Contagion and our Constitution – Pandemic and Preamble

The architect of our constitution felt that it is workable, flexible and strong enough to hold the country together both in peace and war time. If in recent times we have Covid-warriors and Covid war-rooms that mean we are indeed at war.

The Preamble indicates the basic structure of the Indian constitution which cannot be changed in any case or situation. Unfortunately, Coronavirus has not only attacked the respiratory system of its victims but also pounced on the heart of our constitution- that is its Preamble.


          Sovereign Modi handed out himself a second stint by war cry of Pulwama attack making voters believe that it is only him who can ensure India’s external sovereignty.

If the richest 1% has cornered 73% of a country’s wealth, it’s definitely not a socialist nation. Covid-19 has proved to be holocaust for nations with capitalistic approach to healthcare, the United States being a perfect example. In spite of healthcare spending of more than 17% of its GDP it has been worst Covid performer. India, trying to copycat US healthcare model but with a dismal 1% health budget is bound to fare more badly than the worst. The ghost of capitalism has come to haunt countries who took healthcare as commodity rather than responsibility.

          The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimates about 1 million Covid deaths in US and 1.5 million deaths in India by August end of 2021. Comparatively, it predicts less than 5000 deaths in China and less than 500 in New Zeeland by this August end. This striking contrast is the result of difference of political will and priorities to deal with the same virus.

On one side was Namaste Trump last year building a wall not only to cover his inadequacies but also his poor foresight to deal with this pandemic. Perhaps, this is how capitalist-controlled states function. On the other were China, New Zeeland and the state of Kerela in India countering Covid as a welfare-state.

Covidization of society has also conveniently led to lay the blame squarely on minority religion breaking the secular fabric. Prosecuting the Tablighi Jamaat even when the transmission rate was low whilst allowing Kumbh mela at times of high infectivity and allocating tax payers money to spread the deadly virus smacks of religion bias.

Prior to the pandemic, India’s biggest CAA detention centre to house 3,000 inmates was being built in Assam. Had our current regime had secular mindset and invested similar time, money and energy in setting up quarantine centres for the Covid affected, things would have been better. The virus doesn’t differentiate on the basis of religion while manifesting its virulence, the current regime does.

Covid-era will be remembered as times when India was downgraded to an “elected autocracy” from democracy by Sweden based V-Dem institute and a “flawed democracy” by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Right on the lines of his friend Donald Trump who coined “Make America great again” which in reality meant to make America white again, Modi’s Hindu-rashtra philosophy is a Swarn theology.

Amatya Sen once remarked that democratic governance is the best antidote to the destructive effects of famine in developing countries. Coronavirus has unveiled a monarch in form of Modi who instilled Covifear and imposed sanitary dictatorship under the guise of Covid pandemic. To put out apprehensions of disease he made us bang taalis and thaalis. Those were the times when the world leaders were strategizing to combat the deadly virus when our elected monarch was scheming out Bihar elections during the first wave and Bengal ballot prior to the deadly second.

To ensure equality to its citizens, India seeks social, economic and political justice through its constitution. If social justice means the absence of privileged classes in the society then who were those who were assisted by the state to flee the country to safe shores in private jets when flights were banned? If political justice means equal political rights to choose their government then who were those who managed a successful coup in Madhya Pradesh and attempted one in Rajasthan, shamelessly at the time of pandemic? If economic justice means equitable distribution of wealth, who are those who are hoarding and black marketing those oxygen cylinders, concentrators and vital life-saving drugs? ‘Apada mein avsar’ (opportunity in disaster) is perhaps an opportunity only for the billionaires to become millionaires.

As far as liberty is concerned, the virus has held liberty of the entire society but in garb of this virus there is selective curtailment of freedom. There were scenes of police lathi-charging migrants trying to get back to their homes and the same force facilitating crowds at political rallies.

As far as equality of opportunity is concerned, the virus is potent in attacking its victims without discrimination but chances of survival are only for those who could procure or purchase oxygen, expensive drugs or ICU beds. Masses were left to die as if they are living in a gas chamber, with oxygen supply to a select few.

As far as fraternity, it seems to be only fostered at international stage as India exported 66 million vaccines worth $108 million to about 100 countries. These would have immunized the full population of Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. In pursuit of being a Vishwaguru, Vaccine-maitri scheme has rendered us Vishwa-Gulam as in current scenario states are begging for vaccines globally to get them imported at all costs.

A plea was filed in Supreme court during pandemic seeking removal of words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ from constitution’s preamble. But as Albert Einstein said – The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it.

Let us tie down the government to chains of constitution to ensure implementation of values enshrined in our preamble in a time of health crisis. This crisis is going to have social, secular, political, economic and democratic ramifications which are going to affect our liberty, equality and fraternity.

Dr Jas Simran Kehal is a practicing Orthopaedic Surgeon



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