As for the toymakers of Varanasi, they seem to acknowledge their advantage. Carving wonders out of wood, they continue the legacy of making their wooden toys in various colors and sizes; a metaphor, perhaps, for the varying levels of hopes that continue shaping the talented community.
Since the state of India has shirked its responsibilities toward managing our public health, ordinary people have been picking up the slack by doing voluntary relief work, acting as first responders, and searching for medical equipment to make up for shortages. Our volunteer efforts feel like the only way to ensure the survival of our communities.
The pandemic’s second wave in India was merciless. In the first week of May, 2.7 million people were infected and 26,000 died. India’s metropolises became open memorials of death and anguish, the suffering belying cracks in the invincible and messianic image of Modi, who became diminished in his darkest hour.
For the Mughal rulers, whose control covered much of the subcontinent, India could be imagined as something close to a unified state. However, for the millions of people beneath their rule, no sense of a “nation” or being part of “India” is evident.
In the three weeks of strict lockdown that ended up being extended to three months, millions of Mumbai residents watched the bare bones of the mega city being revealed.
Hindu extremists are spreading beliefs about a “love jihad” – an alleged plan in which hyper-masculine Muslim men seduce gullible Hindu women into converting to Islam. Indian politicians have vowed to fight the “menace”, despite the lack of evidence that the “love jihad” actually exists.
India's prime minister Modi once said he would bring development and unity to his country, eradicate poverty, and end corruption. But the issues he once campaigned on could lead to his own undoing.