By Sandeep Chatterjee
It is that time of the year when festivities usually took over India. However, 2020 will be a year remembered for all wrong reasons. Since its advent nothing has been in the right circles for the people who normally were seen busy shopping and hopping pandals during this time of the year. Firstly, it was the protests for Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that rocked the nation during the end part of 2019 which spilled over to the start of 2020. Students clashed with security forces and all activities came to a grinding halt when curfews became the new normal. The CAA issue hadn’t even subsided that the novel coronavirus hit the nation with sporadic curfews making way for nationwide lockdowns. Amid curfews and lockdowns, the nation’s GDP and economic growth was being hit hard. Lakhs of working-class people were displaced not only from their jobs but also struggled to find a way back to their home states. Many were seen choosing to walk the long National Highways in the hope of making it to their homes safe and sound. The pandemic brought out to light the sorry state of joblessness and the unpreparedness of authorities to deal with a national emergency like that of the global pandemic.
As the nation was limping back to the unlock phase, other incidents started rocking the minds of people. With actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide, another dark chapter of Bollywood-Narcotics tale reopened which left the nation aghast. As the Narcotics Control Bureau tightened its noose around some popular actors, the CBI and Mumbai Police were seen running circles to solve the mysterious death of Sushant. It was but for a brief moment that the nation was busy speculating about the death of a rising star when multiple horrific crimes were reported from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The incidents of alleged gang rapes and atrocities against the lower caste girls in UP brought back the horrors of the caste system in India. Not only this, the administrative botch-ups in order to hastily destroy evidence in the Hathras case, now drew the attention of the already caught up minds. Suddenly the entire attention and political leaders were seen thronging towards Hathras. As if this was not enough the Mumbai police made another major revelation of TRP fixing by the media. It was at this moment, people started realizing that all is not well in the nation. One may easily say that India is not in midst of a single pandemic but multiple plagues eating the country from within.
Meanwhile, the country’s economy continued to slide further down with unemployment becoming a far greater issue than ever. At a time when the government think tanks were busy planning for an exit strategy from corona and economic slump it was the neighbours who took advantage of India’s internal disorder. On one hand, long-time ally Nepal started questioning the border demarcations with India and on the other Chinese troops began showing its might up in the Ladakh region. India, however, took a bold stand and made it clear that it meant business which brought about the banning of many digital applications funded or owned by China – a strategy which still can be debated. However, all said and done India’s plan to robustly rebuild its economy is still not in sight with the Covid cases soaring higher than ever and many strategically positioned states nearing its elections.
Therefore, the Durga Puja and Navratri has not only gone cold in its fervour this year due to the pandemic but as pointed out, many factors collectively have left the people in not so much of a festive mood. Having said this, the people are also hoping and praying for better times in future this festive season. It seems that a lot is riding over Lord Ram and Goddess Durga as the majority are pinning hope on divinity to render things better in future or of what is left in 2020. Hands folded, eyes closed and minds aligned India prays for a divine intervention to be rescued from the slumps 2020 brought upon it.