Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
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The Narendra Modi government has no rival in its ‘change the headlines’ approach to politics and the brilliance with which it can move. The latest example is this ‘Vande Bharat Mission’. A new excitement has been conjured up in the most glum air.

Coronavirus has broken the back of economic activity the world over. Almost every country has large numbers of citizens employed abroad, students, tourists and families stuck across the world. Most have run some operation to bring these back.

Only India has turned it into an event. As you’d expect from the Modi playbook, an event like this has to have a headline and a hashtag. Multiple ministerial handles have to tweet in celebration. The BJP’s own IT machinery joins in. As indeed, do the television channels.

The friendlier channels have already started ball-by-ball coverage. Here is an example: A plane takes off to rousing music. A celebration that some 781 Indians have already landed. As if they are returning victorious after liberating Muzaffarabad or Skardu. Ministers are applauding it as an achievement. As if they’ve been snatched back from the jaws of death. And if you think that isn’t ridiculous enough, check out the series of stories we’ve been watching all day on the quarantine facilities being set up in slick hotels for these honoured returning children of India.

We are reminded that they will pay for these. Because they can afford it. They are, after all, children of a greater god. Which all Indians can’t be. There are just so many of us, 138 crore. Spare a moment for our poor Gods. How can they bestow their favours upon so many of us? They pick the more deserving.

This is something all of us Indians should cherish. The government is bringing back so many good Indians on its planes, setting them up in comfortable quarantine centres, so they can go home safe for their family, friends and neighbours. The first time India has carried out such an incredible feat since Akshay Kumar single-handedly brought back the lakhs from occupied Kuwait in 1990.

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This is the spirit of modern, resurgent India. Teacher of the world, or Vishwa Guru. All of you join together, click your heels, and salute the spirit of the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’. And never mind the minor matter of fellow Indians, maybe a hundred times more than these, walking back home a thousand miles away, on blistered feet, empty stomachs, with no reception committees, welcome tweets, no quarantine homes, no trains or buses for 45 days, while they may have been even willing to pay.

They are not the same. If they were smarter, better educated, blessed with better horoscopes and more successful parents, why would they be hauling bricks and mortar at our construction sites? They’d be working or studying overseas. If God didn’t make all Indians equal, go fight with God. Meanwhile, celebrate this great national mission. This is the reason we call this week’s argument, ‘Vande Bharat versus Bharat ke Bande’ (people of India).


Also read: India plans to expand repatriation from 15 May to bring back citizens from more countries


At which point, we need to ask a question we wouldn’t have imagined raising, and that too so early in this government’s second term: Is Narendra Modi losing his touch?

He hasn’t reached this far, won two full majorities, destroyed all opposition because he isn’t smart. He’s the smartest politician we’ve seen since Indira Gandhi. Given that, unlike her, he came with no entitled legacy and is entirely self-made, probably ever in independent India’s history.

His political brand is built on three key attributes, and I list these in the ascending order of importance: 1. Great oratory and messaging skills; 2. An aura of great personal power and decisiveness; and 3, and the most important, the ability to identify with the common Indian so closely that the poorest Indians — most of India’s voters — identify with him. They prefer him because in him they see everything the Gandhis aren’t. Self-made, non-elite, working class (chaiwala), no privilege or fancy foreign education, simple, frugal lifestyle, empathy for the poor. Underline that word, empathy. Because we will return to it soon.

Modi has masterfully crafted his appeal as anti-elitist (read anti-dynasty), as one who has learnt about his country travelling and spending time in each one of its districts (something he takes deserved pride in), instead of elite campuses and Lutyens’ parlours. If he lost power, it won’t bother him too much, he’s been reminding us. He will simply pick up his jhola and walk back home. What’s a ‘fakir’ got to lose?

It was this instinct that shook him the moment that “suit-boot” description was flung at him. This is why he made such an about-turn in his approach to the political economy. The business-friendly Gujarat model was dumped. Schemes like MGNREGA were no longer ridiculed, but strengthened. He knew the real VIPs in the life of an Indian politician who needs to win elections, not just for himself but 300 others in the Lok Sabha, are the poor, or the larger working classes. Not the urban elites, or the middle classes.

How come, then, has all his messaging in the coronavirus season so far been directed only at these middle classes and elites? Play back his speeches and ‘Mann ki Baat’ addresses. He’s mostly reaching out to them. Even when he’s advising or sermonising. Our economy will pay a heavy price, he says.

Some Mr Shah or Sharma or Agrawal in the cities will keep that in mind when their fortune is wiped out on the stock markets. What does it mean to the daily-wage labourer who suddenly finds himself on the street, no better than a starving vagrant, pushed around by the police, until he begins his Biblical long march home?


Also read: Global outreach, internal motivation: The crux of PM Modi’s Buddha Purnima speech


Check out all Modi’s invocations: Taalithali, torches, lights. Come to your balconies or verandahs. It looks like in its sixth year, Modi’s politics has become so smug it is confusing the “balconied classes” for real India. In which case, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), the new dictatorial monstrosity of elite, urban India, are justified in their new-found arrogance.

Now, how many voters in India have balconies? How many even have proper homes? A non-leaking roof over their heads? How many tens of millions stay hundreds of miles away from their families, 14 to a matchbox of a room with no window?

Then, the home ministry says nobody should come out of their homes after 7 pm. What percentage of Indians can physically make such a distinction between what is inside and outside their homes? It’s been 45 days since this exodus began, and no one prominent has reached out to these millions with an arm of sympathy. It is as if they do not exist.

They are the problem of their state governments. Good riddance from the big cities where the most valuable Indians live. And if they take the virus to their villages, what can we do? They should have known better. Of course, state governments would try and detain them in temporary sub-human quarantine camps using the police. Even when, after six weeks, a few trains are arranged for those still not halfway home on their feet, the Centre would pass the buck to the states to pay for their tickets. And then start a tu-tu/main-main over who’s at fault for the confusion.

You can’t make the poor rich overnight. Nor can you fly millions in airplanes. But remember that word we had said we will come back to: Empathy. Who in the BJP is speaking in that language to these millions? Someone putting an arm of understanding, warmth, comfort around them? The chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are the only ones doing something. They haven’t lost their political instinct, ear to the ground. It is tough to believe that Narendra Modi might have.


Also read: Don’t blame Covid or financial package. Politics is holding India’s migrant workers hostage


 

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108 Comments Share Your Views

108 COMMENTS

  1. Further to my comments yesterday I wish to present a few facts and then ask you, Mr. Gupta, the two questions of which you have accused PM Modi.
    FACTS:
    in a span of 5-6 years getting 9 crore toilets built,, providing 8 crore plus free gas connections to poor women, building cheap PM Aawaas yojana homes, opening 31 crore zero balance bank accounts and linking them to 2 lakh life cover for the holder at Rs. 30/- per month as well as 2 lakh accident disability cover at Re one per month, providing electricity to rural households, providing 20 crore people with Mudra loans without collateral to start micro or small enterprises, launching the largest health scheme in the world which provides free treatment to about 40 crore poor up to Rs. 5 lakhs per family etc. etc.
    NOW THE QUESTIONS:
    1. Are these schemes for rich and mighty? If not, are you hones in insinuating that Modi Govt. works for rich?
    2. Is the Modi Govt. headline hogging? If that were so then I did not have to remind you of the above facts because each scheme would have been presented to the country with a bang with such headlines that it would have been imprinted on each person’s mind, including yours. Forget about headlines, he does not even believe in being remembered by history by naming buildings, airports, road, and schemes and naming them after his name. All his schemes are called Prime Minister schemes and not Narendra Modi schemes.
    May be grudgingly but you will have to admit that the country has not seen such a great man as PM in its history.
    Yoyutend to compare his appeal to people with that of Mrs. Gandhi but here also you are wrong because Mrs. Gandhi’s popularity was short lived. It was at its peak after 1971 war with Pakistan but waned hopelessly when she declared Emergency. Though she won elections after that but could not reclaim the appeal she had lost.

    • Most of the work done by Modi Govt in TV channels, social media , and advatisements…..now india consider as a poor country in the world ? why GDP is zero now ? we are suffering a lot because of Modi Govr and his supporter. India was established country but now everything destroyed ? in coming days more difficulties will arrive in india.

      • hahah when there is lockdown obviously GDP will become zro as its happenign in europe n USA …..Modis work is fantactic bu incomplete ….. india was established country ? what ajoker you are … n moronic … india is far more developed right now than whats it was before 2014 … n its on the path to progress …. lockdown has prevented deaths in millions and its due to modis tough decisions !!!//// i thi u circumcised ur brains hence u r NALAYAk modi is real nayak ..!

  2. Mr Gupta you are not being fair in your criticism of PM Modi. Bias in you is loud and clear. You are comparing the arrangements made for return of expats with that of return to home of migrant workers. Fair enough but are you making a like to like comparison? What I mean is that what is happening with expats in first week of May is being compared by you with what happened to migrant workers in the initial phase of LOCKDOWN 1 when these workers started walking or cycling to their homes. At that time, with total freezing of operations of airlines, trains, buses and a ban on interstate movement of any kind where was the question of arranging for return of workmen? At that time any prudent govt. would try to arrange for food and shelter for these workers which was by and large done. Did the expats say at that time that if no arrangements are made for their return home they would jump into the sea and swim across? No, they waited with patience till the Govt. was in a position to think of them and that was in the 1st week of May. Almost simultaneously special trains were arranged to ferry migrant workers. So where is the double standard of the Govt. in dealing with the two groups of people? As said above some in the migrant group did not wait for the Govt. to do the needful and hit the road on foot or cycles in March/April itself and while the expats were waiting t for the Govt. to act andyou blame the Modi Govt. for it conveniently and intentionally skirting the above facts and therein lies your bias.

  3. Yes, Exactly we need to focus on the poor strata of our country. The middle class is arranging the food by cutting their own stomach for the poor strata that gets money arranged suddenly from anywhere to buy liquor as soon as the liquor shops open.(Tho the poor strata still acts that they don’t have money for food 🙂 We “the middle class” are told to give the salary to the ones we take our services from I.e the *Poor strata” but the state govt. are themselves cutting down our salaries.. 🙂 and also told us not to take rent from the people we give shelter too.. It’s a little funny that they think that the “Middle class” has ATMS Installed in their homes 🙂 Its also strange too see the poors who don’t have food to eat and demanding food from the police officers inspite of having full stock at there home..suddenly find money to buy liquor when the Liquor shops open….I know that the one who has written this article is also from a middle class but doesn’t getting the feeling that we the actually “Middle class” people have because his/her SALARY IS ONN
    C’mon dude the poor will be seen by the govt. rather it would be the middle class that would be affected more than the poor strata by the taxes on them after the lockdown gets over. We the middle class ones are getting the electricity/water supply bills despite of the fact that we have our businesses shut down. The only middle class jobs that are open are Media Channels which are having regular income. The poor are getting food on there doorstep by the corona warriors-The police officers working day and night for them..but not for the middle class who has given the money by paying taxes to feed the poor which is earned by their Hardwork..Modiji isn’t favouring Middle class & he is definitely favouring Poor strata( the major part of his votebank).. Guptaji bolna bhot Assan hai apni printingpress chalu hai or humare dhande band hai..Gupta ji think twice before saying that Modi’s messages are for middle and elite ones..without the middle class and elites you wouldn’t have taxes that lead to development of the country and the road outside your press and the food in so called “empty stomach filled with liquor” of poor strata.

    -A middle class person
    (With a closed office)

  4. BJP AND Modi does not know how to run the country during the danger or crisis time ? Modi think he is a best PM in india, but he is a very worst PM in india. HE WIN ELECTION THROUGH EVM MACHINE AND ELECTION COMMISSION SUPPORT. ….making fool to indian ? poor people will die every day during this lockdown…….in other side ZEE NEWS,REPUBLIC TV, AND SOME CHANEL WILL START WORSHIP TO MODI.

  5. Mr. Joker is also loosing his business for all the disinformations released by his media group. Despite his self proclamation of the ‘intellectual’ residing inside him, he does not understand that it is because of the 55 years of mal-governance of his Mom’s party that India today stands financially crippled. Also, considering the geography and demography of India, more particularly population density coupled with all the nonsense and anarchy that people like Joker and his like minded fellows have been propagating, India still stands on a much much better footing that th rest of the world. Khair, Humko kya karna hai, dhanda hai par ganda hai. Joker sir ke pet Ka sawaal hai.

  6. Sorry to say Vande Bharat mission is not in the national interest but for profit it is
    chargeable and charge in double triple profit those who are in foreign will pay to come back.
    Request to media please mention this mission is not free good amount will be charge from them who will be brought back to India

  7. The Centre’s Iron Fist
    Even as heart wrenching images of migrants walking hundreds of km invaded our homes on TV, BJP MP and poster boy Tejasvi Surya
    defended the Karnataka Govt’s obnoxious decision not to allow trains to transport migrant labourers to states like UP and Bihar. On 6th May he shamelessly tweeted: “Stoppage of interstate trains by Sri@BSYBJP is a bold and necessary move. It will help migrant labourers who came here with hopes of better life to restart their dreams. Also it will kickstart economic activities full throttle. Karnataka will emerge out of this stronger”. In an extensive interview to NDTV he justified the Govt’s move, arguing: a) Those who wanted to go should be stranded people, and not people who were living there; b) States in which they were shd be able to send them back; c) their home state shd be willing to take them back. Lastly he referred to an MHA directive restraining the state Govts. Indeed, the Union Home Secy’s letter of 3rd May states: “The MHA orders are meant to facilitate movement of such stranded persons who had moved from their native place/work place JUST before the lockdown period” but could not go back due to the lockdown.
    So a migrant labourer from UP/Bihar who was in say Bangalore,Hyderabad, Delhi Ahmedabad or Mumbai since, say January 2020, for a bridge construction was not allowed to go back to UP or Bihar!! That was the upshot of the order on which Tejasvi relied. And while the MHA kept quiet, BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli sidestepping the issue, defended the Central Govt’s stand on various grounds going so far as to argue that that BIMARU states were the creation of the last 72 years and that Govt schemes like Jan Dhan and Ujjwala had benefited these migrants. That these migrants were uprooted by their employers who had not paid them salaries, that they were thrown out by their land lords for non payment of rent, that they could not avail of benefits of Govt Schemes like Ujjwala and Jan Dhan because they lived alone and their Aadhar cards were registered in their home states, that they craved to be with their families, that they had a fundamental right to move and that the State could check if they were Covid free etc, did not matter. The MHA order was cast in stone. But as the national and international outrage mounted the Centre and Karnataka Govt relented. But the HM instead of ordering MHA to amend it’s order, has launched a well timed pro-migrant crusade against WB Govt!! I compared this callous order with the Vande Bharat Mission order No.40-3/2020-DM- I(A) of 5.5.2020 of MHA. It is clearly addresses “Indian nationals who had travelled to different countries before (not just before) the lockdown on various purposes such as EMPLOYMENT, studies, internship, tourism, business etc, stranded abroad”. In contradistinction to the iron fisted approach to hapless internal migrants, the 5.5.20 order states:”Due to their PROLONGED stay abroad they are facing distress and are DESIROUS of returning to India urgently”. The stark contrast between the open-arms disposition towards our well-off abroad and the cruel and exploitative attitude towards poor migrants is evident. Is this Janus-faced hard approach towards internal migrants on the one hand and soft approach towards our citizens abroad on the other, happening in spite of the PM or because of him?

  8. The Narendra Modi government has no rivals other than the Khan Market and Luityens gang of paper tigers grabbing the op-ed space. There old, now out of power guardians keep hoping that Modi will screw up some thing big time.
    They do not accept that MODI is well past the stage of loosing power over a screw up, just as they think that he has no idea about how important is the NRI lot. His having taken care of that lot is also something beyond the comprehension of the rival gang.
    For them the NRI was a good cover for laundry, otherwise every moneyed Indian would not have had an entity registered through a friend or a relative in the NRI zones of the world.
    MODI is surviving, by not doing exactly what, the politicians with their Babu, Business, Industrialist and media friends have been doing for past 70 years.
    The exercise has succeeded and consolidated his invincibility so long as he does not steal money.
    Given his hold on the social media the so called opinion makers of the media both in print and electronic will not be able dent his image.
    So accept the reality and change,” folks of Shields, if you can’t beat them, the join them”

  9. PM Modi’s motto ‘Jaan Hai Toh Jahan Hai’ (“जान है तो जहान है”) for whom?

    No one can deny that migrants workers are dying on the way to their to home, but let us not forget “A hypocrite dies a thousand deaths but a migrant worker dies but once”

    • On the contrary hypocrite lives a comfortable life. Civilised human society is all about comfortable life for some and slavery for others. For the elite their pets are more valuable than lesser humans.

  10. Shekar Gupta, lost all respect for you. NRIs have a right to return back home – We are Indians after all and have contributed immensely to our country’s prosperity. Every country took back its citizens, but India closed its borders and we are stuck desperate to get back. It’s been 2 months and only a minuscule number of people are able to board a flight..and even before this mission has taken off, journalists like you are maligning a much needed mission. Shame on you Shekar

    • And the people who are walking hundreds of kilometers in the blazing sun, risking their lives, are Indians too. What has been done for them? Aren’t they contributing to the nation’s prosperity? If one section of the population is given a red carpet welcome and the rest treated as pariahs, voices would be raised, the usual feeling of entitlement of NRIs notwithstanding.

      • Nobody compelled migrants to walk home. They could have continued to stay in their adopted states. If they would have stayed back it would have been easier for local governments to take care of them. Much more difficult to take care of people on the move especially in the present situation.

    • He’s not stating don’t bring them home, he’s simply saying it shouldn’t be a different yardstick for both, as both equally Indians.

    • Shame on u too.Why u r coming back if u are indian then why u have not worked for the economy of India.U r not a voter not a taxpayer and just bcz of u people’s we middle class people’s are suffering and in time of difficulty u wn come back to India.of I would b PM them I will not allow my 138 crores peoples life in danger just bcz of passport holder NRI

    • Shame on u too.Why u r coming back if u are indian then why u have not worked for the economy of India.U r not a voter not a taxpayer and just bcz of u people’s we middle class people’s are sufferin9g and in time of difficulty u wn come back to India.of I would b PM them I will not allow my 138 crores peoples life in danger just bcz of passport holder NRI

  11. So what is the Prints problem if stranded Indians are being brought back home ? An article in such poor taste. There are several trains running for migrant workers already and the Government seems to be doing their best. Do you guys at Print understand what it means to be stranded in foreign land unable to get back to family. Bring this article down you morons

  12. Completely absurd arguments and filled with animosity

    Here at least people are India …. some or other one can take care of them, what about those who went outside on tour and are drained with funds…. who will volunteer to help them with fooding and lodging. Here migrants have not been forced to walk, they were walking voluntarily (although this could have taken care by govt and civil society ). But then if govt will do this free…. for how long ? As if people who traveled abroad are not Indians and are criminals, as how can they go on leisure tour….. are bhai it’s there own money.

    Can they walk on foot…. or Swim the sea to reach India ….. May someone ans this…. are they not Indians …. are they all rich ….. govt should have forgotten them ?

  13. When businessmen run governments by proxy it is inevitable that poor labourers would be treated as disposables. And thhey would be cheered on by the hugely entitled, educated urban chattering classes who treat their own domestic helps equally shabbily.

    • Anonymous or whoever you are, dont think all others are like you, especially when it comes to domestic helps..be positive man (or woman?) be positive….do your bit..

  14. The point about the dignity of the poor is so important and so often forgotten. I’ve been thinking about the hopelessness of their situation – that they’re going back to their villages, which they likely left for lack of opportunities, without a plan. And that hopeless journey has been made so much worse by the callous lack of any support from the government.

    It is important to point out, as you do that these are hard working people, and that they were earning wages and providing for their loved ones. There was immense dignity in that. And all of that is lost in this horrific walk of shame back to their villages.

  15. Modi has some serious lapses to account for in otherwise well handled corona crisis. He never had a message or word for migrants and neither central nor state governments cared for them. It would have been simple to 1- issue ordinance giving them right not to be thrown out from their existing dwellings for next 3 months for want of rent etc 2- make a list of migrants in the Police station where they live and issue them coupons for ration 3- make arrangements for their food at restaurants in their areas. Each Municipality could have been made responsible for this along with police station and tehsil officer. Since this issue is mainly limited to a few big cities, this could have been easily handled even before they started migrating. Even government could have formally invited RSS for help!

    It is unbelievable that Modi has missed this and more so, what is BJP doing about this? JP Nadda has no executive responsibility and he should have suggested this course of action to Mod Shah, Modi should have been talking daily for 30 minutes on live Youtube or any other video chats with various sections of the people on different days during the lock down and given the message that people are finally responsible for corona fight and government can only do so much. You have not seen Modi except during his 3 messages! In other places, he appeared with serious and heavy faces all the time, as if the crisis has overwhelmed him.

    Whether like it or not, we have no option other than Modi and he must not fail, come what may. The article is usual blabber from Shekhar – neither ere nor there!

  16. Whether or not Mr.Modi has lost his touch it is evident the Shekhar Gupta has not lost his. He has mastered the art of subtle flattery while seemingly being critical, a quality which ought to be appreciated by the ruling dispensation much more than the crude sycophancy of a majority of the media. No Mr. Gupta, Modi may have propaganda skills and the ability to distract with silly shambolic displays, but he is not really a smart man. Every action he has taken since the first term has been a disaster for the country. Yet you pretend that this is the first time he has treated the poor so badly. Shame on you.

  17. Our country is meant for rich nris coming to a rousing welcome, even if they have corona and transmit it to maids to take it to hinderlands it is ok for modi, he is the messiah for NRIs. We the forgotten working class stuck in cities like Chennai, Tirupati etc away from our families for working to better ourselves in India are not worth Modis attention or largesse. SHAME on Modi.

      • When foreign beautiful locales attracted talent offering million dollar homes, helicopter rides and yachts NRIs never bothered about returning, why return back with disease to spread to others who cannot afford basic medical care, stay put where you are enjoy the brickbats with bouquets in your cool cool places.

    • Do not demonize NRIs, they bring skills back and also thousands of crores by way of remittance.
      They are as patriotic as any one.
      While we do have sympathy with migrant labors but this situation has not been created by rest of India.
      Every one is fighting his/her battle now. Governments, NGOs and public at large are trying to help them as much as possible.
      So do not sow seeds of discord and seek some political advantage .

  18. And surely Sir, if Modi would not have brought them back by Vande Bharat, you would have abused him in no uncertain terms.
    This is as inevitable, as Sun rising from east.

  19. It’s not that he’s not aware of the suffering of the poor. It’s just that he doesn’t care! Because, more important are his pet projects like Central Vista, CAA-NRC, etc. Things in that regard are progressing smoothly. Approvals are being hammered out. And pregnant actvists are being arrested.

    If he had to help the poor, he’d need to SPEND MONEY ON THEM. Which he’s not willing to do!

    The death of 15 migrant labourers mowed down by the goods train can be attributed directly to the lack of a financial package – for the poor. the businesses they work for, and the states they work in. They’re not sure they, or their families back home will be taken care of. So, they’re rushing home, by any means possible. Would they have died if free transport was available?!

    Where are the funds given to ‘PM-DOESN’TGIVEADAMN”?! Why haven’t they been used to help the ones needing it most?! How much has been collected?! Does the CJI have an answer?! Or at least a clear conscience?!

    Everyone compares Modi to Indira Gandhi. But the virus is proving otherwise. From the original Pappu, he’s turning out to be more and more like Indira Gandhi’s prodigal son – Sanjay Gandhi. That same disregard for the poor. The same contempt for vital institutions and the rule of law. The poor are mere stepping stones in his dreams of greatness!.

  20. Writer probably have not understood the pace of contagiousness of SARS-2CoV, Corona pandemic. n also biased writing. He asks how many houses have balconies? Poor fellow, didn’t listen what PM said. As a visionary leader, PM Modi saved villages from Corona pandemic. Trains/ busses ran for labourers and stranded people in the country only after 32 days of lockdown, 28 days of lockdown and 4 buffer days to assertain that these people are safe and only after testing they were allowed to board trains for repatriation back to their natives. As a medical scientist I hail this preventive step because, thousands of people board trains and Corona is extremely contagious and therefore, extremely well planned strategy was the need of the hour, which Govt of India accomplished. Villages saved is India saved because, the infrastructure at small towns and villages don’t allow us to take wrong decision that would’ve been disastrous. Still, there is surge in pandemic n mostly from metros, and two tier cities, they too subside after another two to three months. But, I think, Corona and human fight continue to occur for years…

  21. Shekhar Gupta wrote selective stupid article. He asks how many houses have balconies? Poor fellow, didn’t listen what PM said. As a visionary leader, PM Modi saved villages from Corona pandemic. Trains/ busses ran for labourers and stranded people in the country only after 32 days of lockdown, 28 days of lockdown and 4 buffer days to assertain that these people are safe and only after testing they were allowed to board trains for repatriation back to their natives. As a medical scientist I hail this preventive step because, thousands of people board trains and Corona is extremely contagious and therefore, extremely well planned strategy was the need of the hour, which Govt of India accomplished. Villages saved is India saved because, the infrastructure at small towns and villages don’t allow us to take wrong decision that would’ve been disastrous. Still, there is surge in pandemic n mostly from metros, and two tier cities, they too subside after another two to three months. But, I think, Corona and human fight continue to occur for years…

  22. The spread of Corona virus is a extra -ordinary Event which has no parallels in the world for a period of 99 years , if not a century. Many countries have been affected and devastated by it and Every country is fighting as WAR on war footings. Every war has unbearable costs in terms of Men, material resources. It is fought on many battle fronts. ever WAr entails what is called –” COLLATERAL DAMAGES .” These are born by any individual , or group of persons who unfortunately comes in firing line. So the talk of saying migrant workers are bearing the undue pressure or stress, may be true, unacceptable, but is natural outcome of War against pandemic. But note down my words–NO SACRIFICE GOES UNREWARDED. They will be rewarded with higher wages in the period after Lock downs are withdrawn as Indian business units restart working. There is already feeling of shortage of skilled manpower in industrial towns. stop this line of thinking Modi is failing himself as corona warrior or letting any segment of society to fail.

    Another point , which is frequently used by the Journalists getting guidance and instructions from Ex- rulinG family— DEMONETISATION– . Agreed it failed to meet its stated objectives . But in subsequent elections Modi got more seats, more votes. Because people understood his intentions behind the demonetization . He had good intentions , took bold steps , but results were not as expected. General public had suffered in those days, but clearly understood the reasons for failure . They voted for Modi irrespective of the tirade by many anti-Modi journalists. YEH JANTA SAB JANTI HAI.
    The war against pandemic go on for some more months. We shall keep on getting some good , some bad news. But MANKIND WILL WIN.

  23. Rahul Gandhi does a few video shows with “public intellectuals” and Shekhar Gupta gets an orgasm…hoping he is invited next!

    Last week like Trump Shekhar Gupta was shouting to open the economy. If migrants rush home who will open the economy?

  24. Destroying the myth of dynasty may have been important whilst launching his national political career, he veered off course when he entrenched himself at 7 RCR. He regaled himself in his designer kurta-pyjamas, his Bugatti sunglasses, Mont Blanc pens, Range Rovers and his even crazier anti-poor economic schemes like demonetization and a ruinous GST, his opaque political funding, a seven star BJP headquarter that highlighted the distance between the ruler and the ruled. Again, he may have had no foreign qualifications or upbringing, but the images of how went about hugging any and all foreign leaders were not lost on a vast majority of the Indian population and became a butt of many a joke. No matter how smart he is, he has to make one mistake and this castle made on perceptions will crumble.

  25. Rightly said, Gupta ji. Could we ever ask Hitler to be empathetic? Not at all. He couldn’t never be.

    Nature has reacted in the guise of Coronavirus, a reminder to stop being sinners and messengers of Hatred.

  26. If swimming were as easy as walking I would have tried crossing the Atlantic.

    It is unfortunate, that some migrant labourers are suffering. It is more unfortunate that India has chosen the capitalist way rather than the communist way. In the former the suffering during pandemic times will be proportionate to the status of each individual at the beginning of the pandemic. In the latter (communist) may be, just maybe, the suffering would have been more even and not proportionate. India can still choose to be another China, any time. It is left to us to choose the way!

    Having said that, the propensity of the media, since a few decades, to put the onus of Nation building only on the Governments and not also on the people is alarming – like blaming the Police for traffic chaos and not the people using the road!!!!
    A builder friend of mine in Bangalore, my usual place of residence, is looking after about 500 migrant labourers he uses during good times. The two clubs I play in (yes an elite sport that provides lung space to cities and employment to thousands including migrant labourers) have adopted the migrant caddies who are mostly from UP, Bihar and W. Bengal.

    Unless someone (including the Government) makes money it can’t be distributed to someone else.
    The media, since independence, has been putting all blame for all ills on the Governments absolving the people of any lapses. I seldom see the media, on daily basis, educating the people about their failings.

    By all means check the Governments for their failings. But also report those “Good” news too, like helping the Migrant labourers, that may not be sensational. I challenge the media to take a census of the migrant labourers who were looked after as is where they are versus the number who had / have problems. It could surprise everyone!!!!!

  27. Very nice Mr Gupta, with same breadth could you try to write one, which adversary of Mr.Modi has gained the losing touch, any names? Mamta, Maya, Yechuri, Stalin, Uddhav ?? Can you give a try? In your words it is a disaster of monstrous proportion and it would be a cakewalk for opposition to corner the govt. But pity, you also need only Modi to outpour the blah blah…but next time pls do prop up the opposition with some positives on their part. They should also feel their relevance and presence after all, isn’t ??

  28. More than Modi, it’s the responsibility of CMs of the respective states to take care of labour. CMs can demand reopening of liquor shops but are silent on being responsible for labour welfare. Shekhar has a political purpose to held Modi responsible and let the CMs go scot free. I repeatedly see librandus expecting Modi to take charge of every thing that affect people’s life and at the same time they abuse Modi by calling fascist, by addressing him Hitler and taunting him for Hindu Rashtra . Only librandus can take such contradictory positions. I am sure they must be having sleepless nights to invent new opportunities to blame Modi.

    • rightly said. all blame modi. all goodies CM of the state. those CMs who dont fare well…keep quite about them. what a strategy SG….hihi

      • better suggestions please…. people like you are a different category. dont have solutions/suggestions/answers, call others bhakts… hahahaha

  29. Shekhar, Mass movement of people at the peak of the pandemic would have defeated the whole purpose of lock down. People need to stay where they are to minimise the spread. The movement and re partition was allowed when things started to look under control. Many countries delayed and prioritised repatriation depending on the level of crisis in various location. It is inevitable that the migrant workers are highly impacted but if you notice certain states ensure the welfare and the credit for that should go to state governments but in that case where it was not handled well , the blame should stay on state government . I think you missed the point in this piece I am afraid . The clue is in your six weeks govt did nothing to move them . That was the purpose. Sorry this one you got it wrong.

    • Sir ji, to whom you are trying to educate? SG?. he know everything very well. he is a seasoned journalist. the purpose of writing this piece is different…MODI BASHING… NOTHING ELSE…

    • Agreed. Mass movement of people would have defeated the very idea of a lockdown. But don’t you think that the government should have realized that the people who lived day-to-day should have been provided for when their livelihood would be jeopardized? This government is notorious for shooting first and thinking (if at all they are capable of that) later. Then again, he missed his target audience when he came on TV. He should have addressed the multitudes who didn’t know where their next meal was going to come from. But true to his style, he issued his dictate and then left the states to count the corpses.

    • On the contrary migrant labour was free of virus in Feb and early part of March as the virus came from abroad through globe trotting Indians . Question of spread of virus through labourers were non existent at that time.

  30. The problem is , the virus traveled into India from rich countries ; china, Italy..so on, so the idiot politicians of our country applied the same rules , the rich countries applied to contain and fight the virus. In the haste of becoming a strong ,big chaste leader one of our biggest idiot forgot that we are the China and Italy. We are a 3rd world, poor country. 90% population still survive under informal means of livelihood. A lot of beggars, urban homeless poor, 10s of people live in a shanty of 8×8. I bat 90%of the population may not have heard the term ‘balcony’. …Go to rural and semi urban areas. ..we are still shitting by the railway track, edge of the streets, in nalas. More than 50% people earn and eat on day to day basis. And our beloved idiot thought we are some kind of China or Italy ……balcony me aake taali baja do…ghar se babar mat niklo, ramayan dekho, …i will lose all the energy to live anymore on this planet if these only people will relelect HIM in 2024.

  31. Like a typical middle – class Indian, Shekhar Gupta puts all the blame on the politicians.

    The plight of the poor Indians is as much a fault of the politicians as of the Indian middle-class.

    And see what the SC is up to. It’s just become a branch office of the PMO.

    Just ask around how much domestic servants are paid.

    Nothing less than change in this mentality will ensure fairness for all sections of Indians.

    • Welcome to the real world. Anything in excess, including human beings, loses value. Breed like rabbits and have zero skills then get ready to live life on a pittance. The truth is the world doesn’t owe anybody anything whether it’s the rich, middle class or poor. Time to stop whining against politicians, middle class, rich and take charge of oneself.

      • Well said Vish. Well said. Wonderful. When I read such comments full of deep wisdom and (lack of) empathy for other people, my faith in humanity is restored.

        People like you can contribute so much to humanity with your simple but powerful ideas. So when are you joining the Modi government? It lacks talent. And people like you can help him a lot in keeping the population down by making some people (or rabbits?) walk all the way from Mumbai to Patna.

      • @vish. Total illiteracy of the so called educated. No insight of sociology, history, economics. This proves our educated are no better than illiterates and are vicious and self-centred.

    • Congress’ all money exhausted in buying your mother’s pus**y and as**ole . By regular drilling in the both holes, your beloved Pappu is making his shaft ready for Modi.

    • Mr Chiranjeevi: Whenever your pathetic Adityanath, Amit Shah and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur worshipping ilk is unable to muster a cogent argument to a very valid standpoint, the knee-jerk assumption is that the Congress is funding people with non-Hindutva views. Not that I am succumbing to the temptation to call you a somewhat literate gaurakshak in the payroll of the BJP IT cell or the Bajrang Dal …

      Why don’t you increase your gomutra doasge and see if that helps you think more clearly Mr Cheeranjeevi?

    • I suspect if there is a funding at all
      But the writer may kindly question BJP ‘a I’ll gotten wealth of electoral bonds Notebandhi deposits in Ahmedabad Supreme Court turning a nelsons eye on the trouncing of basic rights of Dalit activists and so on

    • Congress or BJP directly doesn’t own any media, they own it via proxies like Reliance or Adani etc. Now let’s do a simple math, who is the richest party in India ? The answer is BJP, who is the rolling party in India? The answer is BJP. Who has the most political power? The answer is BJP, so the only party that can actually buy media is BJP and not congress at this moment. Now I am not a congress fan, but I am also not a blind Bhakt.

  32. In the last 45 days, poor have become poorer. Middle class is becoming poor. Great achievement.
    a k pattabiraman, chennai

      • Don’t worry. Govt everywhere work overtime for them. It is the Banks which will get poorer endangering the life long savings of lesser mortals. Stock market is already defying gravity.

    • Do you blame Modi or Wuhan Virus for it? Are you saying Modi didn’t handle COVID properly? What is your solution and how better India should have handled?

      • This is simple common sense. Virus came from outside from Jan Feb through globe trotters. They should have been tackled. Even in early March no community transmission was there. All people could have gone home lockdown could have extended gradually.

  33. Agree entirely. I would have expected at least a blue print – if not the details, of the arrangements to ferry these migrants in Modi’s speech itself. Alas, it was not there. Nor it came days and weeks later. We have biggest railway network of the world. All states have buses to further take these people rail-station onward – further to their districts. I am still curious why this plan was not put in place.

  34. No Mr Gupta, Modi is not losing any touch. I know you have been wishing this for years and don’t miss a chance to come back to your wish again and again to get disappointed again and again. Keep watching. He is not perfect in fact far from perfect but he is not corrupt and morally bankrupt Like congress.

    • Mr Shekhar Gupta is one of our finest political reporters but perhaps in his haste to buttress his theme of “Modi loosing his political touch”, overlooked the state of the majority of the migrant workforce stuck in places like the GULF that have to be evacuated. The largest repatriation will be from the GCC and I can assure Mr Gupta and his readers, those workers are really in a precarious position. In their own version of a lockdown, unable to earn, unable to even buy food for themselves – if not India, then whom would come to their aid? I do agree, we should have done better for the migrant workers within India and perhaps as someone suggested on these pages a few days back, India needs a modal agency to attend to the migrant workers across India (“their own MEA”) on a permanent basis. That’s a plan for the future which perhaps this crisis can teach the Govt. Yet, it does not discount for a moment the state of India’s vulnerable workers who need repatriation from overseas. Even members of the middle class do not have unlimited resources and would rather be in India, their homeland, than languishing in foreign territory with few rights (GCC) and no Income. In Singapore, the idolized smart city of our time, their Govt chose to distribute masks early on to everyone EXCEPT the migrant workers. Not a smart approach nor a humane one. As for the public “messaging”, perhaps the Govt is trying to build Narional morale around a common theme, common experience and instilling a sense of “we are in this together”? The lack of equality of treatment doesn’t make the Information Age we live in not count- in fact leaving the space open simply means it’ll be filled by someone else’s message.

  35. Shekharji, dont spew venom on Modiji as his popularity throughout India – urban or rural has skyrocketed. Ridiculous to think that Modiji is loosing his touch, typical Lutyens media fantasies, no matter how much you root for RaGa, he aint coming back stupid -:)

  36. The PM’s anti-elite appeal comes from incessantly running down Congress/Nehru-Gandhis. It is a negative appeal -there is nothing positive. He has not become a self-made businessman, artist or professional inspite of his humble origins, he has no personal experience of what it takes to succeed in India against great odds. He has been a RSS pracharak who achieved power due to his RSS mentors and seniors like Advani. So naturally he has no empathy for anyone – be it businesses or labourers or professionals. His puppy dog under the car remark should have been enough to dispel any doubts.
    He needs to address his middle class base because they are getting restive – and he needs to soothe them and be able to be in a position to say that he took care of them – hence air travel and waiver of tax dues to industrialists. The poor are going to vote for him, come what may. 2019 elections have clearly shown that the working class will stick to the PMs message of strong leader who can teach Pakistan a lesson – never mind the DeMo queues/job losses/migrant troubles. As long as Pakistan has been shown it’s place all else is of no consequence. Plus Indians want to play safe always – they will not even look at any alternatives. RG can scream himself hoarse about NYAY, economic mismanagement and coronavirus preparedness – working class could care less.
    The biggest irony is the message that the PM even if he loses power would happily recede into the background. It has never happened since 2001. The Gandhis lost power many times since then and have carried on – the PM never once – so we really don’t know if he can live without power.

  37. When we people understand that the country is going through a tougher phase
    So Think India Think
    Late is better than never holding hands of each other and defeat the wrong polices and try to correct the derailed system

  38. Modi hain tho mumkin hai. As Mr Gupta says BJP can make an event out of nothing. I may even add that several Indians feel that we are all breathing because of the good karma of one single individual. He starts his day at 4 AM to pray for well being of all of us fellow Indians particularly Hindus . He cannot do anything wrong. Like a thousand year reich promised by the NAZIs , whether we like it or not BJP is with us for years to come. Why grudge?

  39. The government made an oversight and did not think about the migrant labourers at the start of the lockdown. Now, when it celebrates the “Indians coming home”, it might appear to be rubbing salts on the wounds of poor.
    The idea is “heart of Modi government being at the right place” which saves the government from any major electoral loss in case the ideas do not work out. This idea might be running out of gas if they continue this way.

  40. The state government could not retain them in cities as their employer not knowing how things would fare ditched them as they were all temp workers and fired first in the event of any financial crisis. Here, the state governments in the whole of India failed to assure them of safety and food and job opportunities later. Also, social distancing norms will dictate less employment in the near future. Now their own home state governments can become their messiah by taking good care of them and use them to set up new industries in their states. Eventually, they will return but now they know that their village is a better place to pass this difficult time.

  41. What comment should I give. Situation is extremely bad & I have been writing about many issues on twitter but there are no one in this Govt.to bother about the poor. Where is the money of PM cares fund where first right on this money is of the poor people on road. Feels like crying at the plight of poor.Sorry if I have written any thing wrong & my personal views. Don’t know what to do.

  42. I don’t know about his political skills but yes, he has forgotten the most ordinary Indian citizen. I just spoke to a group of 25 workers in Chennai who want to walk home to UP!! Who is going to think about them?

  43. Ruling class will get the priority. Majority among them will determine who will represent them at the top. Ruled can be given the bottle of Hindu Muslim hatred to keep them busy.

  44. FAKE HEADLINES. Why are you lying. It’s time to speak truth. ICMR AND WHO have insisted that people be quarantined who come from other places. States are refusing by insisting they are not equipped
    Shame on you for such blatant disregard for truth.

    • WHO and ICMR care about pandemic, not about hunger and death by hunger, that is the responsibility of the central and state governments. Yes quarantine, yes do the lockdown, but was it that difficult to think about daily wagers in advance, to think that they will not get money or food and they will try to walk home? This is exactly Shekhar Gupta is saying, you are a middle class man who know nothing about daily wager, you sit in your livingrom to watch tv or read twitter and Facebook and gossip on what’s app. The reality is very harsh for daily wager.

  45. Agree. Historical evaluation of every prime minister is essential and will be done in due course. Popularity, obviously no criterion to judge a leader. Every PM was occupying the seat of power because he/she was popular in his/her time. How he/she has handled power is the acid test. Modi , I believe, is a still a work in progress. Complete evaluation cannot be done now. However, a major blemish stuck to his tenure is obviously demonetisation. Next, now it seems, is handling of the migrant workers’ issue. The contrast is stark. NRIs have been afforded VIP treatment. They will be paying for their journey home, is no justification to mistreat the poor domestic unorganised migrants. The Corona Episode is Modi’s acid test. His overall evaluation will depend on how he handles the crisis. Major deficiencies so far seem to be following : (1) Lockdown declared as a knee-jerk reaction. No proper planning. WTO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic on March 13th. Proper planning was required to be done. Instead the decision making was shrouded in utter secrecy, which was quite unnecessary. Migrants, therefore, could not plan their journey back home. (2) Over-reliance on bureaucrats. The impression from his style of functioning is that cabinet ministers have no role and no recognition. They are there for the namesake. The government is run through trusted secretaries and the PMO. I am no Modi hater. I wish him well. But I sincerely feel that he should introspect and do self-correction.

  46. In this time of national crisis, what has RahulG done for the poor?
    He conducted a few interviews in English via Zoom, criticized without contribution and made a general nuisance of himself.
    Mr Gupta how about an article addressing Mr. Gandhi’s impact on the Covid crisis from March to May – isn’t RahulG supposed to be the PM (permanently) in waiting and a great ‘Leader’ of the Indian masses?

  47. Mr. Gupta. I’m confused. In an earlier article you had said Modi’s target group for votes is not the poor and very poor. That they don’t care too much and will vote for him if basic needs are met. ( Which will surely be met by 2024) But here you state that he is losing his touch bcos he is not catering to the very poor. Who is Modi’s vote bank according to you.

  48. Just because it’s not reported (by The Print) doesn’t mean it did not happen – Mr Gupta fails to take this into account when he insinuates that PM Modi did nothing for the poor.

  49. The gulf workers are also called as “NRI” but their conditions are not better. The moment they loose their job and they can’t survive in Middle East, as most of the governments run the countries like companies. You lost your job so immediately get rid of my place is the attitude.

    The points written below is fully correct when we talks about those NRI who live in Western World.

  50. Replace Modi for the sake of country”The Great India”
    Modi Govt. destroyed all institutions by inducting their loyalist deteriorated Indian face (Chera Bigarna)
    Coronavirus Pandemic exposed Modi’s real face of six years failure, incompetency, mismanagement during only 45 days of lock down. Any disaster with Modi’s adventure may take country on the verge of bankruptcy; Replace Modi for the sake of country”The Great India”

  51. In times of urgency or times like pandemic, you choose your close ones. That’s what this government and its party did, i don’t know whats the surprise here. Worry is when the ditched people is going to understand they are disposable for this establishment and make wise choice in future. They should stop falling for gimmicks and theatrics pulled by this party and its affiliates.

  52. Very nice article. Atleast someone in the journalism profession can see and report the insensitivity towards the unprivileged. Due to professionals like Shekhar Gupta and Prannoy Roy I feel like reading the newsroom articles and shows

  53. More than poor , Narendra Modi appears to have lost touch in economic matters. For poor, Garib kalyan Yojana, subsidized food and small amount of financial help is being given, but when it comes to economy , he appears clueless, unwilling to offer any stimulus/ meaningful steps to revive economy.

  54. The Govt’s efforts in bringing people home should be celebrated. It raises spirits in these tough times.
    Does anyone seriously believe that PM Modi hasn’t done anything for the poor migrants? A more believable scenario is that The Print has selectively NOT REPORTED the support provided to the poor & the migrants.
    Mr Gupta, you raise the question “Is Narendra Modi losing his touch?”.
    A more appropriate question would be “Is Mr. Shekhar Gupta losing his touch?”.

  55. very good and true article ? Modi is making fool to us , speaking lies ? most news channel praising MODI everyday without any reason. Now this is the time to think about the Nation but aaj tak,republic india,zee news and most are busy running their agenda along with Modi ? stop watching baseless TV news channel.

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