Actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) leader Kamal Haasan slammed the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling it an “ill-planned move that led to a fatal combination of loss of both life and livelihood”. PM Modi had announced a nation-wide curfew on March 24 to contain the spread of coronavirus which has claimed over 100 lives so far across the country.
In an open letter to PM Modi, Haasan wrote, “My biggest fear is that the same mistake of demonetisation is being repeated albeit at a much bigger scale. While demonetization led to loss of savings and livelihood of the poorest, this ill-planned lockdown is leading us to a fatal combination of loss of both life and livelihood. The poor have nobody to look upto except you sir. On one hand you are asking the more privileged people to put up a spectacle of lights while on the other hand the poor man’s plight is itself becoming a shameful spectacle. While your world lit up oil diyas in their balconies, the poor are struggling to gather enough oil to bake their next roti.”
Saying that Modi’s ‘psychotherapy techniques to address the first world anxiety problems of the ‘haves’ who have a balcony to cheer’, the actor wrote that he was sure the Prime Minister didn’t want to be a ‘balcony government only for the balcony people’ by ignoring the poor who are the biggest constituent of our society.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) April 6, 2020
Raising the issue of migration of labourers from cities, Haasan wrote, “This is the first crisis, the first epidemic that the top of the society has inflicted upon the bottom. And the topmost, i.e, you sir seem interested in bailing out everybody but those at the bottom. As millions of daily wage labourers, house-helps, street-cart vendors, auto-rickshaw & taxi drivers and helpless migrant workers struggle to see light at the end of the tunnel, we seem to be securing only an already well-built middle-class fortress.”
He further wrote, “I would like to see you doing more to secure everybody’s fortress and ensure that nobody goes to bed hungry. Covid-19 will continue to find more victims but we are creating a fertile playground for Hunger(H), Exhaustion(E) and Deprivation(D) of the poor. HED ’20 is a malady that is smaller in profile but far deadlier compared to Covid-19. It’s impact will be felt long after Covid-19 has vanished.”
He said the common people cannot be blamed for being ill-prepared for a crisis of this magnitude. “Events of these magnitude get etched in history for two reasons, one being the devastation (illness and death) that they cause due to their core nature. The second being the long term impact of what they teach humans to prioritise and the kind of socio-cultural changes they bring about. I am extremely saddened to see our society plagued by an outbreak that is far more dangerous and longer lasting that any virus that nature has ever hurled at us”, wrote Kamal.
Commenting on Modi’s campaigns to appreciate healthcare workers for 5 minutes on March 29 and to stand in solidarity with the nation during the light-out exercise on April 5, Kamal said, “Every time there is a feeling that we have a chance to arrest the slide, you seem to be sliding into your comfort zone of unleashing a spirited election-style campaign idea. It seems you are comfortable outsourcing responsible behavior to the common people and transparency to the state governments. This is the perception you are creating, especially amongst those who spend enough time working toward and intellectualizing for a great today and tomorrow for India.”
“The focus on merely keeping people’s spirits alive through warm and fuzzy campaigning is probably leading your establishment into ignoring certain actionables that could actually save lives,” he wrote.
The MNM leader urged Modi to listen to the “voices of the people who care and call upon everyone to come over to his side to help.”
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