Religious sentiments accompanied by a charismatic leadership mixed with political aspiration is the best tool for public mobilization, and Mr Modi knows it. The Indian government has chosen a tactful method to shift the attention of public from the lacunas of the government to the shortcomings of the public. In his addresses, Mr. Modi has repeatedly asked form the people and their help, asking them to beat thalis and light up candles while hiding the policies of the government regarding the Corona pandemic.
Political leadership have a tendency to fall back to superstition when it comes to hide their face in times of crisis. There is two-fold benefit for them. Firstly, superstition actions are never wrong, since everything is ephemeral, change does happen. Secondly, government can own all the authority to claim and people will believe that their thalis and candles helped a lot. The actions of people beating thali and lighting candles is the inculcation of everyone into this fight against Covid-19 physically. This makes the general people feel of worth and they identify this as something being done in national interest. So, making people believe that they have helped physically and getting the consensus among the people will not be difficult as people already believe so. And in this way, the citizenry will become all the more dependent on a top supreme leadership who assigns them works to do, so that they can survive and life. The charisma will only show upward mobility and people will be turned into subjects. The subjects, in such atmosphere become dehumanized on the face of “limit situation” and generally develop a fear of freedom. They lose the hope and become completely hegemonised. Losing all hope in themselves becomes for them the apparent liberation.
The people of India are showing the classic case of Herbert Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man” in which he argues that due to incessant propaganda and misinterpretation of facts and information, the people in a particular political structure become so much accustomed, that they cannot visualize any viable alternative. They see everything else as good but not practically viable. In Indian context, this is reflected in the political choice of the people, when we say we do not have any other option, strong leadership against Mr. Modi and BJP. This only boost the dominance of the incumbent political party and gives them immunity to do anything. Even transform a democratic nation-state into a “Theater State”, where the state functions only as a mere audience who holds all the power, does nothing and escapes its duty by assigning the work on the people themselves while at the same time keeping them completely undermined. Mr. Modi is doing just the same. He knows how India functions, relies less on science and development, more on culture and religion. And therefore he is giving what the people want, a distraction just like Nero of Rome who gladly watched gladiators fight in massive colosseum while the nation burned to ashes. And if this continues, our end will suffer the same doom as did the Empire of Nero.
Nafis Haider is a student of Political Science and Philosophy at Aligarh Muslim University. He tweets at @NafisHaider7