According to the union health ministry, India registered the biggest single day spike of Covid-19 cases on 25 May 2020 taking the country's tally to138,845, with the death toll climbing to 4,021. The patients’ recovery rate is claimed to be 41.57 percent.
Below are excerpts of an insightful conversation with Shri Upendra Prasad, a senior journalist, that followed publication of my article in this journal on 9 May 2020. A scholar on Gandhi from the post-Independence generation, Shri Prasad also leads a movement, Voice of OBC, through a facebook page which has India-wide 74000 membership.
After nearly two months in the bunker cutting off all social contacts, we are told 3,506,924 people (at the time of writing) got infected with coronavirus worldwide. This has claimed the lives of 247,473 including those of 65,000 in the USA alone. Nearly 1,125,255 patients (32%) recovered, but the pandemic has taken a huge toll on all aspects of people’s lives.
Ever since 15 Dec 2019 when a peaceful protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that turned into disruption and arson around the Delhi Jamia Millia Islamia campus, posters or placards featuring Gandhi were widely displayed.
In the wake of the Delhi riots (Feb. 23-25, 2020), tension or mistrust between the Hindus and the Muslims was bound to rise. At the same time, however, scores of people on both sides were willing to throw themselves into the charged atmosphere to calm the situation. The need of the hour is to salute them on behalf of the nation, bring them together and empower them for the sake of peace and harmony in the community and the country.
Many learned people have been quick to draw parallels between the riots of Feb 2020 and the anti-Sikh pogrom of Oct 1984. The comparison may appear to be ludicrous. However, observers with perspective and experience cannot be stopped from making relative assessments of the two tragic incidents. Both of them took place in the national capital of Delhi.
Do the Biharis (along with other Purvanchalis) really matter in the Delhi Elections to be held on 8 February 2020? Can they tip the electoral balance? What will be the overall result? Here is a brief outline of the electoral scene.
It’s a matter of great pride for the people of Bihar that Jagat Prakash Nadda, a former resident of Patna has taken over the reins of the leadership of the national ruling (political) party, the BJP. An alumnus of Patna University, he actively participated in the 1974 Bihar movement. It’s there, he first honed in on his leadership abilities.
At least two of the Nitish’s hand-picked functionaries of the Janata Dal (U) -- Pawan Varma and Prashant Kishor -- sought to publicly embarrass their boss by questioning his support to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The two might have liked Nitish to distance himself and the party from the BJP or flip to the other side to defeat the agenda of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
Being an important functionary of the JD(U) party wherein he knows he was installed as the Vice-President (with a heavy-hand arbitrarily without following inner-party democratic process), Prashant Kishor (b. 1977) may speak up on behalf of the PARTY, but not on behalf of the GOVERNMENT.
The BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi, in its second term, has taken a number of steps in quick succession affecting the Muslims: abrogation of Triple Talaq, alteration in the status of Kashmir, and then the National Citizens’ Registry (NCR) and Citizens Amendment Act (CAA). The Supreme Court judgement on a long-pending Ayodhya Masjid case fell in between and that is also taken as an anti-Muslim event.
In order to dispel the fear of the Muslims that the BJP government at the center is out to disenfranchise them, take away their rights and possibly expel them from India, the Hindus will have to engage them in a dialogue with the best of intentions.
On Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birthday (2 Oct 2019), the Hamilton Interfaith Group (HIFG), organized an interfaith prayer meeting at the City Hall, Hamilton (Ontario, Canada) to pay tribute to that messenger of Peace.