Prime Minister Modi’s terrible mishandling of his country’s 21-day lockdown demand has created a self-inflicted humanitarian crisis of extreme proportions in the world’s second most populous state. The government abruptly ordered a mandatory three-week quarantine across the country as an emergency response to World War C, fearing that the densely populated, “super poor“, and generally underdeveloped nation is at serious risk of becoming “the world’s main battlefield in the fight against Covid-19“, as RT contributor and former Indian naval intelligence officer Shishir Upadhaya recently put it. He’s right, though, as even the author of the present article asked last week, “Can South Asia Survive World War C?“, for many of the same reasons. The reader should be informed that 22% of India’s population live in poverty , and the country comprises 24% of the total people in the world living in extreme poverty according to the World Bank, which is more than any other nation. Unsurprisingly, then, the sudden lockdown announcement sparked panic among India’s millions of internal economic migrants, many of whom are day laborers that live hand to mouth and cannot afford to miss even a single day’s worth of wages if they hope to avoid the Damocles’ swords of starvation and homelessness.
These desperate people, which the BBC estimates to be in the “millions” in their related piece on the topic titled “Coronavirus: India’s Pandemic Lockdown Turns Into Human Tragedy“, fled their cities of temporary residence to return back home to their villages where they feel more confident of their chances for surviving World War C. Apart from being extremely poor, these “Modi Migrants” as the author has taken to calling them due to their Prime Minister’s policy being the direct cause of their present travails, are also likely to be among the 14,5% of the population that’s undernourished, and might even be parents to one of the 3,000 children that die of starvation in India each day. Without any income for three weeks, they fear that they won’t be able to afford the roofs over their and their family’s heads, let alone fill their bellies with enough food and water to live another day. It’s for this reason why they panicked and decided to try their chances of survival back home in the rural communities where many of them come from, where they might be able to rely on personal support networks and possibly even forage for food in the worst-case scenario.
Other than their sudden large-scale migration being a self-inflicted humanitarian crisis in and of itself, there’s a credible fear that some of these “Modi Migrants” might already be infected with COVID-19, thus increasing the chances that they could become “super-spreaders” as they travel across the country in their densely packed caravans en route to some of India’s most remote and underdeveloped regions that are utterly incapable of properly responding to this outbreak. It’s for this reason why Prime Minister Modi unprecedentedly asked for forgiveness from his nation’s poor for the socio-economic toll of his terribly mishandled policy that clearly wasn’t thought out whatsoever at all by his country’s “strategists” or policymakers. The government is pleading with the “Modi Migrants” to remain where they are, promising them food and shelter until the three-week quarantine ends, but many don’t believe that this support will ever be forthcoming and have thus decided to continue trekking back to their villages all across the country. The humanitarian crisis that Prime Minister Modi has unnecessarily created could in hindsight be seen as the trigger for worsening the consequences of World War C in his country if the situation soon spirals out of control there.
All of this could have been avoided had the Indian government had the foresight to consider the implications that its three-week lockdown would have on its millions of internal economic migrants who incessantly struggle in abject poverty and are desperate to make it through the day without starving. It appears as though nobody in the government thought about the day laborers who literally built India into what it is today, possibly because a sizeable amount of them are either from lower castes or part of the Muslim minority, both categories of which are currently victimized by the Hindu extremist government of Prime Minister Modi as the author elaborated upon in his piece from February about how “India’s Waging A State-On-Citizen Hybrid War To Build Modi’s ‘Hindu Rashtra’“. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important for observers and the world at large to realize that this entire humanitarian crisis and its potentially forthcoming exacerbated consequences were entirely avoidable and are the direct result of the sudden decision taken by the leader of the self-proclaimed “world’s largest democracy”, who in the “best-case scenario” might have panicked after realizing how ill-equipped his country is to survive World War C and thus inadvertently made matters worse than ever.
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This article was originally published on OneWorld.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.