Cacerolazo amidst Corona. Is Modi making a fool out of himself?

Saifudheen Kannanary

Within hours of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 8:00 PM speech on 19th March 2019, in which he has addressed the citizens of India to participate in the five-minute-plate-clanking event against the Coronavirus pandemic, the internet got flooded with memes, TikTok’s, and edited movie clips (featuring plates and other dishes, of course). Many of us are scrolling through our phones laughing at all of this— a hilarious break from the dreadful crisis.

But what exactly was Narendra Modi’s intention?

Brazil falls among one of the countries in which the entire population has home-quarantined themselves. Due to the carelessness of its government and its people, just as it is in India, Brazil has lost control over the pandemic and there has been a quick rise in the number of reported COVID-19 cases. The protests against Bolsonaro due to his incapability to control the virus has risen among the people of Brazil.

Despite the home-quarantine and safety measures, the people of Brazil have resorted to the clanking and banging their dishes, plates and other utensils with each other, along with the slogan “Bolsonaro Out”, from the balconies and porches of their houses.

Women bang pots at the window of their apartment in Rio de Janeiro as they protest against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, 19 March 2020
People in Brazil have expressed anger at President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic by banging pots and pans together on balconies. Photo: Reuters

It is only in India and other parts of Asia that this mode of resistance and protest remains a stranger. This mode of protest, known as “Cacerolazo” in Spanish, is the most common mode of protest in the whole of Europe, particularly in Spain, in which it is made possible for the people of an entire country to speak against its government without stepping out of their houses. Origins of Cacerolazo can be traced back to 1830 when the French protested against the rule of Louis the First. and repeated in places like Algeria, during its independence struggle, and now, in Spain, Italy, and Brazil, against their government’s incapability to contain and control the Coronavirus pandemic.

The condition of India’s public health will lose control over itself in the coming days and the government knows it. The government also knows that the way in which the Europeans are expressing disapproval against its government will inspire the Indian people soon enough. The impact that such a movement has made in the past, and can make in the present has made the Prime Minister undertake some clever precautions. To twist and bend a peoples’ mode of protest that was directed at him, into a pseudo-thanksgiving event for the committed doctors and nurses of the country is the product of a manipulative and cunning mind. The distortion of the ‘Bolsonaro Out’ movement into a ‘Modi Jai Ho’ movement is a victory at the hands of our Prime Minister. It is up to the Indian people to either let this happen or snatch back and retain the very essence of the Spanish Cacerolazo.

The above piece was originally penned in Malayalam by Saifudheen Kannanary and translated into English by Izza Maryam Ahsan

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