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Omicron v Xi Jinping - Millions shanghaied into 'boxes' to prove Ideological masculinity!

TIOL - COB( WEB) - 815
MAY 12, 2022

By Shailendra Kumar, Founder Editor

THE reigning pandemic continues to be a grim crapshoot for the world. Omicron is not the first, and certainly not the last variant! If one puts one's faith in the 'beaker' of science, a more devastating variant is either already lurking in some corner of the world or is about to raise its hydra-like head! Science, the ultimate arbiter of truth as put by Einstein, also tells us in advance that the new variant can be manifold-deadlier killer with unmatched immunity escape characteristics! The new variants cannot be ruled out or its possibilities being eliminated as the shadow of modern vaccines is yet to be lengthened to the point where the last infected person stands in the serpentine queue in a poor country! Yo-ho! The soaring vaccine inequity and the incapacitating helplessness of the WHO-led Gavi! Against such grim realities notwithstanding, viruses like all organisms, are also prisoners of life-cycles. They are intrinsically parasitic as they hijack cells of other creatures to make copies of themselves. However, a time comes in their life-cycles when they lose the oomph quotient and the biting sting and become endemic. A good example is the influenza virus which killed over 50 million people in 1920s and continues to visit humanity periodically, even today! And it does extract a skin-crawling price of over six lakh precious lives annually!

Let's now fly down to Beijing - the glamour of China has turned into a turf for deafening din of clamour! Beijingers chafed and millions of ordinary citizens in Shanghai are literally under house arrest thanks to ideology-tethered draconian 'Zero Covid' policy of Mr Xi Jinping! For the Chinese politburo leadership, it is a case of public health emergency vs political superiority of the authoritarian system which alone can ensure stability and prosperity! Sounds egregiously bizarre! A live example of 'organised anarchies' which tend to crimp outdoor space for troublesome 'critters'! The WHO last Tuesday commented that such a policy being followed by China is not sustainable if one goes by the scientific evidence but Mr Jinping's statecraft architects have pigeonholed it as an ideological fitness battle rather than a public health crisis! Holy Dragon! And it hopes to smother the virus fast! It is also true that Mr XI Jinping is well aware of the limited damage the Omicron variant spells out against the vaccinated and science, in clear terms, tells us that Omicron is not a corpse candle but delusions of political grandeur normally tend to shut all escape-windows! The Community Party's ideology has ended up weaponising the global health emergency! And the 'Zero- Covid' policy has turned into a quagmire situation! It is definitely a glue pot and the Chinese leadership is stuck into it! Mr Jinping has literally run out of road!

While chairing the Politburo Standing Committee last Thursday, Mr Jinping issued menacing warning if anyone dared to question the country's 'Dynamic Zero-Covid' Policy. This was apparently to neuter any evolution of an embryo of dissent! A case of an iron fist in a velvet glove! His throaty threat was perhaps in response to Shanghainese crying a river for help on social media and also spewed out fury and frustration over acute shortage of food and lack of access to medical care! Similar remonstration was heard as severe chokehold has been clamped on as many as 87 out of 100 big cities since March. A large slice of humanity has been locked under 'leaky roof' and their household pains continue to rain unaddressed! The common citizens fueling cacophony seem to have forgotten that even a cat is not allowed to look at the king! However, the growing incidents of residents squabbling with the local health officials seem to have been perceived in the power corridors as a case of pigeons setting themselves against the politburo 'Cat'! With the gaslighting and mountains of falsehoods not working this time unlike two years back in Wuhan, Mr Jinping was believed to be as mad as a box of frogs at the meeting! And he then felt compelled to go on his hind legs vowing to 'unswervingly adhere to Zero-Covid Policy'! Jingmo (silence) is what he demands from his citizens who if dare to dent his political philosophy behind the health policy, is guaranteed to be sepulchred in the dust of citizenship libraries! Quite sui generis form of political governance - no matter, how hoodooed it may be! Brow-furrowing stuff, indeed! Mr Jinping's sombre message to health officials is to swoop down on dissenting residents like a hawk on rodents! He is apparently not worried about his bum reputation in China! At any cost, he wants to prove to the world that his political system has an edge over democracy! Holy Bat!

With such bitter and menacing messages being radioed to the common Chinese and the local health officials walking with bullhorns and grappling with the cutting-edge-level challenge of herding 'cats', the spectacle in totality is that millions in Shanghai and Beijing have no choice but to put the official messages in their pipe and smoke the same laced with tangy taste and remain schtummed! The flavour of experience has been so acidic that some tech geeks are doing overtime to spawn Non-Fungible Tokens(NFTs) to store the moments on blockchain! But, the pertinent question is - Why is China so adamant about Zero-Covid policy - Certainly not a fail-proof strategy? When the Politburo biggies are aware that science has no long-term cure for the virus unless the virus itself decides to exit the sinking world of mankind, what fun is there for Mr Jinping in taming and cowing own cities? He knows that the Chinese economy is going to hell in a handcart because of onerous restrictions but his patriarchal attitude is in full strut!

He is also aware that all the countries like New Zealand, Australia and Singapore which had sardonically stuck to Zero-Covid policy, came to realise their follies to completely wall off the virus and quickly decided to live with it! But, China is different! It wants to stand out! And it does, but only as a sore thumb! Mr Jinping, known for his uppity, is predictably hell bent to shoehorn the political superiority of his system into the basket of other political luminosity! He has not yet realised that he has bitten more than he could perhaps chew! He has also turned oblivious of what Nayantara Sahgal once said - "Civilisation itself is housed in the human being"! So, if China is trying hard to construct its own civilization then it should avoid breathtaking assault on basic human rights and try hard not to add insult to grievous injuries of infected families! For the unfortunate souls infected by the virus and their neighbours, life turns into a bed of nails as soon as one tests positive! Not even bothering to give bald hint, all the family members and children are bused away to remote quarantine camps - quite unobvious to believe that such camps are well-equipped for month-long isolation! Any plea for home isolation is rudely and breezily dismissed!

It is indeed quite prophetic that despots are often so genetically designed that they are most hardened foes of themselves! A good example is what we see today in China's vicinity! Russia is crumbling after being isolated by the rest of the world! It may survive for a couple of more months but its decline is going to be precipitous! Its currency has been whacked! Its economy would be in tatters! The avoidable invasion of Ukraine has brought miseries for the entire world in terms of spine-chilling inflation, a tinge of stagflation in many corners and unaffordable energy prices! What adds to the bowl of woes in terms of fresh supply chain snags, partly fuelling the jumbo price rise, is Mr Jinping's decision to lock the 'factory' of China, Shanghai, even after registering dizzying drops in the daily caseload! It has come down from 25000 in mid-March to 3000 on May 10.

However, Mr Jinping, the man with steel in spine, seems to be mispricing the Covid-risk! As his health officials are busy fabricating mosaicked statistics and the People's Daily describing the lockdown as a temporary 'pause', Mr Jinping is disinclined to acknowledge high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, much harder to bottle up! It may stir a fresh bout of anger but idiosyncrasies of Mr Jinping also know no limit! And it may trigger a portentous turn for the global economy which is evidently caught in the crosshairs of voodoo political philosophy! The Chinese President may be dreaming about an early 'zero-target realisation' - Aha! Time to have margarita! but he has perhaps not heard of the famous Arabian piece of wisdom - Entering a hammam is not the same as leaving it! The Chinese economy which has already swerved into a slowdown orbit, may come out hugely Covid-scarred! The political brinkmanship sparking the willies across the world may produce a toxic spectacle for the entire world to see! Plus ça change!