- Even India’s industrialists think they are exempt from any acts of charity or public good.
- India critically needs ventilators and coronavirus test kits.
The rich and the powerful in India think they are different. Despite the coronavirus global pandemic cutting a deadly swathe through the world and India, our deeply feudal society still thinks they are exempt from the virus.
And our strong Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks that India collectively banging thalis (metal plate) is a tribute to the many providing frontline care in the battle against coronavirus.
Kanika Kapoor, singer, (did a special tribute song to Modi in the Wembley stadium in London) now in quarantine after being diagnosed coronavirus positive, decided that her celebrity status was protection enough.
On her return from the United Kingdom, she bypassed screening and went on to Lucknow where she attended three parties, which included as guests former chief minister of Rajasthan Vasundra Raje Scindia and her son Dushyant Singh, BJP Member of Parliament.
Singh then went on to Parliament and attended a breakfast with the President of India Ram Nath Kovind.
Three questions remain unanswered in this criminally derelict behaviour.
Did someone in the government order “special handling” for Kapoor?
All of India was aware of the threat from coronavirus so why were the rich and the powerful partying away? Why did Kovind continue to host breakfast and lunch meetings with MP’s?
Shouldn’t the head of the republic set an example to the rest of India of sanity and restraint?
No. Because being in power means a free ticket of loaded privilege and lack of accountability.
Sense of entitlement
Take the case of a senior West Bengal official. The doting mother allowed her son returning from the UK to dodge quarantine and continue his party going ways. She even accompanied him to a mall. It is unknown currently how many people the mother and son infected.
Even India’s industrialists think they are exempt from any acts of charity or public good. India critically needs ventilators and coronavirus test kits. Jack Ma, the richest man in China, has publicly pledged to provide millions of kits. So has Tim Cook of Apple who is donating millions of masks. So what have the Indian billionaires, much lionised and feted in the press for their opulent billion-dollar weddings, contributed?
The answer is nothing.
Yes some have publicly pledged to support Modi’s thali banging by saying as Anand Mahindra did that he would be in his balcony with his entire family to bang thalis.
Is that all that a leader of industry can do?
India Inc has maintained a deafening silence on any support in the fight against coronavirus. They probably believe cocooned in their entitlement that it is for the government alone to fight the epidemic. The billions they have should only be used for the vulgar, tacky billion dollar spectacle that is the weddings they organise. Or the private jets they buy.
Read more from Swati Chaturvedi
The lack of charity and empathy displayed by the Indian billionaires is India’s dirty little secret. Most billionaires across the world try and give back to society and show some compassion. India’s live in a privileged bubble.
The sense of entitlement is what unites the powerful across Indian society. They think that a virus will respect their status. And the coronavirus will happen to only poor people who serve them and whose hygiene they can’t stop complaining about.
But a virus is no respecter of status. And in India it is the rich who are spreading the contagion to the poor.
The coronavirus has set off a bonfire of the vanities to quote Tom Wolfe. It is changing the world. India needs to change to fight the pandemic or we will fail.