Noam Chomsky: India’s Lockdown Call Genocidal

The celebrated thinker opens up on what went wrong with India's controversial response to the coronavirus pandemic

20191113_234435 Ratna

June 3, 2020: Noam Chomsky, 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].

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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:

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‘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.’


‘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.

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‘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.’

Watch the full show.

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Chomsky’s exclusive interview on US-Iran standoff. Read Secret Notes From Iran – Diary of an Undercover Journalist

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Anand Desai
Anand Desai
2 years ago

While I do not doubt the intellectual brilliance Chomsky has displayed over the years, some of his judgement about India sitting on the other side of the globe are quite simplistic. I say this because he does not have the real grassroot understanding of the Indian society and the strength of its fundamental fabric. We, Indians, as a society, are used to dealing with extreme chaos and difficulties, hence some of things on this page such as *informal economy, people left to die on the roadside* (has a genocide happened?), *destroying secular democracy* (has there been any major atrocities on muslims?), rhetorical questions those are. So I would not take all of what he has to say ‘too seriously’. India has routed overly strong and authoritarian rulers in the past, so can it do in future.

Anindya Sen
Anindya Sen
4 years ago

Ignorance is bliss some people. But what you call those who have no inhibition in flaunting their ignorance?
Mr. Dinesh which state of the great country of India you hail from? Did you ever know Rabindranath’s state of origin? It’s Bengal and his family is Thakur poribar. Only the British rulers had the audacity to distort his surname because of their lingual tardiness! If you prefer to carry on with the colonial legacy, no issues. Many people do that in the name of science and development! But do it knowingly….

K T Dinesh
K T Dinesh
4 years ago

At least correctly name the Indian poet who won Nobel Prize for Literature. It is Rabindranath Tagore not Rabindranath Thakur!

Empire Diaries
Reply to  K T Dinesh
4 years ago

Thank you very much for your criticism! Now you please learn before making another attempt to rectify others! Thakur is Rabidranth’s original surname which was distorted by the British and turned into Tagore. Just like Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Trivandrum etc. are distorted names, thanks to the British. Just to mention, though not so important, the writer herself is from the land of Thakur. Thanks for visiting EmpireDiaries.

Niva deka
Niva deka
4 years ago

Very nice description 👍

Empire Diaries
Reply to  Niva deka
4 years ago

Thank you for reading and visiting Empire Diaries.

Niva deka
Niva deka
4 years ago


Varunan Muthu
4 years ago

Very well experienced and knowledgeable, wisest of the wise and renowned person spoke the truth of living people of Great Indian, more especially Her future lies ,in the world over global warming threatening to be very near to the destruction.

Empire Diaries
Reply to  Varunan Muthu
4 years ago

True, he’s the wisest of them all. Thanks for visiting Empire Diaries.

Syed Ahasan Siraj
Syed Ahasan Siraj
4 years ago

Wonderful description of the global conflicts between
Nature and man
Humans Vs humans
Religion vs religion
Science vs superstitious.
Painful continuous experience

Empire Diaries
Reply to  Syed Ahasan Siraj
4 years ago

Thanks for your observations. Do visit our website for more such stories.

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