India is suddenly faced by serious problems on too many fronts. There is a serious health crisis not just due to COVID-19 but also due to the unfortunate neglect of non-COVID health problems and priorities for several continuing weeks which has resulted in a serious health crisis of its own.
Then there is the equally avoidable economic and livelihood crisis. This could have been reduced to a large extent if a strategy of balancing covid-response with our essential livelihood needs was followed. As the livelihood crisis became too serious and prolonged, there is now a pressing responsibility of looking after the survival needs of millions of very vulnerable people. Several disasters including cyclones added to the number of people in extreme need and in fact facing a survival crisis.
In the middle of this came the increasing aggression of China resulting in a very serious security situation as China has been following a policy of encircling India and the aggressiveness and hostility of other neighboring countries has also increased in the process.
All this together constitutes a serious national crisis. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by it we should assert strongly our commitment to resolving this admittedly very difficult situation within the democratic framework .
If we have to emphasize one single factor for success in this then clearly this is unity—a genuine unity based not on rhetoric and slogans but a unity based on equality and justice. Unfortunately in recent years powerful sections of our society and elites have been moving away from this ideal as several injustices to minorities have taken place and communal harmony has been mocked. This time of increasing difficulties is just the right time for the government and powerful elites to make amends and send messages backed by actions which reassure the Indian masses that the commitment to unity based on equality, justice and non-discrimination as enshrined in our constitution will be honored by them. A special effort should be made to take this message to border areas.
This unity is important not just for resisting foreign aggression but also for community actions throughout the country for helping poor and vulnerable people, whether they are migrant workers, marginalized people or people devastated by cyclones or other disasters.
In addition we badly need better policy responses. Our response to COVID-19 should be balanced by linking it to the fulfillment of all other essential needs and priorities. On the border areas we need to steadily increase and improve our ability to meet any further aggression, while at the same initiating wider efforts for de-escalation and avoiding any aggression on our part.
As more resources are needed at the same time for defence as well for meeting the survival needs of a very large number of people , this too in a situation of declining revenue receipts, a transparent exercise regarding meeting all priority and essential expenditures should be carried out, leading up to the presentation of a new mid-year budget within a month or two.
Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements.