By Ratna @blowindwind
June 3, 2020, New Delhi: #NoamChomsky, sporting a long, white, flowing beard and slouching over a microphone in his study in Tucson, Arizona. Chomsky fans out there who haven’t seen their icon in recent times should surely have a look at his latest avatar. His current look, somewhat resembling the Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Thakur, is a stark contrast to his chiselled and hawk-eyed appearance from decades back.
A master orator on his heyday, his voice is now so weak and scratchy that one has to strain to follow what he’s saying. Yet, the ol’ man’s brain still runs like a well-oiled machine. His arguments still slice through ours like a knife on butter.
Noam Chomsky, arguably the most celebrated thinker, philosopher and political dissenter of our times, recently aired his candid opinion on the goings-on in India and various other simmering issues during an hour-long video conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Slamming the Indian administration for mishandling the coronavirus lockdown, he went as far as calling it “genocidal”. [Listen to the comment from 51min48sec onwards here].
On that revealing show, Goodman asked Chomsky about his thoughts on what is required in an international response to stop the rise of authoritarianism in response to the #COVID19 pandemic.
Chomsky replied, “The current #lockdown is almost… you can almost describe it as genocidal. (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi gave, I think, a four-hour warning before a total lockdown. That’s (affected) over a #billion people. Some of them have nowhere to go.”
Here are some excerpts from that programme in which Chomsky addresses issues in India:
‘DIE ON THE ROADSIDE’
‘People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside. This is a huge #catastrophe in the making, right on top of the strong efforts to impose the ultra-right #Hindutva doctrines that are at the core of Modi’s thinking and background.’
‘DESTROYING INDIA’S SECULAR DEMOCRACY’
‘Since you (Goodman) mentioned India, Modi, who is a Hindu nationalist extremist, is systematically moving to destroy Indian secular #democracy and to crush the Muslim population. What’s happening in #Kashmir is horrifying. It was bad enough before, now it’s getting much worse. Same with the Muslim population; a huge population in #India.
‘INDIA WILL SOON BECOME UNLIVABLE’
‘India and in fact South Asia generally, is going to become unlivable pretty soon, if current #climate policies persist. Last summer, the temperature in Rajasthan went up to 50 degrees Celsius. And it’s increasing. There are millions of people in India who don’t have access to water. It’s going to get much worse, which could lead to a nuclear war between the two powers that basically rely on the same water resources, which are declining under #globalwarming: Pakistan and India. I mean, the horror story that’s developing is, again, indescribable. You can’t find words for it. And some people are cheering about it, like (US President) Donald Trump and his friend (Brazil President) Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil… a couple of other sociopaths.’