Evacuees airlifted from Rome, Italy on their arrival at IGI airport, before being sent to a quarantine facility in New Delhi on 22 March | Photo: PTI
Evacuees airlifted from Rome, Italy on their arrival at IGI airport, before being sent to a quarantine facility in New Delhi | Photo: PTI
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When Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Indians to show gratitude through thalitaali and ghanti on Sunday, the country’s upper middle class and the elites couldn’t stop themselves from proclaiming how great their ‘supreme leader’ was. Some even uploaded videos explaining the ‘scientifically proven’ benefits of sound produced by clapping and ringing of bells — as a measure to kill coronavirus, the pandemic that has tied the entire world up in knots.

Influential personalities like Kamal HassanRajinikanth, Sonu Nigam and several others supported the PM’s call. Soon after, TikTok was flooded with videos of people demonstrating how they were going to clap in their balconies, burst fire crackers and light diyas.

For a country staring at millions of coronavirus cases and deaths possibly in lakhs, it was a sad reminder of public indifference to a major health crisis as thousands of people all over the country came out on the streets Sunday to beat utensils and blow conch shells — because it was a day of celebration, not a curfew.


Also read: Janata curfew is Modi’s 2nd stab at social mobilisation, but it can be a double-edged sword


A gift from abroad

But this indifference is not unique. After all, it is the country’s elites and the middle class who have brought this deadly virus to India. Be it the first case of a Kerala resident returning from China’s Wuhan — where the COVID-19 originated — or that of Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, who came from the UK and slipped through screening spots at the Lucknow Airport to join politicians at parties and social events over the next few days, without alerting anyone about her travel history.

The Uttar Pradesh Police may have booked her for negligence (she was tested and found positive) but will there be any action against the political leaders and others who were partying despite ‘social distancing’ and ‘no handshakes’ and ‘stay at home’ becoming the buzz words, with no less than PM Modi mouthing them?

Speaking of Modi, nearly two months after the coronavirus outbreak in China, his government didn’t see it fit to cancel or limit the India tour of US President Donald Trump and his entourage in late February. Instead, it went ahead as per the planned schedule — trips through three cities in three different states, along with a rally for 1,00,000 people in Ahmedabad — while the state government got a wall built to hide the poor living in the slums.

The elites didn’t cancel their parties and those travelling abroad didn’t stop themselves from bringing the virus back home with them. Ministers and MPs who came in contact with Kanika Kapoor have quarantined themselves. Some like former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh (who later met President Ram Nath Kovind and even went to Parliament) got their test results — negative — within a day when common people have to meet several criteria to even get tested and then wait 5-7 days for the results.


Also read: Beyond speech, Modi must open govt purse for poorer Indians, businesses affected by COVID-19


Sharing it with India’s poor

But India’s wealthy didn’t just bring coronavirus to India; they are now passing it on to the poor and working class too. As journalist Richa Pinto reported, Maharashtra had its first positive COVID-19 case from the underprivileged background only this Thursday. A domestic worker in Mumbai contracted the deadly virus from her employer who had recently returned from the US. “Until Wednesday, it was largely travellers from the affluent class or those with a history of foreign travel who had tested positive for COVID-19” in Maharashtra, which has so far reported the maximum number of cases in India.

Some journalists were also tweeting about their domestic workers  using PM Modi’s speech as an excuse to take leave on Sunday for Janata curfew.

In West Bengal too, the positive COVID-19 case came from the corridors of power. A son of an IAS officer escaped the test for days and was later found to be carrying the virus. The bureaucrat’s mother had by then attended several meetings. There are several cases such as these and many more will likely emerge in the coming months.


Also read: Of a cocktail of drugs and COVID-19, and why this virus is so smart


Yet to loosen the purse strings  

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has shipped millions of face masks and testing kits to African and Asian countries. World’s second-richest person Bill gates had announced $100 million aid in early February. Pop star Rihanna has pledged $5 million for ventilators in hospitals. Hollywood stars Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have pledged a $1 million while designer Versace has offered to pay more than $200,000 to a hospital in Italy. Netflix has created a $100 million relief fund for those in film and TV industry affected by coronavirus.

But what are India’s rich doing? Besides clapping from balconies and expressing their heartfelt gratitude to PM Modi?

We haven’t heard from staunch nationalist Akshay Kumar or Anupam Kher or Left’s favourites Anurag Kashyap and Swara Bhasker or everyone’s megastar Amitabh Bachchan. Nor have India’s billionaire industrialists — the Ambanis and the Adanis — have felt any urgency to offer any support. Anand Mahindra, the owner of Mahindra Group, finally became the only one so far to announce some help — his 100 per cent salary as aid, offering to turn Mahindra resorts into care centres, and planning to make ventilators.

There are many things the rich class in India can do. Not bringing the poor down with them, when they show little heart to lift them up, should be on top of their list. Now more than ever.

Views are personal.

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28 Comments Share Your Views

28 COMMENTS

  1. I suggest first the wealthy temples contribute and second spend no money on statues, new temples, religious functions, promotion of religious tourism., gaushalas and research on medicines based on cow urine or dung till present health crisis is over.

  2. I think author forgot to mention Sharukh khan,salman khan,Aamir khan name or may be intentially didnt donate a penny yet but mention others.
    Blaming to government couldnt work it will be better to support to aware people.
    World is suffering from this so react maturely.
    Print assumed lakhs and lakhs cases in india thats pity and strange too.
    It would be better if anything workable or beneficial is publish instead of blaming.

  3. Why are we pointing fingers at one another during such times? Do what you can to help rather than picking on someone. Maintain social distancing and stay safe and treat everyone equally. Stay positive and spread positivity rather than writing vengeful articles. There’s enough fear ans negativity in the world at the moment. Don’t need this.
    Thanks

  4. I think it is not a suitable time to differentiate between rich and poor in terms of donation or support. It is a self-satisfaction need not glorify. The time is now to practice social distancing not to politicize the humble donations whosoever made it or not. Every contribution whether it through money or through spreading awareness is equal and needed. I am contributing through my blog https://www.fridgeoffacts.com/ to aware people as much as I can. Stay updated, stay home, and stay safe.

  5. Most Indian millionaires are only to flaunt their wealth and good for nothing. Even pro – nationalists like Akshay Kumar and Anupam Kher are only good in clapping. What about Mr. Tendulkar or Bachchan saheb ? Seems like maybe philanthropy is foreign to most Indian millionaires or they are selfish as f**k.

    • May be you were too early to guess
      Help in India will come, but in phases
      Akshay Kumar has given 25 Cr.
      This list will only grow

  6. Very negative article, what has ThePrint done till now ? They are a leading media company right ?
    While it’s true but then this isn’t in anyone’s control, such article only creates divide in the society, nothing else.
    And the writer is narrow minded and has thinking limited to actors online posts and Kanika Kapoor. There are millions of poor Indians working in Middle East, a middle class employee go for their office trips. People dont go just for vacations.
    I think you should delete this, in fact such authors should get banned.
    And for the record, Akshay Kumar has done a lot for the freedom fighters in this country, Amitabh too has done a lot for many NGOs and every other person mentioned in the article have done something good for the country in their own way. They may even contribute going forward. And btw Ambani wala thing u can read online, what they have done for CoronaVirus.
    And Corona wont divide the people between RICH and POOR before infecting. Very Very Very bad article. Such reporters must be banned for life.

    • Politicians during elections go door to door to beg votes , now I ask provide those voters their grocery , or food items since they can’t go out . it’s your turn now to help them . Find a way to help those in need , govt employees get salary sitting at home , retired get pension , celebrities have enuf with them , industrialists the same , politicians are stomuch full for years . What about daily wage workers , people working in Pvt companies let them all commit mass suicide is that the govt wants . Please you corrupt politicians think before taking further steps. I have no fear in putting my thoughts , next time when u beg for vote think in return what you might get. Atleast each leader take care of his own constituency instead of attending unwanted functions better visit to one ward find out the solution.

  7. That’s why I never endorse or admire these fake people..they are good for nothing… I request your newspaper to keep exposing these parasitic groups of film and cricket business

  8. Not only that they want govt to give them package the largest Indian bank is demanding tax cuts . Inko bus long term tax cut Chahiye .

  9. Whatever happens on this ff_ng happens because something or somebody had influenced it to happen. Nature punishes nature but humans should punish humans

    • We are the proud Indians who emerged as the most immune community over the world in the case of the current pandemic. Tell me the name of your country and I will show you the mirror immediately. It is an advice to you not to mess at this time. Go and get quarantine yourself, it is much better for you for now. Come on my twitter handle at https://twitter.com/But_Expected

    • Mr. Ambani spent approx.$100 million towards his daughter’s wedding and 5 Cr towards corona relief… I’m sure he understands the magnitude… Shows his sensibilities..

  10. It doesn’t take long for people who can’t think beyond the ideological to pipe in. Those who travel outside are hardly the rich. Just talk to the millions who go and do menial work all over the middle east. Or look at the Indians who were stuck in cruise ships were almost entirely the crew and the support staff serving the cruising passengers? And then there are many foreigners who come to India as well.

    You need to think beyond the language of the past. This is precisely the thinking that destroyed India’s initiative and gave us enormous corruption. Of course, it serves demagogues like you well.

  11. This is neither time of creating division amongst rich and poor nor Blaming a particular class. Nothing happens in our country on voluntary basis. Mandatory quarantine should be must. Many diseases are endemic amongst poor people too like TB. Govt should launch an account for PM relief fund for viral pandemic and people who can should donate for it. Most of the taxes coming from this rich class for the last 70 yrs which runs our nation. But what is important is we need to control our requirements by controlling population growth for better future prospects and improve tax compliance.

  12. India’s rich who must have donated crores in electoral bonds to make a India see ache din , would have caught the first flight out to London or Venice , unfortunately this time the rich & the famous are fleeing london & bringing the bug along with them . When will the rich &famous open their purse strings for the poor ,my guess is ,we are not going to see anything substantial in the lifetime of this pandemic , of course we can all clap &perhaps hope that the virus dies of depression seeing our rich & famous like this.

  13. what ahve the ambanis ever done except flaunt their wealth and take whatever they could get. one way to ensure india understands who are truly compassionate is to name the donors and what they are giving away. one person who has openend is vedata anil aggarwal who has announced 100 croes… when and how that will come is another matter.

  14. I absolutely agree with the author. What is surprising is that not even any newspaper like the Indian Express has opened any donations online scheme in which ordinary citizens like me could contribute some money. Such monies could be transferred to Aadhar-linked bank accounts of daily wage workers, taxi drivers, and others.

  15. This is india. Our crony capitalism, corruption and now even pandemics only help the rich, to affect the poor. The rich avoid screening, do not follow quarantines and run away from isolation camps affecting scores of ordinary indians

  16. You can’t blame India alone. All over the world, the elites pick it up first and then pass it onto the poor. While it is pathetic, it has nothing inherent to do with India, Indians, or Modi.

  17. As what happened at lucknow party (Kanika’s party). Mantris are not infected? This raise questions on governments intentions? it seems Instead of holding them guilty Government is hiding health bulletin of actual report?. This is exceptional when no one is infected from person carrying COVID-19.
    Or MANTRIS can not get effected?
    All have self qurarintinned themselves !
    Within few hours .
    Yet another big issue big vip culture in testing too !!

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