LOOMING DROUGHT: WHEN COURTS REMIND GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF THEIR DUTIES

When a country’s top courts remind its citizens of their duty, of their social obligations, it is a humiliating development for its politicians, for its bureaucracy, for its opinion leaders, and for its people.

Something that the Supreme Court of India and the Bombay High Court did today!

Something, that again tells us that how fundamentally flawed we are in working for the well-being of a democracy’s founding entity – every individual life – even if we form a functional democracy!

The courts reminded us of our obligations towards our brothers and sisters in yet another ‘looming-drought’ year – with thousands of farm suicides!

What the Supreme Court observed should set the state machinery in motion to tackle the drought problem without delay – only if it happens so! It said (as reported by media outlets), “We should realise that there is problem. Nine states and now Rajasthan have declared drought. It is difficult to believe that there is no drought in Bundelkhand and Marathwada”.

The Supreme Court took on the government for not releasing MNREGA funds that has shrunk the MNREGA workdays to 48 from 100. It gave the government some lessons on timing its priorities when it said, “Relief has to be given immediately and not after one year. Temperature is soaring at 45 degree Celsius, there is no drinking water, nothing is there. You have to do something and provide relief on time”.

The top court said, “If you are not releasing the funds, then no one will like to work. States will say they have no funds, so they can’t pay anyone for MGNREGA work. No state will make any commitment to the people”.

Yes, commitment to the people – the basic entity that drives our Constitution – and therefore should always be a priority for our political class!

The country is staring at a drought like situation with areas like Bundelkhand, Marathwada and Vidarbha and states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are already facing severe drought conditions, leading to farm suicides and internal migration.

As the SC says, there is this grave concern already in 10 states while the activists say more states are precarious and are going to fall.

While the top court reminded the polity and bureaucracy of its duty, another higher court, the Bombay Court, came down heavily on the so-called elite who act like parasites on multitudes of ‘have-nots’ in the country.

In a country, that is still majority quality illiterate, malnourished and poor, as per the universal norms, and is facing acute water shortage – that is causing thousands of farmers to commit suicide, especially in Maharashtra in the last one year – wasting water there, lakhs of liters, is a crime, an obscenity – that can never be forgiven.

We do small things – like we observe Earth Hours, ration our air-conditioner usage, shut down markets to deal with electricity crisis, we run no-honking campaigns or care-free days, or run innumerous advertisements on judicial use of ‘scarce’ resources. We do accommodate things like handling milk shortage in summers by bringing changes in our daily routines.

If these small things become so important for us as a society that we act like in unison, from the government machinery to the citizenry to the media outlets, then shouldn’t we be ashamed and feel outraged that India has failed miserably in handling farmers’ suicides in the country – continued unabated for decades.

Then why can’t we act sensitively! They why can’t we sensitize people?

Then why can’t we do away with the lure of organizing some cricket matches in Maharashtra that would waste some 60 lakh litres of water, as the court was informed today – when people don’t have water even for basic needs like sanitation and cleaning.

How can we sleep at the end of the day after watching an IPL match that has wasted some 60,000 litres of water when a family in Latur gets just 2 litres of drinking water supply a week?

How can we feel peaceful if people are forced to engage in rioting for their daily supply of water – a supply that doesn’t come ‘daily’?

The Bombay High Court so rightly reprimanded the BCCI, “How can you waste water like this? Are people more important or IPL? How can you be so careless? This is criminal wastage. You know the situation in Maharashtra. Only if water supply to BCCI is cut will you understand.”

Isn’t it time to do the imperative as the High Court observed, “Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other State where water is in abundance”.

Certainly, there is nothing like ‘Ek India Happy Wala’ – as the IPL promo says – if BCCI insists on holding the IPL matches in Maharashtra even after this hostile observation by the Bombay High Court.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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