Mask up, Shut up!

30 Nov,2021

 

 

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Ranjona BanerjiThe Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has not surprisingly shocked the world, which thought it had seen the back end of Covid-19.

 

And immediately, ably helped by the media and politicians, there is chaos. Travel bans, racism, borders closing and all the rest that goes with that.

 

What is not happening and what should: increased vaccination rates, masks, social distancing protocols.

 

You would think that after all we’ve gone through in 2020 and 2021, we’d have learnt something, but no. The media feels it is its bounden duty to create unsubstantiated panic. Politicians apparently believe that ill-informed kneejerk reactions are still the only recourse open to them.

 

If South Africa says the Omicron variant has shown mild symptoms, it is obviously lying and travel from most African countries must be banned although most cases are in Europe.

 

If the US has the highest number of cases despite high vaccination rates, let’s not mention except in small print that most of those who have been hospitalised for Covid-19 are the unvaccinated.

 

Scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, virologists, what do they know, eh?

 

You can see that after the drama about one billion vaccines and whatever other misguiding propaganda, India has more or less stopped talking about vaccination rates. Latest figures from Our World in Data show that we are at under 60 percent single vaccinated and about 30 percent double vaccinated. Long way to go.

 

If our friends in the media won’t tell us, then no one can help the people who are bombarded with lies and nonsense from their social media feeds.

 

**

 

Meanwhile, our democratic farce continues. Members of the press are not allowed into Parliament. For the fifth consecutive session. The ostensible reason is Covid-19 protocols. However, as the Press Club of India points out in its letter to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, malls, restaurants, cinema halls have all reopened. Indeed, Parliament itself has reopened.

 

This denial of press access to Parliament is not a lapse. This is deliberate.

 

It also tells the media what happens when it gives in to power instead of standing against it.

 

There has been a consistent destruction of media independence since 2014. Every journalist knows this and every pretend journalist has happily been coopted by the government and the BJP regime.

 

All the breathless coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “celebration” of “Constitution Day” by the media only demonstrates how low we have fallen. Imagine the stupidity of the media which falls for Modi’s so-called respect for the Constitution even though Modi has kept them out for the highest Constitutional institution of all – Parliament.

 

I hear you. It’s not stupidity. It’s evil acquiescence to fascism. It’s active promotion of the death of democracy by a supposed pillar.

 

If a few journalists and media houses are now partially awake it will still take a long time to undo the damage.

 

Incidentally, having kept the media out, the Modi government rammed through its farm laws repeal bill the way it rammed through the farm laws: without discussion.

 

Because it knows the media can be bought and sold like MLAs. Okay. Correct that, MLAs are much more expensive.

 

On that happy note, mask up.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal

 

 

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