at the moment. The central government is the biggest culprit.

The second reason to my mind is the abysmal state of our health and all other governing systems. In normal times all government systems function more on tokenism and pretension than actually realizing the professed goals. The work is done mostly on the paper, and the real world remains as it was. That has been the character of government departments. Then they suddenly want to start serious real work when the calamity hits them. And, as is natural, everything collapses. The present central government is in power for more than 6 years and was expected by many people to change this character at the least of the central government departments. It completely failed in doing it. One wonders if they ever wanted to make them better functioning.

The third reason, we are a divided country and society. We are not putting all efforts for defeat the pandemic, simply because we first want to defeat a hated man, who is the prime minister. There is a ring in the air from some quarters, particularly on the social media, that the worst the situation, more the opportunity to heap abuse on Modi and BJP, irrespective of the cost to people. Some people will object to it. But there are too many people who are attacking it for everything for justified and unjustified reasons, and attacking viciously. Using completely unjustified terminologies like ‘deliberate genocide’ etc. to poison public mind. Another set of people is continuously defending government irrespective of its failure, however big its blunders might be. Neither of these sets is using their energy to help the society in containing the pandemic. The opposition is much more interested in ‘Modi should go’ than putting the issue on the back burner and fighting the problem for the time being. The opinion makers and intellectuals—supposed to be the conscience keeper of the society—are the worst afflicted by this morally crippling intellectual disease. Most of them seem to be incurable by now.

Fourth, we as a society lack civic responsibility. Many still don’t get it that preventive precautions in a pandemic is not entirely a personal choice. It has a selfish side of personal safely and survival. But also has a moral side of not becoming a danger to others. Behaviour of many people in public spaces is proof enough that the second aspect has not registered in the social consciousness yet.  

Above I said that the government is the biggest culprit because in a democracy the government is also responsible for all the other problems in the society. Improving the system, taking the opinion making intellectuals along and developing civic responsibility are also government’s responsibilities, up to a certain extent. However, there always be some people in the society who will act on the evil thought that “my enemy should definitely become blind even if I have to lose one eye in the bargain”. The government’s responsibility for such people is double edged. One, it should try to bring them to reason through persuasion. It they are too bent upon this evil idea; they should be exposed to the public. Here a war of perception may be necessary. If a government fails in both then it has only itself to blame, and the common citizen bears the burnt of its failure.

And at the end, a small story from black rustic humour, even if it is somewhat inappropriate in such a situation. In Hindi, don’t want to translate it into English.

दो जाट (जाटों से माफी चाहते हुए) भाइयों में बहुत प्रतिस्पर्धा और झगड़ा चल रहा था। दोनों ही बहुत धनवान नहीं थे। किसी कारण से एक के पास शिव आए। (क्यों आए थे कहानी में मैं भूल गया हूँ।) शिव ने जाट से कहा की तुम तीन वरदान मांग सकते हो। जो कुछ भी तुम चाहो। पर शर्त यह है कि तुम्हारे भाई को जो तुम अपने लिए मांगोगे उस से दुगुना मिलेगा। जाट मान गया, और नीचे लिखे तीन वरदान मांगे:

  1. “भगवन, मेरे लिए एक बड़ा-सा महल बनादे, जिसके चारों और बहुत ऊंची दीवार हो और उस में सिर्फ एक फाटक हो।” (शिव ने तुरंत ऐसा ही महल उसे के लिए बना दिया, पर उसके भाई के लिए दो बना दीते।)
  2. “भगवन, मेरे महल के फाटक में एक 400 फीट गहरा कुआं खोद दे।” (शिव ने तुरंत उसके फाटक को पूरा कवर कराते हुए एक कुआं खोद दिया। पर उसके भाई के दोनों महलों के फाटकों में दो-दो खोद दिये।)
  3. आखिर में जाट ने कहा, “भगवन, मेरी एक आँख फोड़ दे।” (शिव ने तुरंत जाट की एक आँख फोड़ दी, पर उसके भाई की दोनों ही फोड़ दी।)

Rest of the story depends on your imagination. But look around you if you find many of us being governed by this kind of Jaat-buddhi.

(I gain apologize to Jaats. I have neither any malice towards them, not do I think that they have this kind of buddhi. Here I retained the caste name as I have heard this story or joke originally simply because it seems to me that a better way to grow beyond casteism etc. is without attempting to exorcise our literature of its time-stamps. We have to rationally grow out of the biases without wiping out signs of historical wrongs, as they also record our history of moral and intellectual development as a society.)


18th May 2021

Fighting COVID-19

April 13, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

This is clear by now that the country needs to do a lot if it wants to eradicate coronavirus. Medical equipment necessary for prevention and cure is needed in huge qualities, capability of health care system needs to be enhanced, protection measures for health workers need to be strengthened, number of tests need to be increased, so on and so forth. But the main thrust presently is on lockdown and social distancing. Initially the print media showed some suspicion of lockdown and seemed to indicate usual fragmentation in the society on almost all measures taken by the government. However, slowly the realisation seems to have dawned that this might be a necessary evil, and therefore, a socially united effort is essential to make it successful.

Since social distancing and lockdown to facilitate it is seen as the main method of fighting COVID19 in India, success of these measures become crucial for the society. In this situation cases of violation of lockdown guidelines jeopardise public health and even life. As Prof. Jean Dreze says in his piece in The Hindu on 23rd March 2020, risking one’s own health or life is a smaller consideration in these precautions; the larger consideration is being cautious about not causing harm to others, even unintentionally. From this point of view violations of lockdown guidelines are anti-social acts. However, lumping all cases of such violations together in one category and treating them similarly is neither just nor can it be used to improve efficiency of this measure. The cases of violations have to be understood in the context and in terms of intentions/ motivations. Without such differentiation treating all cases alike would be unjust to many people and effective ways of reducing such incidents can not be devised. This is the job of experts who have all the information and understand social psychology. Below I am sharing my common sense views in categorisation, legal and moral sanctions and measures that should be taken to prevent them.

In my view the incidents of lockdown violations can be classified in the following four categories:

  1. Arising out of necessity
  2. Due to selfishness and arrogance
  3. Due to ignorance and negligence
  4. Due to deliberate religious reasons


  1. Arising out of necessity

A very disturbing and difficult to prevent example of this kind of cases is the movement of migrant labourers. They are not the culprits but victims in spite of their movement being in violation of the lockdown. Most of them had or have no choice. Lack of place to say in, unavailability of amenities and money, facing hunger, etc. forced them to start moving. This clearly was an oversite on the part of the central and state governments. And even now the arrangements made for this group of people are perhaps not adequate to prevent all incidents of violation of lockdown due to necessity. In my view most of the violations by homeless people in cities also fall under this category.

Other case arising out of necessity could be related with medical emergency, unavailability of food and water in the people’s houses or some other unavoidable and unbearable conditions.

All these cases can not properly be said to be of wilful violation. It seems to me that they should not attract any legal or moral sanctions. Rather they should be considered cases to be helped. Provisions of food, water, medical care and other necessities should be organised to prevent cases of violation of this nature.

  1. Due to selfishness and arrogance

There have been many cases of violation of lockdown which can only be seen as arising out of selfishness and/or arrogance of people. Examples of such cases would be people fighting with security personnel to bring their household helps in the building, politicians celebrating birthdays (Karnataka MLA, BJP), political parties having victory meetings (Madhya Pradesh, BJP), political parties celebrating their foundation day (Karnataka, BJP), people bringing in household helps surreptitiously, deliberately roaming on the roads and picking up fight with police when they want them to remain in their homes, and so on.

All such cases should be severely condemned by the society and appropriate legal action should be taken quickly and with complete transparency.

  1. Due to ignorance and negligence

There may be any cases of people just inadvertently or in ignorance violate lockdown. Some of them may not have information and some others may be somewhat negligent. Such cases are likely to involve only individuals, and therefore, may not have big impact, however, that is by no means certain.

This kind of cases can be prevented only throw greater awareness. Ignorance may attract legal punishment but not moral sanction. Negligence attracts both.

  1. Due to deliberate religious reasons

Most of the cases of violation of lockdown and government orders fall under this category. They are not only most numerous, they also involve largest gatherings, and most persistent disregard for social safety. Some of the cases which immediately come in the mind are a Rath Yatra in Maharashtra, Yogi Adityanath moving Ram statue, two Telangana Ministers performing pooja in temples, Ramanavami gathering in Bengal, continued gathering for namaz (especially Friday) in Mosques, a gathering in a Jain temple, people having a dip in Golden Temple sarovar, and of course the most famous Tabilighi Jamaat event. There is unconfirmed news of many more such cases. The cases of attacks on police and health workers visiting certain localities also have been motivated, as per the unconfirmed news, by religious considerations. The latest in Punjab where a Nihang cut off hand of a police personnel; the most arrogant, fierce and gruesome so fat.

These cases are presenting and will continue to present the toughest challenge to the government. Most of them are adamant and think that religion is above the law. To my mind they need the most severe legal punishment and social condemnation. Unfortunately, the society is most fragmented on such cases. If you mention Rath Yatra or Ramavanami gathering some people will site Jamaat incident to defend them. If you mention the Jamaat some other people will site Rath Yatra to defend them. They use the crimes of others to seek immunity from legal action to commits of their own. They don’t site the other’s crime to punish him as well. Some other people even use case of the first three kinds to defend the fourth kind. This is gross stupidity to site a case of unavoidable necessity (migrant labourers) to justify a case of religious arrogance and violation.

The governments have to improve supplies of food and other necessary amenities to reduce the number of cases of first kind, and step up awareness programmes for the cases of third kind. The cases of second and fourth kind need very stern and prompt legal action against those who are found responsible. Leniency because of connections with powerful politicians or due to considerations for religions will encourage these people.


13th April 2020







Religions are the best friends of COVID-19

April 5, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

The central and UP governments still seem to be far away from tacking the problem of migrant workers. Obviously there have been a series of kneejerk responses to the problem right from the beginning. The different responses from providing buses, to freeze where the pedestrian travellers were, to providing shelters, everywhere there seem to be lacunas and loopholes. May be the governments are making their best efforts, but the magnitude of the problem is such that they are not able to cope. Or may be they are making half hearted efforts so are leaving loopholes.

Some unconfirmed and/or incomplete news regarding Gujarat government arranging buses for 2000 pilgrims stuck in Uttara Khand and foreign tourist being taken in buses during the lockdown have also been circulating. These news items, if true in the form they are circulated in social media, certainly show differential treatment mated out by the government to different sections of people. And that is not reassuring in the present times. All these problems and many more are there.

This article, however, is about contribution of religion to spread of coronavirus. If one discounts the people generally dubbed as “bhaktas”, “IT cell members” and “Right Wingers”, all other Indians seem to be denouncing attempts to “communalise” or making a “Hindu-Muslim” issue or “associating corona spread with any particular religion”. All seem to be unanimous in this. And it sounds the right way to look at the situation as well. COVID-19 is equally dangerous to all, what ever crime the Jamaat committed there are no grounds for assuming that all Islam supports it, nor for holding every individual Muslim as responsible. Actually, no sane person is thinking or saying that every individual Muslim is responsible for it. Many Muslims have actually condemned the acts in harshest terms in print and electronic media. So, certainly every Muslim can not be seen as responsible for this.

But, have religions played a significant role in spreading the virus in South-East Asia? An article in the Wall Street Journal says they have[1]. It gives facts and figures to support the claim that “from Malaysia to Iran, faith groups and pilgrims have emerged as risks, transmitting the disease in ways that are proving difficult to trace and contain.” Tablighi Jamaat figures in a big way in connection with Indonesia, Malesia and Pakistan. Churches in connection with Singapore and South Korea. It does not have anything on India, though by now Delhi Markaz even is known to have links with a similar event in Indonesia.

Therefore, asking “whether religions resist more to closing down congregations than other non-religious congregations?” seems to be a legitimate question in present times. If one goes by the example of stone pelting in Ratha Yatra at Akkalkot, two Telangana ministers offering pooja on Rama Navami, Yogi Adityanath participating in shifting of Rama statue, Karnataka state government permitting 4-5 priests to celebrate Kharaga festival in side the temple, etc. and perhaps numerous others, then one has to come to the conclusion that religious gatherings are relatively more difficult to control.

In have absolutely no hesitation in saying that in all the incidents mentioned in the last paragraph Hinduism is a significant, may be the most significant, factor. There is no way of escaping the conclusion that all these acts are motivated by the desire to fulfil some or other supposed to be religious obligation as per Hindu belief system(s) and practices. The motivation to undertake these acts, desire to ignore the social distance orders, anger for stone pelting in one case, and seeking and granting permission to celebrate festival; all are based on the Hindu belief system(s) and practices connected with these occasions. If one argues that these incidents are not connected with Hinduism, it does not make sense at all. Therefore, all these incidents have to be understood as motivated by Hinduism, and at the minimum, Hinduism is a very significant factor in all these.

Is this conclusion communalising the issue? First lets see what is communalism. Mild communalism, put simply, is “loyalty and commitment to the interests of your own group (Ex. ethnic or religious) rather than to society as a whole”. Rabid communalism would be “loyalty and commitment to your own group, even in situations it might harm the whole society or other particular groups”. Now suppose a citizen of India, X, who happens to be a Muslim, comes to the above-mentioned conclusion after looking at the facts of these incidents that beliefs and practices generally associated with Hinduism are a significant or the central motivating factor in all of them. Is X being communal? In what sense? He is stating a logical conclusion, we do not know his real motive, his facts cannot be denied. There is no obvious benefit to his community in this. Aren’t those, who blame him of communalism, being communal? A counter argument could be: that the Hindus who call X communal are actually trying to save the image of their own community, in the face of possible danger to the whole society, and therefore, showing commitment to their own group even in the face of harm to the whole society. Therefore, the Hindus who call X communal are themselves behaving in a communal manner.

Hinduism recently has received a very bad press nationally and internationally, and almost every so-called Indian liberal is attacking Hinduism for almost everything that goes wrong in our country. Does this situation, Hinduism receiving a bad press presently, makes pointing out something reasonably true anti-Hindu or communal? I don’t see any rational grounds to come to that conclusion. Therefore, to me stating that “all the above-mentioned incidents have to be understood as motivated by Hinduism, and at the minimum, Hinduism is a very significant factor in all these” is neither anti-Hindu nor communal. It is simply a statement of the case as it is. Period.

Next, is X, in stating as said above, making it a Hindu-Muslim issue? Again, in this simple statement I see nothing of Hindu-Muslim issue. Suppose Mr. X is analysing overall impact of all such religion incidents on the coronavirus spread in India. And suppose further, that he comes to the conclusion that there are many more incidents of this nature related to Hinduism than they are related to Islam. And he says that openly. Is he making a Hindu-Muslim issue out of it? I find it hard to accept that. He is simply comparing the incidents, and this understanding might be useful in preparing the future course of action. Thus, as long as his facts are correct and his reasoning is valid, sharing publicly the results of his analysis is neither communal, nor anti-Hindu, nor is he making a Hindu-Muslim issue out of it.

Hindus may like or dislike it, but Asharam, Rampal, Nityanand, etc. all are products of Hinduism. They became influential and could dupe people because there are certain systems of beliefs, practices and rituals which they could use for their own purposes. It could be argued that they did not follow the philosophy and spiritual thought of Hinduism. Similarly, the stone pelting in Akkalkot Rath yatra and other incidents mentioned above are not supported by the philosophy of Hinduism. But a religion is not just its philosophy. It is, as said above, a complex system of beliefs, preachers, believers, social structures, rituals and practices. And all these people draw from the history, mythology, theology, philosophy (even if distorted) and practices of Hinduism. They also shape modern Hinduism. And it does not matter whether you like it or not as long as they have millions of followers who think of themselves as Hindus, they are products of Hinduism. Saying all this, even by a non-Hindu, is not communal and not anti-Hindu. It is just the statement of views that person has formed on the basis of some facts and reasoning.

Is Tablighi Jamaat issue being communalised if some one states that 33% cases till date are connected with its event in Delhi?

From this point of view; noting, stating and arguing that in aggression, in being adamant, in terms of scale and in terms of bold public theological support to continuing congregation come-what-may, Tabligi Jamaat takes the cake. The facts are available to all to check and see. Also, there are several Imams all over the world proclaiming that Allah’s azaab comes because of deviating from the true Islam and coronavirus can not harm believers. In face of all this it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Islamic thought and hadith is liberally used in support of continuing congregations, and instigating people to violate public safety measures. This is the most dangerous aspect of Jamaat incident: it gives elaborate religious justification for endangering oneself, one’s community and the whole society; and declares is pious. I have not seen any such religious justification from any religious leader, other than Islamic scholars. It has to be countered, and to counter it has to be admitted and understood.

In saying so no one is saying that every Islamic scholar supports this view. Actually not. Several Islamic scholars have denounced this view and have said that this is not the ‘true interpretation of Islam’. That however, is neither here not there. As the Maulanas who preach this view call it the real Islam and the counter view is seen as not true Islam; and they also have millions of followers. We do not know; we cannot know the true essence of any religion be that Hinduism or Islam; simply because there is no such thing as true essence of any religion. Religions, be that Hinduism or Islam, are very adept at wriggling out of responsibility of obnoxious acts committed in their name, simply by saying that this is not according to the true meaning of this religion. Personally, I don’t think religious thought can be absolved of the responsibility of such interpretations.

Therefore, the repeated charges of communalising, anti-Muslims and making Hindu-Muslim issue on everyone who states that Tablighi Jamaat has contributed heavily to the spread of coronavirus is hiding behind a smoke screen and avoiding the truth. A problem when ignored, does not go away, it becomes bigger and more harmful.

However, that does not mean that all Islamic thought supports it, nor does it mean that every Muslim supports it or is responsible for it. Those who claim that all Islamic thought supports it and all Muslims are responsible are making false charges against Islam and Muslims, and thus, communalising. But claiming that Jamaat is centrally responsible and the power of Jamaat is drawn from Islamic theology and practices is the truth and has to be stated as it is. Branding impartial truth as communal is a communal act.

The charge that the Tablighi Jamaat is being unfairly selected may be true for some TRP hunting TV channels, but is not generally true. The repeated occurrence of obduracy of Jamaat members, the magnitude of the act, the arrogant defence and defiance eclipse all other such acts, that’s why it figures more in the conversations and discussions. All other acts of this nature by all religions are equally criticised, the debate on them dies quickly because no one comes forward for an unjustified defence for them. When a determined argument savvy group tries to justify unjustifiable in their intellectual arrogance, debate prolongs and truth gets repeatedly underlined.

[Listens to part of the Maulana’s one long bayan here. It takes patience and keen listening abilities to get the force and purport of the lecture.]


5th April 2020

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-is-spreading-at-religious-gatherings-ricocheting-across-nations-11584548174?mod=e2fb&fbclid=IwAR1aptUXsh2rWpvRr0BlelmksiV833WVH0oat7fhLXAdiOYwoqPpb3SBBV0

इन्हें नियंत्रित करना जरूरी है

March 27, 2020

रोहित धनकर

कोविड-19 की मार को कम करने के लिए लागू लोकडाउन के पहले ही दो दिन में कई गैरजिम्मेदाराना घटनाएँ हुई हैं। उन में से कुछ पर छोटी टिप्पणिया हैं इस आलेख में। हमें इस महामारी से पार पाना है तो समूहिक रूप से जागरूक प्रयत्न करने होंगे। और उन प्रयत्नों में बाधा डालने वालों की निंदा भी करनी होगी और उन्हें नियंत्रित भी करना होगा।

एक गैरजिम्मेदार धर्मांध मुख्यमंत्री

प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्द्र मोदी और सारे स्वस्थय संस्थानों ने बार-बार अपने घरों में रहने और एक-दूसरे से दूरी बनाए रखने की सलाह दी है। पूरे देश में लोकडाउन घोषित है। लोकडाउन के दिशानिर्देशों की अनुपालना ना करने वालों को आपदा प्रबंधन अधिनियम 2005 की धारा 51 से 60; और भारतीय दंड संहिता की चारा 188 के अनुसार दंडित करने का प्रावधान है। सारे देश के लोगों को विभिन्न कठिनाइयों के बावजूद घर के अंदर रहने और सामाजिक-दूरी (social distancing) बनाए रखने का कड़ाई से पालन करने की हिदायतें केंद्र और राज्य सरकारों ने दी हैं। लोकडाउन दिशानिर्देश क्रम 9 के अनुसार “सभी उपासना स्थल जनता के लिए बंद रहेंगे। बिना किसी अपवाद के किसी भी धार्मिक सम्मेलन की अनुमति नहीं दी जाएगी।”

इस  पृष्ठभूमि में 26 मार्च 2020 के द हिन्दू की खबर के अनुसार उत्तर प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री योगी श्री आदित्यनाथ ने राम की मूर्ती को एक स्थान से हटा कर दूसरे स्थान पर स्थापित करने के लिए लोगों के समूह को एकत्रित किया, इस समूह में:

  • अयोध्या के मजिस्ट्रेट थे,
  • जिले के पुलिस अधीक्षक थे,
  • अतिरिक्त गृहसचिव उत्तर प्रदेश थे, और
  • यहाँ श्री आदित्यनाथ ने 11 करोड़ रुपये का चेक भी भेंट किया।

इस में सब से पहले तो मुख्यमंत्री ने सरकार की घोषणा की अवमानना की। अर्थात धार्मिक कार्यक्रम वे स्वयं तो आयोजित कर सकते हैं पर दूसरे नहीं कर सकते। ये अवमानना वे अकेले नहीं पूरे सरकारी लवाजमें के साथ करके यह बता रहे हैं की कानून और दिशानिर्देश उनके लिए नहीं, केवल औरों के लिए हैं।

द हिन्दू की खबर पढ़ने से यह साफ नहीं होता की 11 करोड़ रूपए उन्होने सरकारी खजाने से दिये या अपने व्यक्तिगत धन में से? पर चेक देना और मूर्ती को स्वयं लेकर चलना क्या एक मुख्यमंत्री के लिए उपयुक्त है? वे अपने निजी धार्मिक विश्वासों में ये सब कर सकते हैं, पर इस आयोजन में तो उन्होने ये सब एक चुने हुए मुख्यमंत्री के रूप में किया। मेरे विचार से यह धर्मनिरपेक्षता के सिद्धान्त के विरुद्ध है। वे दीपावली पर सरकारी धन से अयोध्या में लाखों दिये भी जलवा चुके हैं। उनके ये सब काम जहां तक मेरी समझ है संविधान और पंथनिरपेक्षता के विरुद्ध हैं। वैसे भी उनके बहुत से भाषण विडियो उपलब्ध है जो उन्हें नितांत धर्मांध व्यक्ति साबित कराते हैं।

इस सब के बाद वे लोगों को यह सलाह भी देते हैं की अन्य लोग अपनी पूजा आदि घर में ही करें। वे यह भूल गए की गुड़ खाने वाला बाबा दूसरों को गुड़ न खाने की सीख नहीं दे सकता। उनके इस व्यवहार का न कोई स्पस्टिकरण देखने में आया, ना ही केंद्र सरकार की तरफ से कोई वक्तव्य मैंने देखा। प्रधानमंत्री की अपनी पार्टी के मुख्यमंत्री के उनकी हिदायतों की अवमानना करने पर दूसरों के लिए उनका क्या नैतिक महत्व रह जाता है?

यहाँ  मैं यह साफ करना चाहूँगा की किसी मुख्यमंत्री के गैर जिम्मेदाराना व्यवहार को बहाना बना कर हम लोग उसी तरह की गैर ज़िम्मेदारी नहीं कर सकते। उन के व्यवहार की निंदा और आलोचना का अर्थ यह नहीं है की वही निंदनीय व्यवहार दूसरे भी करने लगें। मैंने ऊपर हिदायतों के “नैतिक महत्व” पर टिप्पणी की है, कानूनी महत्व पर नहीं। साथ ही जो लोग समाज के प्रति जागरूक हैं और उसके भले के लिए प्रतिबद्ध हैं, इन के लिए नैतिक महत्व काम के औचित्य से आता है, किसी अंतर-विरोधी व्यवहार करने वाले मुख्यमंत्री से नहीं।

कुछ गैरजिम्मेदार कथित बौद्धिक

अब यह आम तौर पर माना जाने लगा है कि सामाजिक-माध्यम (social media) जन-मानस को प्रभावित करने वाला शायद सब से बड़ा कारक बन गया है। मुद्रित समाचार पत्रों और पत्रिकाओं का प्रचार भी अब सामाजिक-माध्यमों से ही होने लगा है। इनमें कुछ माध्यमों—जैसे ट्वीटर, फ़ेसबुक और कुछ व्हाट्सअप्प समूह, आदि—को देखने से लगता है अपने आप को प्रबुद्ध मानने वाले कोई लोग इस संकट की घड़ी में बहुत गैरजिम्मेदाराना व्यवहार कर रहे हैं। एक उदाहरण ले कर बात को समझते हैं।

एक महामारी से बचने के लिए पूरे देश में लोकडाउन की घोषणा हुई है। इसकी सफलता के लिए  राज्य सरकारें और अब केंद्र सरकार भी बहुत कोशिशें कर रही है। लोकडाउन को महामारी की रोकथाम के लिए उपलब्ध जानकारी के अनुसार एक बेहतर उपाय माना जा रहा है। यह मानना सरकार में बैठे किसी आत्म-मुग्ध हाकिम का नहीं, बल्कि भारतीय और वैश्विक स्वस्थय संगठनों का है। अर्थात इस विषय पर जिनके पास सर्वाधिक आधिकारिक जानकारी हो सकती है, उन निकायों की लोकडाउन के लिए सहमती ही नहीं, अनुषंशा भी है।

अब मान लीजिए कि मैं न तो इसको कारगर उपाय मानता हूँ, नाही इस से सहमत हूँ। और मैंने एक प्रबुद्ध नागरिक होने (या अपने आपको ऐसा मनाने के कारण) कुछ पढ़ा है जिस से मेरा यह मत बना है। तो क्या मुझे अपने मत की अभिव्यक्ती इस तरह से करनी चाहिए कि लोग सामाजिक-दूरी के दिशानिर्देशों को हल्के में लेने लगें, उनको मानने में ढिलाई बरतने लगें?

यहाँ मैं अपने विचारों की भिव्यक्ती पर रोक लगाने या झिझकने की बात नहीं कर रहा हूँ। पर उनको कैसे अभिव्यक्त करें इस पर ज़ोर दे रहा हूँ। मैंने योगेंद्र यादव का एक ट्वीट देखा जो जिम्मेदार अभिव्यक्ती का उदाहरण लगा मुझे। उन्होने कुछ ऐसा कहा: कि वे मानते हैं ही लोगों की मदद की व्यवस्था में कमियाँ हैं, वे यह भी मानते हैं कि लोकडाउन पर विशेषज्ञों के दो मत हैं। पर यह जानते हुए भी लोकडाउन का पूरी तरह से पालन करने की सलाह देते हैं। और इसे हम सब की ज़िम्मेदारी बताते हैं। इसमें वे अपने विचारों को बिना छुपाए महामारी की रोक-थाम में सम्पूर्ण सहयोग के लिए प्रतिबद्धता दिखा रहे हैं।

यदि किसी के पास इस उपाय के उनुपयुक्त होने के बहुत ही पक्के और पूर्ण सबूत हैं तो भी उस में इतनी विनम्रता तो होनी चाहिए कि (1) स्वस्थय संगठनों के मत के महत्व को भी समझे, और (2) यह याद रखे कि वैज्ञानिक ज्ञान में—अपने स्वयं के भी—गलत होने की गुंजाइश सदा रहती है। इसे “fallibility” कहते हैं। अतः महामारी से पार पाने के उपायों को अपने मत की सम्पूर्ण सत्यता के घमंड में कमजोर न करे।

कुछ गैरजिम्मेदार आम लोग

पिछले दो दिनों में बहुत से आम लोग भी बाहर आते-जाते-घूमते देखे गए हैं। शायद इन को कई समूहों में बांटा जा सकता है। एक प्रयास नीचे दिया है:

  • जिनके लिए घर से निकालना जरूरी होगया, दावा-दारू, भोजन या कोई अन्य निहायत ही आवश्यक चीज के लिए।
  • बिना किसी विशेष कारण के।
  • किसी धार्मिक या राजनैतिक मान्यता/उपक्रम को लोकडाउन की पालना से अधिक महत्वपूर्ण मानना।

कुछ ऐसी घटनाएँ हुई हैं जब उपरोक्त (अ) समूह के लोगों को पुलिस के हाथों कठिनाई उठानी पड़ी या किसी पुलिसवाले ने बदतमीजी की या पीट दिया। यह बहुत गलत है। कोई तरीका होना चाहिए लोगों की मजबूरी को समझने का, और पुलिस को ऐसी परिस्थिति में निर्देशों की अनुपालना के साथ संवेदनशील भी होना चाहिए। सही या गलत, मैं यह भी मानता हूँ कि पुलिस अधिकतर ऐसे मामलों में संवेदनशील रहती है। पर सामाजिक-माध्यमों पर छाया सक्रिय तबका ऐसे मामलों में पुलिस को पूरा खलनायक दिखाने की कोशिश करता है। ऐसी कुछ घटनाओं को ही समान्यकृत करके उसे पुलिस का आम व्यवहार करार देदेता है। मैं नहीं कह रहा कि जहां पुलिस की गलती है, उसने ज्यादती की है, उसकी निंदा न करें, उसे दंड देने के लिए ना कहें या उस की अनदेखी कर दें। बस इतना कि इन कुछ घटनाओं के आधार पर पुलिस के आम चरित्र और व्यवहार को इसी रंग में ना रंगें। पुलिस को भी बहुत से आत्ममुग्ध लोगों के कारण बहुत कठिनाइयां झेलनी पड़ रही हैं।

पुलिस को खलनायक बना देने की बहुत बड़ी समस्या यह होगी की समूह (आ) और (इ) वाले लोग अपनी जन-विरोधी हरकतों को छुपाने के लिए पुलिस की इस छवि का सहारा लेंगे। समूह (आ) में अधिकतर अपने आप को बहुत कुछ समझने वाले बदतमीज मध्यमवर्गीय लोग होते हैं। जो एक गरीब पुलिस के सिपाही के सामने अकड़ दिखा कर अपने आप को बहुत शक्तिशाली समझने लगते हैं। ऐसे लोगों को कानून के मुताबिक शख्त सजा मिलनी चाहिए।

इस में तीसरा, (इ) समूह, बड़ी परेशानी करता रहा है अभी तक। इस समूह में बाहर निकालने का कारण न तो जरूरत होती है, ना ही व्यक्तिगत अकड़। यह एक सैद्धान्तिक, धार्मिक, और राजनैतिक मसाला होता है। इसका एक उदाहरण ऊपर योगी आदित्यनाथ के व्यवहार में देख चुके हैं हम। मेरा अपना मानना है की इस समूह के लोगों के साथ बहुत कड़ाई से पेश आने की जरूरत है।

मैंने इस के जितने उदाहरण देखे हैं (इंटरनेट पर, सामाजिक माध्यमों पर) उन में, साफ कहूँ तो, हिन्दू-धर्म के आधार कर ऐसी सामूहिक-अकड़ और सामाजिक-शत्रुता की सिर्फ एक घटना देखी है। वही योगी वाली, और उसकी बहुत लोगों ने निंदा की है। मेरा मानना है उसे दंड भी मिलना चाहिए। आप हिंदुओं के ऐसे क्रियाकलाप जानते हैं तो कृपया सप्रमाण मुझे भी भेजें। सिख, ईसाई, जैन और फारसी धर्मों को मानने वालों के ऐसे कोई वक्तव्य या क्रियाकलाप मेरे देखने में नहीं आए। पर मुसलमान मौलवियों और आम-जन के ऐसे कथन और क्रियाकलाप दर्जनों में हैं।[1] कई बार आम सरीफ़ इंसान कह रहे हैं कि इनके लिए उनका धर्म ही सर्वोपरी है, कोई बीमारी हो, कोई सरकारी आदेश हो, समाज को कोई खतरा हो, कुछ फर्क नहीं पड़ता; वे तो समूहिक नमाज़ पढ़ेंगे ही। वे तो सीएए विरुद्ध प्रदर्शन करेंगे ही, वे तो किसी आदेश को नहीं मानेंगे। नहीं, सब मुसलमान ऐसा नहीं कहते। निश्चित तौर पर ऐसा कहने और करने वाले मुसलमानों में अल्पमत में ही हैं। पर बहुत हैं, कोई छोटी संख्या नहीं है।

यह न तो सिर्फ कट्टरता है, न किसी डर या भय के कारण है, न ही किसी सामयिक आक्रोश का नतीजा है। यह एक धार्मिक विशिष्टता-वाद और धार्मिक-अकड़ की अभिव्यक्ती है। ऐसा कहने वाले लोग यह कह रहे हैं कि हम अपने धर्म के लिए सम्पूर्ण भारतीय समाज को खतरे में डालेंगे। सरकार की सिर्फ वही बात मानेंगे जो हमारा धर्म मानने की इजाजत देता है, वह भी धर्म की हमारी अपनी समझ के अनुसार। बाकी लोगों को हमारे इसी व्यवहार के साथ जीना पड़ेगा। इन में बहुत से लोग एकदम आम इंसान और निहायत ही सरीफ़ लोग हैं। व्यक्तिगत तौर पर आप उनके व्यवहार को बहुत शालीन और सभ्य पाएंगे। वे बुरे लोग भी नहीं हैं, किसी भी अर्थ में शायद। पर उन्हें सभी चीजों पर, सामाजिक रूप से प्रदर्शित व्यवहार में, धर्म को तरजीह देने की आदत हो गई है। वे इसी को ठीक व्यवहार मानते हैं। और बहुत बार समझ तक नहीं पाते की दूसरों को इस में गलत क्या लगता है।

यह बात में इतना ज़ोर दे कर इस लिए कहा रहा हूँ की बाकी सब चीजों की आलोचना होती है। जो नियम तोड़ते हैं उनकी निंदा होती है। चाहे वह आदित्यनाथ हो, चाहे आम जन या पुलिस। पर इस्लाम के नाम पर ऐसे रवैये को सिर्फ नजर-अंदाज़ किया जाता है। थोड़े ज्यादा बुद्धिमान लोग इसे स्पष्टीकरण के साथ उचित ठहराते भी मिल जाएंगे। मुझे नहीं लगता की वर्तमान संकट में भी विचारवान लोगों को इस ढोंस-पट्टी की अनदेखी करनी चाहिए।

मैंने ऊपर भी कहा है, धर्म के नाम पर ऐसी अकड़ बहुत जगह मंदिरों या अन्य मौकों पर हिंदुओं ने भी दिखाई हो सकती है। मेरे देखने में नहीं आई। आप जानते हैं तो जरूर भेजें। पर असल मुद्दा यह है कि सब सोचने-समझने वाले लोगों को इस मानसिकता और इन क्रियाकलापों का बिना भेदभाव और बिना “राजनैतिक-चालाकी”[2] के विरोध करना चाहिए। नहीं तो कुछ भी सामाजिक रूप से सफल नहीं हो पाएगा।

अच्छी बात यह है की मैंने ऊपर जिस तरह के लोगों का जिक्र किया है वे कुछ ही हैं। चाहे वे राजनीतिज्ञ हों, कथित-बौद्धिक हों, आमजन हों, या धर्म के सिपाही हों; सौभाग्य से अभी तक भारतीय जनसमुदाय में वे बहुमत में नहीं हैं। यह लिखा इस लिए है कि संकट की धड़ी में, खास कर बीमारी फैलाने में; बहुत थोड़े लोग बहुत बड़ी खराबी कर सकते हैं। बस इसी लिए इनकी हानि पहुंचाने की क्षमता देखते हुए, इनके नागरिक अधिकारों के पूरे सम्मान के साथ, इन्हें नियंत्रित करना जरूरी है।


27 मार्च 2020

[1] मैं जनता हूँ की धर्मों का नाम लेकर सीधे ऐसे लिखने का रिवाज नहीं है। इसे बुरा माना जाता है। यह भी माना जाता है की ऐसे व्यवहार के कारण धर्मों में नहीं होते; बल्की लोगों के व्यक्तिगत  चिंतन में, या सामाजिक-राजनैतिक परिस्थितियों में होते हैं। पर मैं इसे नहीं मानता। ऐसे व्यवहारों के कारण चाहे वे हिंदुओं की तरफ से हों चाहे मुसलमानों की तरफ से धार्मिक-विचार में ही होते हैं। झूठी मान्यताओं की आड़ में उनके स्रोत के ना देखना समस्या को बढ़ावा देना होगा। होता रहा है।

[2] “पॉलिटिकल कोरेक्ट्नेस” का सही अनुवाद मेरे विचार से “राजनैतिक-औचित्य” नहीं “राजनैतिक-चालाकी” है।

Personal freedom and public responsibly

March 24, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

Professor Jean Dreze made an important argument in his lead article in The Hindu on 23rd March 2020. Not much attention seems be paid to this angle of precautionary measures, especially, of self-isolation. I quote his argument below, with emphasis added.

“To assess the case for various precautionary measures, we must bear in mind the dual motive for taking precautions. When you decide to stay at home, there are two possible motives for it: a self-protection motive and a public-purpose motive. In the first case, you act out of fear of being infected. In the second, you participate in collective efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Some people think about precautions as a matter of self-protection. What they may not realise is that the individual risk of getting infected is still tiny — so small that it is hardly worth any self-protection efforts (except for special groups such as health workers and the elderly). Four hundred thousand people die of tuberculosis in India every year, yet we take no special precautions against it. So why do we take precautions when seven people have died of COVID-19? The enlightened reason is not to protect ourselves, but to contribute to collective efforts to halt the epidemic.”

Taking the same argument forward, when you ignore the efforts for ‘self-imposed isolation’ you are being negligent of your public duty as a citizen. And when you deliberately oppose and hinder the national efforts of isolation, you are acting against the public interest. You are deliberately endangering others. You are being an anti-social and enemy of the public.

I saw a few videos on that same day (23rd March) as this article was published which are very disturbing from this point of view. And I have not seen any comments from our enlightened commentators on this betrayal of the public interest.

I am referring only to three of them here. One is perhaps from Indore (not certain) where supporters of PM Modi’s call for Janata-curfew undo the effect of their own day log efforts as at 5 pm when they go out in the form of a procession beating their thalis and other utensils. (Video here) They think that they are supporting Modi, and are feeling proud of this. While actually they are being idiots and going against whole idea of Janata-curfew. And being public enemies in the bargain. There must have been many such incidents in the country, in which right after the self-imposed isolation people undid whatever small benefit that effort might have given. Modi should think carefully, he does not need enemies as long as he has such blind supporters.

Two another videos, as a sample, from among hosts of such videos are here Video1 and Video2. The people in these videos claim it to be a matter of their faith to congregate for namaz in mosques, in spite of dangers of spread of the virus. No fear of COVID-19 can shake their faith in Allah and they will defy any order to continue to follow their faith. Of course, they are within their rights to ignore personal risk and do as their Allah might be telling them. (Personally, I don’t think that if the Allah is a reality, he can be that stupid.) But they are also part of a society where others, who are not protected by that Allah as they do not believe in Him, also live. In the name of their faith they proclaiming loud and clear, that they will not participate in any self-isolation effort, they will rather hinder such efforts. And continue to endanger other people’ lives in the name of their faith or politics.

There have been furious debates and really mean and barbed tweets on Modi’s thali-taali event. Many rightly so, as some people actually did behave foolishly and claimed that it will help kill the virus. Some deliberately misinterpreted that it is fooling the public, giving them circus rather than safety. However, the same critical thinkers have been completely silent on this arrogant display of public animosity in the name of faith in Allah.

There also have been gau-mitra parties to contain the virus. As far as collective enjoyment of consuming gau-mutra according to their faith goes, it is their right. I think there are six-gavayas rather than five. The traditional five are: milk, curds, ghee, cow-umbrine and cow-dung. I would add one more to make it six: milk, curds, ghee, beef, gau-mutra and gobar. It is a matter of personal taste how many of them you consume or do other things with them. Personally, I will restrict myself to the first four as far as consumption goes; but have absolutely no objection to those who want to widen their scope and consume all six. Having said that, organising parties (gathering together for the joy of collective consumption of cow-urine) in the time of COVID-19 is concerned, this is an act of public betrayal. This is not only about the party-goers; it is about you and me, with whom they are highly likely to come in contact.

By the acts of holding parties, taking out processions and congregating for namaz in the name of personal, political and religious freedom, these people are being public enemies. They are endangering yours and my safety as well. They should be condemned by sane public without any consideration of political correctness. Our liberties can not endanger others’ lives. Yes, they have their constitutional rights of personal, political and religious freedoms; but only as far as they do not risk other innocent and law-abiding citizens’ lives and liberties. Also, those who go red in the face and stretch themselves to their full hight in arrogance on hearing the sound of a thali and conch-shell, but whose spine becomes jelly in the face of collective namaz these days, are being irresponsible backbone-less hypocrites. We can not rely on these double standard people; the straight-thinking silent majority has to speak.


24th March 2020