I know it sounds weird and mortifying but seriously, how much do you think your life is worth? How much do you think your life costs?
Are you angry because I’m demeaning the sanctity of human life by putting a price tag on it?
Let me go a step further and ask you how much do you think your father’s or your mother’s life is worth? And if you are a parent, how much do you think your child’s life is worth?
In exchange for a lot of money, would you not lose sleep over letting the one you love die?
Are you furious?
I know what you are thinking – that your parents and your child’s lives are priceless and precious, and you would do anything – literally anything – to keep them alive, healthy and safe.
You would guard them with your life.
Keeping emotions aside, let’s crunch some numbers, shall we? India spends 1.2% of its GDP on healthcare as compared to 4% which is the global average (less than Nepal and Sri Lanka) which comes to around ₹47,353 crore (2017-2018 budget).
We have a population of around 1.3 billion. So, after doing some simple mathematics, we get the magic number of ₹3,642.54.
In case our ageing parents or young kids get sick or our spouse meets with an accident, technically the amount ‘sanctioned’ to be spent to ensure “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being” is ₹3,642.54.
Using the current price of petrol in the capital city (₹77.72), that amount would let you buy around 46 litres of fuel which is enough to refuel the tank of a Hyundai I10 almost 1.3 times! Or at the current price of mangoes, you could buy around 33 kgs of those!
Feel bad yet?
Wait, there is more!
Now, look at the woman who has been cleaning your room and washing your dirty utensils and clothes for years. Or the person who sweeps the streets or collects garbage from your house or drives the taxi that takes your children to school or the street vendor who comes to your doorstep every day; how much do you think their life costs?
Are their lives worthless?
Most of you are probably nodding no (at least I hope so!).
The other day, I was reading an article about feminism and women empowerment and how so many women these days are career women. It left me thinking. The first ‘career women’ I probably came in contact with as a child was my neighbour’s full-time domestic help or their ‘maid’.
She was living away from her home, worked hard, earned money and was supporting her family – a prototypical career woman. Yes, she didn’t have a fancy degree and didn’t wear formal clothes every day but is that what really makes you a career woman? Despite this, her ration card said BPL – do you know what that means?
It means that she was earning less than $1.90 a day or less than ₹3,819 a month. And out of that on an average, these people spend around 10-25% of their earnings on health-related expenditures, that is, around ₹382 to ₹955 (out of ₹3,819).
Every year, around 150 million people fall below the poverty line due to health spending and 63 million of those are in India!
Why am I blabbering about all this?
Because their life, like all of our lives, is priceless.
They are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children. Sometimes they are the sole source of income for an entire family.
They may be illiterate and ignorant about health issues and might not know their rights. Help them!
Help them get their Aadhar card in place or in opening a bank account. Educate them and guide them to claim every health insurance benefit that is available to them.
Guide them to the health facility if you notice that their health is failing. Don’t yell at them if they drop stuff – maybe they can’t see clearly. Help someone get what they deserve because every life is priceless.
Show them that they matter.