India gasps for oxygen. But how did we come here? What can we do next?
The country is in the grip of a terrible second wave of Covid. Hospitals are choc-a-bloc with patients and some of them are running with just hours of oxygen supply. Patients are dying due to a lack of oxygen, something that is considered a basic requirement for every hospital. Many await beds and simply lay down on the floor. This brings us face-to-face with the terrible reality of Indian politics.
For decades, political parties have come and gone with empty promises, while critical sectors of society such as healthcare received peanuts. Better healthcare is essential to the nation-building process, yet, we seem to be content with the status-quo.
The cost that our nation is paying due to the negligence of basic necessities is there for all of us to see. We have only focused on creating buildings, buying equipment and appointing staff, but we have not invested in inculcating the right values and concerns.
We still travel in dirty trains with cockroaches roaming around, our hospitals are overcrowded with multiple patients on rusty beds, our roads are cratered, bridges are crumbling, but India is shining on paper. While common man worries for life-sustenance, leaders are busy making a name for themselves.
Having said that, we cannot lay all the blame on our leaders. We the citizens, also have to take our share of the blame. We have for too long accepted corruption and exploitation as a way of life, we have turned a blind eye on too many occasions and now we see the results of our own corruption and hand in the decay of our great nation. We have allowed ourselves to be hijacked by the narratives preached to us by the left, right and centre.
We all are accustomed to corruption and, in one way or the other, we have experienced corruption or exploitation of some kind. Many of us may have been perpetrators as well. Thus, it’s not surprising to hear stories of hoarding of critical supplies in this hour of need. After all, we don’t trust our system, rather, we expect it to be corrupt. Mind you, this system includes you and me.
We have grown up hearing “white lies” and excuses at home. When we went to school, we saw that cheating earns us more marks, we saw cops taking bribes at traffic stops and politicians from corridors of power eat up taxpayers’ money in various scams. All this seems to have drilled in us the pervasive reality of corruption and we have accepted it as a trait. No more.
Too many lives are being lost everyday for us to just sit back. The apathy of the ‘powers that be’ is evident from our lack of preparation. I cannot believe that in today’s world of computerised-simulations, our government authorities didn’t know about the scale of preparation required. Lest, advisors themselves compromised by telling convenient lies. I do not have the facts but these are the questions we need to ask, and I’m sure the sick and suffering are already asking. Alas, we already know the answer: they don’t really care about us!
In one of the classic texts on nation building, we find Moses instructing the Israelites, who are about to enter the promised land after generations of slavery. We find the text in Deuteronomy 16:18-20, which says:
“Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
We can clearly see the emphasis on Justice and the connection of integrity of character to Justice. The text reminds people that corruption affects the wise and the innocent, and twists the truth into a set of self-serving narratives. Friends, if we want to see India as described in the Preamble, then we need to pursue Justice and weed out corruption, otherwise what we are seeing today will keep happening.
Therefore, my appeal to my fellow Indians is to learn from this experience and pledge ourselves into becoming a nation without exploitation and corruption. We cannot wait for politicians to start this, it has to start from us. Each of us has to have a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, exploitation and other evils that plague our country. We have to pursue justice with the same ferocity with which we expect it from others. Only then will we see a nation where every citizen’s head is held high.
Let’s not wait for another wave. Kudos to everyone who is going out of their way to make a difference. You provide hope to the hurting and belief that we shall overcome.