By Suyash Pandey:
I am just another guy from Mumbai and belong to a middle class family. I have been fortunate to secure education loans and managed to complete my bachelor’s degree from England. I have lived in England for four years and as anybody else would, I have gained another perspective. Well, this is a new perspective for me and often makes me wonder that ‘why is it that my country is not like the developed economies of the world?’ Not that I am not proud of being an Indian, but I would want to live in my country and have the same standards of living as those of the so called 1st world countries.
However, there must be certain incidents or opportunities for comparison, which I must have come across, which must have made me think, so here’s one.
Recently, after completing my final year at university, I came to Mumbai for a couple of months to spend time with my family and to recover before I go back. I am a fitness enthusiast. And my hobby is to hit the gym every morning and pump some iron. I am also a guilty smoker, so, on this particular morning when I left for the gym I thought I’d have a cigarette before I hit the gym. I was at quite a distance from my home (about 5 minutes away), and was enjoying my first relaxing fag of the day at a quiet spot. There were shops opening around me and cleaners were sweeping the floor. Eventually, I had to move from where I was standing to let the cleaners sweep. While doing so, my head hit something so hard that I felt all the stars and moons over my head. Well, “I am a strong guy”, I said to myself, I just looked back and said “damn, those air conditioning units”, and was rubbing my scalp with my palm.
Before I thought I was fine, the cleaner told me that there was blood on my forehead. I touched my scalp again and my fingers and palm got covered in blood. Next thing I realised was the tingling on my nose tip as the blood was dripping down. Having lived in England for four years, as a reflex, my hand went to my pocket to grab the phone, to call 999. But “hell no, this is Mumbai, though the financial capital of India, there is no such medical service which can be here immediately and save me from bleeding to death”. Although I was panicking, I kept myself calm and approached a nearby restaurant to ask for ice, hoping it would stop the bleeding. The guy at the counter must have seen my face covered in blood but simply refused. So I rushed to the paan-walla, hoping he might have some ice in his paan box, but he was too busy arguing over 2 rupees with a customer.
Now I am standing in the middle of the road and have no idea how to stop this bleeding. A couple of rickshaws went past me and I could hear some aunties screaming when they looked at me. Now, I knew this was pretty serious. I thought damn it all, the only option I have is to walk home. So I went all the way to my flat, fearing that I may die if I keep bleeding at this rate for a couple of more minutes. There were security guards, cleaners, residents, and other people who all just stared at me as I was rushing towards my building. But I guess they were all helpless too. Finally, I reached home where my parents took care of me and thankfully the bleeding stopped.
That day made me realise that it doesn’t matter how rich or smart you are, as a person living in India, God forbid if there is an emergency, you will be helpless. This thought scared me deeply. I kept thinking what I would do if something happens to my loved ones. And the more I thought about this, the more I realised that there’s not much that anybody can do in such a situation in India. Now my question is– WHY? Why is it that if something happens to someone in India and there are no medical services in place to save a life. We all pay taxes like people do in any other country. So why is it that in England I can get a fully equipped ambulance with skilled medical professionals in less than 7 minutes at any location to save my life, FOR FREE? But in my own country where I am a proud Indian and not a foreigner, I feel unsafe.
People say population is the biggest problem in India. I think, it may be a problem, but let’s look at the bright side. The more people we have, the more tax we pay and the government gets more money. So why is it that the money is not being spent on such basic necessities for which I have the right to, as a citizen of my country? I know it’s not that simple, I know it’s a lot more complicated. But why is it not changing? Well, in the last 10 years, we all witnessed the success of Bollywood, cricket, shopping malls, supermarkets and what not.
Millions are being made by actors, cricketers, business people and the list can go on, so it proves that things are changing, right? We can buy almost any brand in the shopping malls. But what about our basic rights? When we work, we pay taxes and I want my government (which exists because we elect them), to do what they have been asked to do. Why is it that schools, police, medical services and everything else, for which we pay taxes, are not changing at the same rate at which the businesses are booming? Several huge shopping malls and multiplexes have been built, but how many state-of-the-art public hospitals were built?
Don’t you feel cheated? Because I do!!! I feel cheated because we pay for certain services in the form of taxes, from our hard-earned money. And if I don’t get these services to the standards which make them worth, then I am being cheated. Why do we not have good roads and an efficient traffic systems? Why do we not have a free medical system which is as good as a private hospital? And why is it that people don’t fear the Law and Order, which results in corruption? I feel like my human rights are being violated. We all are in the generation of Blackberry and Facebook; if we consider ourself to be smart, then we should at least be smart enough to understand what is happening around us and most importantly, it’s all down to us. It’s us who can make a change. Are you ready to take that step? I am!