The Bubble has Burst

By HH Mohrmen

The second wave of COVID-19 which hit the nation has changed people’s (especially of those outside the country) perceptions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that of the country as a whole. The international media in nearly every corner of the world does not have kind words for the government’s mishandling of the second wave of the pandemic. The PM and his party may find solace in the fact that some media outlets in the country are less critical about the way both the state and the central government handles the pandemic attack, yet it cannot be denied that the image that the PM has so painstakingly built for himself has gone for a toss.
The support of some local media may give the BJP-led NDA government a false sense of confidence that its base (local supporters) is still intact. They may make others believe that citizens of the country are aware of and appreciate the government’s position vis-à-vis the current COVID-19 situation, which is also true in some ways. But the fact remains that the image of Prime Minister Modi in the international arena has crashed and this is something that cannot be denied.
Till a few months before the first wave of COVID-19 attack the ruling dispensation were boasting about the great Indian economy. They were projecting that the country’s economy will hit the five trillion mark in no time. Till early 2020 ‘the five trillion economy’ was on the lips of every leader of the BJP but after the pandemic attack last year, one does not hear about the projected economy anymore as the salvo fall silence. The pandemic brought the campaign of pushing the economy of the country to a five trillion mark to come to a grinding halt.
The Pharma and Vaccination Producer of the world
There were also claims that India is the Pharmacy of the world as it is the largest manufacturers and exporters of medicines in the world, but today that claim is also questionable as the COVID-19 patients also lost their battle because of the lack of life-saving medicines. The pharmacy of the world finds itself having to bend on its knees when the second wave COVID-19 attack hit the country.
At one point of time all eyes of the world turned to India with hope because they see the country as the vaccine manufacture of the world. It is true that India is the only country which has the wherewithal in place to produce more vaccine than any country in the world. The capacity for mass production of vaccine in the country gives the world hope that India will be able to supply their countries enough vaccine to get its citizens vaccinated. But despite the country having two approved vaccines, namely Covaxin and Covishield, the task of providing its more than one billion population vaccination is not going to be an easy task. So if the country is to vaccinate the entire population in the stipulated time, will the local production be adequate?
The question is if India has the potential of producing the largest numbers of vaccines and the country already has two approved vaccines in a record time, why can’t the government vaccinate all its citizens vaccination? The government has announced that it will start vaccinating citizens who are above 18 from the first of May, but many states complained that they do not have enough vaccines in stock. We were boasting about our health care facility as one of the best in the world and at one point of time there were talks of promoting health tourism in the country, for our neighbouring countries but the pandemic and particularly the second wave has proven to the world how fragile our healthcare system is. India is also believed to be the largest producer of liquid or medical oxygen but the second wave of COVID-19 attack has proven how ill-equipped we are as most of the COVID-19 patients died due to lack of medical oxygen supply.
The second wave of the pandemic attack has illustrated that the strength that we believe the country has is false, (be it on vaccination production, our healthcare system or oxygen production) or perhaps there is something wrong with way the entire system is managed. The truth is that the country has failed its duty to its citizens as many have lost their lives to COVID-19. In the process their relatives and friends have unduly, untimely and unfortunately lost their near and dear ones because the system has failed them. The truth is the second attack of the pandemic has not only shown to the world the real image of the country but more importantly it has drawn the mask off the face of this country’s leaders.
The man and his image
The tragic incident in the country has established that the image management was all that Modi indulged in. It was not his real image. Since he first projected himself as the prime ministerial candidate, Modi has invested hugely in image management. He sells himself to the country and the world as a person who started from a humble beginning. The narrative he constructs is that he rose from being a tea seller to PM. The common citizens of this country empathised with that. From a tea seller to the highest office of the Prime Mister is a very inspiring story. When this narrative was just doing the rounds, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said let him come selling tea at our conferences. Little did Aiyar know that this man was going to win the elections and become the prime minister of this country.
Some of the images that one will remember of the PM is that of a pious man who makes frequent visits to temples, who practices yoga regularly in his black gym suit. Another image that the prime minster aggressively promoted is that of a very devout man. After the campaigning in the last general election concluded, he spent his time rejuvenating himself by meditating (albeit with camera man taking his photographs as he was meditating) inside a cave. A man who feeds bird and peacocks is another image which the PM had created for himself.
A PM in love with the camera
The Prime Minister’s love for the camera is well known. This is established by the clips where Modi gestured to his security to move away from the frame as he was obstructing the camera person capturing his image. The PM gesturing to the security person for coming in between the man and the camera is a clip which speaks a thousand words. But what has happened in the last few weeks from campaigning in the election rally (in spite of the second wave attack and the catastrophe that followed), tells us so much about the man behind the garb.
Busting of the image
Unlike some media in the country, the media around the world does not have to toe the government line and the government cannot force them to write rejoinders for stories that they have published against the government no matter how damaging the report is. It is ironic that the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines has to now beg for vaccines and the Pharmacy of the world does not have enough medicines for its own people. It is also an unbelievable fall from grace that country which was once the largest producer of liquid or medical oxygen has to now depend on the neighbouring countries for the supply of oxygen for its patients. It is now obvious that the perception of the people particularly that of the outside world about the country and the prime minister which has been so carefully built has finally collapsed. It seems that it was just a bubble and the bubble has now burst.
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