Wadhawan Family Getaway: How India’s Covid-19 Battle is Being Defeated by Upper-Class Privilege


Wadhawan Family Getaway: How India’s Covid-19 Battle is Being Defeated by Upper-Class Privilege

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Privileged people are airlifted from foreign countries in special flights, ordinary migrants have to walk 500 kilometers to get home. Middle-class folks who don’t disclose their travel history have cases slapped against them, lower-middle class ones will be beaten for buying essentials and groceries, while Kanika Kapoor can commit gross negligence and still get VIP treatment.

While the rest of us are engaged in a jhadu-pocha-bartan routine and are thrashed by cops if we leave the house during this lockdown, the Wadhawan family – which includes DHFL promoters Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan – obtained “special passes” to travel to their farmhouse in Mahabaleshwar.

Amitabh Gupta, principal secretary, home department of Maharashtra, issued special passes to Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan, who are accused in the Yes Bank case and are also being probed by the ED as part of a separate money laundering case. He referred to them as “family friends” and stated the trip from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar was for a “family emergency”.

While middle class emergencies include things like the sink overflowing or running out of milk, the Wadhawan family had to travel to their farmhouse on a popular hill station during a long weekend to sort out their “emergency”. I guess, #FirstWorldProblems.

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted that there will be an inquiry to find out how 23 members of the family travelled to Mahabaleshwar.

Gupta, who allegedly gave permission to the Wadhawans to travel from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar has been sent on compulsory leave with immediate effect, pending inquiry.

Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis questioned the move, asking whether lockdown didn’t exist for the mighty and rich, who could spend holidays with police permissions. He also hinted at the fact that IPS office was being made a scapegoat for the decision.

Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan have been detained in Mahabaleshwar in violation of Section 144. Police found 25 family members at their farm house including family members. CBI to take custody of Wadhawans and they are in touch with Satara Police.

While the poor have to face harsh consequences of flouting the lockdown, upper and middle-class entitlement is weakening India’s battle against COVID-19. Even in these existential times, where negligence is the difference between life and death, the middle class can’t do without its maids, they cannot do with guards, they cannot stop ordering things they might not need, and they can’t stop from going on vacations!

The fight against COVID-19 in India is unique to some parts of the world, we are not only battling a virus but also a fake news pandemic – and upper class entitlement at the same time.