By Prashant Kaushik:
A few things remind me that how cheap our lives have become. And that we have stopped worrying, at least politically, about the threats to our lives which keep stealing time from our lives, from days to years.
Every year, TB claims more than 1,00,000 lives in our country. Around 20-30 lakhs people suffer from this disease. The unfortunate thing is, that this happens in spite of an existing cure for this disease. We are just failing to prevent a huge number of deaths. Shockingly, It has been reported in Media, that the government may soon be running out of stock of the life saving medicine due to its half hearted efforts.
Similarly, road accidents consume more than 1,00,000 lives in this country. Still, our state RTO departments so carelessly keep distributing Driving License without taking any tests. The stress is more on arranging the address and ID proof documents than checking the ability of a driver to drive. Adding to this, our roads continue to be in a pathetic state. Missing footpaths, missing traffic signals, scarcity of traffic policemen and broken roads are all causes that, if taken care of, could have saved the lives of thousands of youth. It could be alleged that people die in road accidents due to their own mistakes, but it would simply be shrugging off responsibility on part of the government.
Maternal deaths: Around 56,000 women die because of it. In simple words, those mothers who die while or soon after giving birth to a child. Leading reports say that more 90% of them are avoidable. 80% of such deaths occur just because of excessive bleeding, which can be easily avoided if proper medical care is available. Such vast number of women don’t die a similar death in European countries is proof enough.
The story has no end. Floods, droughts, lack of health care , we are getting killed where we shouldn’t be.
On an average, each one of us live 20 years less than a similar human being in Japan does and around 15 years less than a normal European. Ironically, that happens even when our country is bestowed with such vast natural resources of fertile land and water, with such good climatic conditions.
For the sake of it, there are government schemes to tackle these issues. But they remain ineffective, badly implemented and only partially successful. The reasons being corruption and lack of diligent governance.
But not one popular mainstream leader seems worried about it. The upcoming Lok Sabha elections, which have so far been projected as Modi vs Congress, seem to hover around a single agenda of secularism. A number of leaders over whelmingly criticized Modi and ostracized him for being non secular. But among these debates of Secular vs Non-Secular, there seem to be no one even remotely concerned about those lakhs of deaths which could be prevented by simply providing fair governance.
Gujarat riots had taken a precious thousand lives and left a scar on national conscience. I don’t intend to under estimate the value of lives lost in Gujarat. Every life is precious, I repeat, every single life. But that happened once and 12 years ago. Our country is still bleeding from fresh wounds, deaths are spilling like blood from an open wound and instead of healing this wound at the earliest, everyone is busy in the debates over a miscarriage of past. What should have been a cause of remorse and penance has become a source to generate fear and create polarization and vote banks and reap votes to suit their selfish electoral interests.
The so called secularists seem to be losing a major base among the educated middle class because of their over emphasis on secularism. Let me be rude to say, in other words, as many as 20 times more than those of Gujarat 2002 mishap, will unfairly perish in the year 2013 , in 2014, in 2015 and so on.
Shouldn’t these untimely deaths be prevented ? It’s a tragedy, that since these lakhs of deaths are not directly encashable to votes as those thousands deaths of Godhara riots are, no one seems keen to stop them. So, politicians keep on playing with our emotions, year after year. The real sufferers are no one but Indians and they belong to all sections. These deaths, can and must be prevented. Remember, we can live 20 more years of our life. We can live un-robbed, un-raped, un-crushed in a land which as Tagore once rightly dreamed of – a land without fear.
But for that we will have to think, think beyond religion, beyond castes. Â A teenager who looses his life on a road, crushed under the brutal wheels of a truck, does it matter which caste he belonged to? If TB medicines are available, along with other vital drugs, would not they save life of people from all communities? A women should never die on way to her motherhood, no matter which religion she follows.
We are ignoring these deaths, which occur every day, every hour, every second, not really much far from our locations. Look around yourself. You will definitely find many victims of such pathetic public services. We have forgotten that we deserved a better treatment and a better governance. Because our minds are constantly fed with secular vs communal. We forget this because we are more concerned about symbolic gestures, about token words of secularism rather than any ground work which can actually make a positive difference to our lives.
Next time, when the nation stands on the polls, pledge to ask your leaders, if they will go beyond those empty promises of caste, creed and region. We don’t need any jingoism or rhetoric dialogues. We just need a safe, secure and healthy country to live in.