Smoke, mirrors and Modi: A grand illusion of governance -Samar Halarnkar

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published Published on May 9, 2020   modified Modified on May 9, 2020

Emotion and grand political statements may normally distract and attract voters. In a crisis, they are poor substitutes for governance.

It is now 41 days since the government told the Supreme Court that there were no migrant workers on the road any more. “They have been taken to the nearest available shelter”, and 2.3 million were being fed, India’s Solicitor General told the judges, who – in a now familiar routine – took the government at its word.

It is evident that statement was anything but the truth.

In the absence of jobs, food and transport services, thousands of stoic and weary migrant workers, who once powered India’s economy, continue epic journeys home on cycle or on foot, over hundreds, even 1,000, km. Parents carry children, drag luggage or balance bundles on their heads. The sick and the injured hobble along for as long as they can. Some drop dead of exhaustion or illness, either on the way or, tragically, after reaching home. One group was mowed down while walking along rail tracks they thought was empty of trains.

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