Obituary to Dr. Vinayak Purohit
How do I write an obituary for a person who continues to live for me in the concept of India! He is Sir to me. Sir do forgive me, when in 2014 Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister of India, I told my mind to shut up as far as governance of India is concerned. I am not a critic by nature like you. Had you been alive I do not know what you would have done. Writing about the status of governance in these challenging times would definitely be your work.
In 1991–92 I worked for a year with Dr. Vinayak Purohit, a freedom fighter, sociologist, socialist, an author, a dramatist and an art critic. I had just cleared MA with English Literature through correspondence. I responded to an advertised via a Post Box number for an MA with good handwriting to take long dictation. In those days matter had to be sent to the typist and then it would be proof read. Purohit Sir’s handwriting was not legible so he had to get someone to write while he dictated his thoughts. He was writing Ten Essays in Indian History, these were not essays on History, but how History should be written. They became around twenty five essays and he published them in Mankind, Ram Manohar Lohia’s magazine which he restarted. When I became familiar with him, I asked, what was the need to advertise for a Masters for simple long dictation? He replied bluntly, he could not dictate to a person, who would not understand the matter being dictated. He was advised by doctors to work only four hours. He would dictate these four hours with a break for breakfast and insulin injection thereafter. He was 72 then. Sir was my teacher to the understanding of citizenship of nation and world. It is citizenship of the India that stopped me from saying anything against Mr. Modi. He was after all the Prime Minister of India, the country where I hold citizenship as I was born here. He still is but now I am going to utilize my constitution rights and critique his governance which earlier I did not.
Not commenting on ongoing discrepancies was a way of preserving energy to teach democratic values and critical perspective with a fervour I did not know I possessed. I had started sharpening the critical perspective of Women’s Studies. Even though Women’s Studies in India originated under pretext of Emergency declared in 1975 I obviously did not have much hope even from the then ruling party, but then rulers have a religion of their own. Any issue that would tend to trouble me after 2014, I would use this concept, as an agent to dilute my rage. After all if I raise my unfettered thoughts then I would be tainting the position of democratically elected Prime Minister of India and therefore people of India who elected him. What bugged me most about Mr. Modi getting elected was not that he belonged to a party with an ideology against the tenets of the Constitution of India but that he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the carnage happened in 2002. I was not able to go personally for Fact Finding as I was unwell but reading 4 Fact Finding Reports one after another, did nothing to better my health. The situation in Gujarat was no better when I eventually managed to go after a month. I amaze myself with my biases.
Since 2014 I kept silent mentally through the swachh bharat mission, demonitisation, mob linching, arresting and killing of activists, 370 in Kashmir, NPR, CAA and lockdown, not to forget the constant jingoism about nationality. I was peacefully trying to accept the lockdown as I am programmed to not get bored. But this is not about me or people who can afford to sit home for a month and half, starting on 22 March 2020, 55 days to be exact on 12 May 2020. 12 May when I got to know about the Vande Bharat Mission and that it has been going on since 6 May my patience with this (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/149-flights-to-bring-back-indians-from-31-nations-from-may-16-22-sources/story-cmyHwBaOfZs2PfMPhcl0eM.html) governance broke. I am happy for planes being sent for stranded Indians in foreign lands who can pay for transport but then the question comes are the working class stranded in India not Indians. Why were they allowed to go hungry and forced to walk to their native places?
Let me let go my subjectivity and come to some facts to justify having Dr. Vinayak Purohit as my Sir. Has anyone tried to get loan during lockdown? https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/04/02/world-bank-fast-tracks-1-billion-covid-19-support-for-india — This news from World Bank site is dated 2nd April 2020. Even if World Bank fast tracked when would have the loan for 1 billion dollar been applied for? I am presuming people are aware that World Bank aid is always a repayable loan at a certain interest with strings attached to it. The governments in power, irrespective of State and Central and the respective parties had had to plan for getting this from World Bank. This kind of support could not have materialized without prior planning and implementation. I have not seen any Indian newspapers analyze the economics of this support. Why this news of I billion dollar support was not given due media coverage is another issue which questions the right of Indians to know what is happening. When those in governance can plan for how much support a country needs for COVID 19 they surely are aware of how many citizens of India need support and what kind of support. 15 May afternoon news on radio said that India has got 1 billion dollar support from World Bank. Anyone would make the mistake that 2 April news is being aired now. 15 May at night India Today telecasted an interview of Mr. Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director India, that this was another support, the earlier one being on health programme around the world and this second one is because of the impact COVID 19 has had on migrant workers and workers in unorganized sector to be delivered on Monday. (https://www.indiatoday.in/india/video/exclusive-world-bank-usd-billion-social-protection-package-available-monday-junaid-ahmad-1678313-2020-05-15?jwsource=fb&fbclid=IwAR3oRXyAS55fpynqSjywHv9AfYSLeqRYYgWTJOQqMH2MCc5MQzeVgGprYVM) Today 16.05.2020 national news suddenly wakes up with concern for migrant workers to not walk but transport being arranged to take them to their destinations.
But Draupadi had already been disrobed publicly. What has happened during lockdown to migrant and unorganized working class in India tantamount to disrobing Draupadi. Now whose respect will the governance try to secure with World Bank assistance? Those in governance cannot deny their awareness of Dushashan’s disrobing of Draupadi. The governing class, again irrespective of the party they belong to, cannot deny awareness of migrant workers’ conditions in India. Why I am harping on planning to get World Bank support is because in the same manner support to India’s huge migrant working class could have been planned. It is difficult to imagine a Prime Minister, who continued with Mr. Trump’s Gujarat visit knowing about COVID 19, ordered a three week Lockdown in India thereafter, got it implemented, who could get most Indians sitting comfortably in homes to light lamps, clap for doctors, extended the lockdown for another three weeks, get 1 billion dollars World Bank support on 2 April, get army, navy and air force to shower flower petals for doctors instead of getting PPE for them and another billion dollar World Bank aid on 15 May, was/is incapable of thinking about the huge number of workers all over the country who he claims to be his family. Third week of January 2020 states got intimation from centre about COVID 19 and if Kerala could put check on airports on incoming traffic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ua5MMtHTyU&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2FKOT36szHqDa-R0ABfLzsWr5nyjxCHoRt8KOJNi0NrxqHMT7oh1UYZ0A), why were unorganized workers left to fend for themselves. If this is done on purpose then the governance cannot deny knowledge of what happened to not only Kauravas but also Pandavas after disrobing Draupadi.
I am not going into World Bank’s perspective of why the organization agreed to give two consecutive supports in so short a period. I find it hard to think of the word magnanimous in terms of any Bank let alone World Bank. Dr. Purohit had said — I will quote him here, had he been alive he with his photographic memory would have said much more, ‘In all operations of World Bank the patient dies on the table’. Could there be an RTI Act that could assess actions of World Bank.
I have been drilled by older women to have faith in the wisdom of people of this subcontinent and their strength to cope with odds, rulers come and go. Dr. Purohit are you listening?