Photo courtesy of Varnam

In our powerful yet fragile state, precarity defines our being.

Precarious safety of dissenters and human rights defenders

Precarious privacy invaded by drones

Precarious plight of frontline workers

Precarious lives of daily-wage earners with no livelihood

Precarious migrant workers stranded abroad

Precarious protection of our rights

Precarious accountability

Precarious social cohesion and harmony

Precarity is woven into our lives.


Fear is the constant companion of those living precarious lives.

Fear, not apparently of the virus,

But of how those with the virus will be treated.

Fear they will not be able to bury their dead

Fear they might get the virus and die in prison

Fear that they will not see their families for months

Fear of how to find the next meal

Fear that those who dissent will face reprisals

Fear that imprisonment awaits those that challenge the state

Fear that they have no redress or relief.


In our powerful yet fragile state,

Paying obeisance to the powerful is a virtue.

Patronage is venerated.

Following orders without questions is a virtue

Ignoring the law/ignorance of the law is a virtue

Being a subject rather than a citizen is a virtue.


Only the powerless will be disciplined.

Abuse of power is flaunted with pride

Proximity to power is considered an achievement

Nepotism is the ‘normal’ that never went away

Entitlement and privilege are celebrated

Racism and communalism are rewarded

Impunity reigns strong, protected by patronage.


The state creates fear through its actions and inaction

Then the state criminalizes and punishes people for being afraid

The state robs citizens of their dignity.

Frightened citizens emulate the state.

They venerate the powerful and abuse the powerless,

They use force and violence to deal with fear,

Frightened citizens turn on each other.


Empathy is dead.

The state thrives, while citizens struggle to survive.

Precarious democracy.

Precarious lives.