DROUGHT – OF WATER – AND OF POLITICAL TRUST!

Acts of political apathy and their cruel symbolisms continue unabated – midst a deepening crisis that has forced thousands of farmers to commit suicide – in one of the worst drought seasons – displacing millions in India internally – in 10 Indian states in North and Central India including parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

And the problem is only exacerbating with the intensifying heat wave as mercury is soaring up. Heat wave has already claimed many lives in the affected regions.

A case study from Beed in Maharashtra came today where a Class 5th student died while fetching water from hand-pump. According to her family members, she was helping her family to get water and had repeated trips to the hand-pump where she collapsed. Beed in Maharashtra is one of the worst drought affected districts in Maharashtra (and India). In fact, we can say it is another Latur of Maharashtra.

Rather, we should say there are many Laturs in Maharashtra that need comprehensive government intervention to win over this tide of nature’s fury.

But how can we take the government seriously to the extent that all will be set right henceforth – because this nature’s fury is man-made as well?

And to add to the drought of political trust that we have towards our political fraternity, there are continued acts of insensitivity by some of our senior-most politicians – chief-ministers and ministers.

Now, it may be true that these ministers and chief ministers may not be aware that thousands of litres of water was wasted making helipads for them or in makings roads dust-free for them but when it comes to political branding based on symbolism, no one goes into the nitty-gritty of what lies beneath. It’s all about what looks on surface.

And on surface, the message that went was that the political class was not acting proactively to end people’s misery but was rather forced to act because of electoral compulsions – after Eknath Khadse (senior Maharashtra minister), Siddaramaiah (Karnataka chief minister), Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh chief minister) and Pankaja Munde (again a senior minister from Maharashtra) were seen wasting water or exploiting their visits to drought hit areas as ‘drought tourism’.

Much has been written about drought in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region with consecutive years of drought. The crisis is also deepening in Karnataka with drought now spread to as many as 19 districts of the state. The politicians should take a cue from Pankaja Munde selfie incident that was otherwise a perfectly normal human response but for a human crisis perpetrated by drought. Pankaja Munde would never have imagined the incident would be painted like this.

But here it is. And so are the helipad incidents related to Eknath Khadse and Akhilesh Yadav or a dust-free road for Siddaramaiah!

In the season of India’s worst drought, it may also lead to a drought of political trust among common men and it should be a clear and present danger for our political class – as every coming year this or that state assembly election or some bye-election or some local body election is due.

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

EKNATH KHADSE’S HELIPAD AND PRIYANKA GANDHI’S BUNGALOW: THIS IS OUR POLITICS, FOLKS! (II)

If Eknath Khadse is emblematic of how crassly insensitive our politicians can become, can be, the row over Priyanka Vadras’ (or Priyanka Gandhi’s) house rent is equally disturbing.

The only thing is, we have forgotten ‘getting disturbed’ over such ‘undemocratic developments’.

Not so long ago, a senior party leader of Congress, the party of Priyanka Gandhi’s mother Sonia Gandhi and her brother Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Kapil Sibal, had taken a house in the same tony location, Jor Bagh, though certainly not as posh and VVIP as Priyanka’s house is, and less than half in size, for a whopping monthly rent of Rs. 1600,000 or Rs. 1.92 crore a year.

Now, let’s jot down the obvious:

Priyanka Gandhi pays a ‘super’ subsidized rent of just Rs. 31,300 a month for her Type VI house in Lutyens’ Delhi.

The house measures 2765 sqm in size and reports say that no such big house with all its natural extensions like lawns and amenities is available for rent in the area Priyanka’s house is located.

If we go by the reports of sky-high rent being paid by Kapil Sibal, the minimum that Priyanka Gandhi needs to pay as rent around Rs. 35 lakh a month. And even then, the rent cannot match house’s expanse and location.

Priyanka Gandhi was given this house in 1997 at a monthly rent of around Rs. 53,000. Her request for subsidized rent was accepted in 2002 and her rent was fixed at 8,888 by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Now, the person who fixed it can only tell us about this interesting combination.

The revelation here is, the loss to the public exchequer since 1997 – because even a rent of Rs. 53,000 a month for a larger than life bungalow in India’s most VVIP zone in Delhi, a city where people are cursed to live in cramped houses and flats, was a jaw-opener for anyone – for its sheer meekness.

Let’s go by the simple logic – that we common folks have to shell out 10% more every year on our housing rent. That makes it roughly around Rs. 350,000 a month after these 20 years – for Priyanka’s Rs. 53,000 in 1997.

Her current house rent of Rs. 31,300 is more or less in line with this ‘annual 10% hike’ norm. So, it is a direct loss to the public exchequer – running in millions – when India’s successive governments have failed to define a proper poverty line in the country – a political class that still accepts the wisdom of expert panels that find a person above poverty line if he earns Rs. 40 a day or so (Rs. 32 rural and Rs. 47 urban) – even if Rs. 40 cannot earn a decent one time meal on the prevailing market prices.

Like the Bombay High Court said while hearing the petition on water wastage by BCCI on conducting IPL matches in Maharashtra – that it was criminal that BCCI was wasting hundreds of thousands of water in every IPL game when Maharashtra was facing the worst drought of 100 years, when people were not getting water to drink and bathe – this, too, is criminal when poverty, quality literacy, education and healthcare still need critical attention.

How can this paltry sum be justified by anyone, let alone by the party that has been in power for some 60 years of India’s 70 sovereign years?

How can Congress counter this when a simple two bedroom house less than 100 m in size in Delhi costs around Rs. 20,000 in monthly rentals and its goes up to around Rs. 50,000 or so in many upscale areas?

How can Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi justify that Priyanka Gandhi indeed needs a ‘super’ subsidy for her housing rent when Robert Vadra, her millionaire husband, claims that ‘he always had enough and he didn’t need Priyanka Gandhi to enhance his life’?

But nothing will move folks, except some hue and cry. It will die down soon. That is the state of affairs in Indian politics. That is the standard here.

Be it BJP for Eknath Khadse or Congress for Priyanka Gandhi – the colours fade into oneness, the lines blur when it comes to ‘certain’ political compulsions. It was a BJP government in 2002 that had ‘super’ subsidized Priyanka Gandhi’s housing rent. It was a BJP government that had retained Robert Vadra on ‘no frisking VVIP list’ at the country’s airports in 2014 in spite of strong reservations. It is a BJP government in Maharashtra whose minister has made mockery of farmers’ plight by wasting precious water even if his chief minister says in the Bombay High Court that the IPL matches could be taken out of the state to save water.

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

EKNATH KHADSE’S HELIPAD AND PRIYANKA GANDHI’S BUNGALOW: THIS IS OUR POLITICS, FOLKS! (I)

They are quite a lot, in our kaleidoscopic politics, be it any party, including its newest entrant, Aam Aadmi Party, though the malaise there has not reached chronic levels.

In fact, if any factor that has been a constant irony in an otherwise robustly functional Indian democracy, it is about our politics, that has dragged us back, that has let us down.

Yes, there have been and there are good politicians but they have always been a rare breed.

Most have been – like in the category of Eknath Khadse – being parasitic on us – even if we are being forced to die – because our politicians have not been able to take us away from the pangs of an agricultural economy dependent on rains – even if we have seen almost 70 Independence Days.

When Maharashtra and India are witnessing one of the worst drought years, such apathy, such callousness can only be expected from a politician. Mr. Khadse saw it unfit to take even 40 minutes of road, even if he was rushing to take credit over dead bodies. Yes, Marathwada and Vidarbha crisis is as much man-made and as it is nature inflicted.

IPL was a symbolism. Its court-forced shift from Maharashtra for wasting water in maintain pitches when the state is reeling under severe drought is a lesson for everyone to get back to the business of humanism, to get sensitive to the cries of people dying, to contribute as a social obligation for your place in society.

But who will tell this to our politicians, politicians with their fiefdoms who are as much a culprit as nature in forcing droughts in lives of the common men of this country. The biggest water guzzler in Maharashtra, the sugarcane industry, has names of some of the most prominent Maharashtra politicians as its barons.

Yes, they employ thousands in their factories, but are they beyond this basic tenet of social behaviour – that you have to care for the survival of your fellow human-beings. In fact, it becomes all the more imperative for them to come up with alternatives to compensate for the cruel exploitation of natural resources, in this case water, in a drought year, as they are from the bunch who is entrusted with writing policy guidelines in crisis hours – like the Maharashtra drought of the these days.

But our politicians have made it a habit to fail us, even if we try hard to repose our trust in them.

What Mr. Khadse did was akin to mapping another level of bad politics, something that politicians like Mr. Khadse feel adept at. Books and articles have been written on how a drought is eagerly awaited by bureaucracy and politicians in India – with free flow of resources and credit to exploit.

IPL’s forced shifting from Maharashtra is a defining moment for all of us and Mr. Eknath Khadse should have thought 100 times before going on his ‘helipad bravado’ that wasted some 10,000 litres of water, 10,000 litres that are lifelines for many families. He could have taken a road journey to receive the water train. Showing a bit of sensitivity would have only helped him in claiming his share of credit in this season of photo-ops, drought-politics (and water politics).

But only if they care! But only if our politicians care for what we think!

To continue..

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

PHAILIN VS STAMPEDE: NATURE’S FURY VS HUMAN GREED: WHAT SHOULD WE SAY ON THIS IRONY?

What should we say on this irony?

Nature’s Fury Vs Human Greed

Double whammy! Triple whammy! Or whammy of nth order!

Yes, there was reason to feel good when an alert Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and its scientific community played the pivotal role in assessing and warning about the Cyclone Phailin, a super-storm category cyclone, capable enough to bring catastrophe, and thus minimizing the loss of human lives. The state governments of Odisha, the most affected state, and Andhra Pradesh, the other state in the path of the cyclone, worked overtime to evacuate people.

The result was remarkable. Once equipped with required technological advancements, the Indian scientific community performed well Phailin told us. And thought the present and the past of Indian politics give us reasons to believe the promptness with which the political class acted was more due to the concerns of the upcoming parliamentary polls than being the call of the humanitarian conscience, still, it was a commendable (though rare) promptness.

But the same day, the irony struck.

Over 100 people lost their lives in a stampede during a religious event of a temple in Datia, Madhya Pradesh. The same Ratangarh Mata temple had seen stampede in 2006 killing many. A probe was ordered then. Its report is still not in public domain. A judicial inquiry has been announced in the latest mishap. What is the relevance of such probes?

Any probe report cannot do anything unless the human greed is checked.

Reports say the stampede took place due to the greed of the local police. The police was busy in collecting bribe money from vehicles to let them pass through the bridge that was the main passage to the temple. Some other reports say the stampede began after police lathicharged the devotees to control the crowd. Lathicharging a religious crowd of tens of thousands! Unbelievable!

Stampedes, sadly, have become a common occurrence during religious events in India and are result of the mismanagement owing to the human greed.

These man-made calamities tell us how irresponsible the governance in country has become.

Yes, we do come across ‘feel good’ examples like in case of Phailin but the share of good is simply outnumbered by the ‘feeling shocked’ examples of the man-made disasters.

While a small part of the governance acted in time and correctly to avoid what could have been a much bigger loss of life, its other, and majority counterpart, created a tragedy that killed 6-8 times the lives lost in the aftermath of Phailin.

Nature never kills us. It is us who come in its way.

So, the nature was gauged and its might was respectfully given passage so that we could have the safe passage for us.

But what about the human element!

It is the human element that creates disaster after disaster – the man-made disasters killing the man.

We see it every time whenever a disaster happens. The stampede deaths in Datia are example of it.

We saw it in Uttarakhand in June. Even if we agree to make the role of the scientific community (IMD and the likes) debatable (though it was not as clear warnings were issued at various levels), the scale of the Uttarakhand flash floods disaster, killing thousands, was certainly man-made.

Warning signals were ignored. The situation only got worsened with irresponsible infrastructure development in ecologically fragile areas. The human greed was complicit in the crime. Polity and bureaucracy, supposed to keep things in order, added to the chaos by nurturing their greed shielding behind the greed of the masses to survive a day peacefully somehow.

Equally pathetic has been the response to the rehabilitation process. Compensation cheques of even Rs. 100-200 are getting dishonoured. See it in context of the reports that say the Uttarakhand government has spent over Rs. 22 crores in advertisements in the last four months to drumbeat its (largely ineffective) rehabilitation efforts.

Man-made! Horrible! Detestable!

Add to it the polity of the day. Politicians have probably a unique gene that turns most of them into (a political gene, so the politics in play even here!) insensitive, shameless and selfish creatures.

Their brazenness inspires them to switch onto the warpath of the dirty politics to exploit the mileage as soon as a disaster starts its killing machine.

Bigger the output of this killing machine, bigger is the display of the dirty politics over dead bodies – and so bigger is the brazenness.

We saw it in Uttarakhand. We are witnessing it in Datia.

Horrible! Detestable!

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

SOME CANNOT AFFORD EVEN THE BASIC TREATMENTS WHILE BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS ENJOY THE LARGESSE

Today’s Indian Express had this news that should make us numb if we claim to be the civilized human beings.

In Assam’s Nalbari district, on Monday (September 23), a couple with their nine-month old daughter jumped into the Brahmaputra River as they could not afford the treatment cost of their daughter who had a hole in her heart. The body of woman has been recovered while father and daughter are yet to be traced. The wife was 28 and the husband 32.

It is futile to discuss and write on why the couple had to take this unthinkable decision. Ending life is no solution and such acts can never be endorsed by a sane mind. But it is equally true no one else can understand the excruciating pain the couple was going through.

How cruel circumstances can become? How ironical life can be?

Or we should say how ironical life has been made out to be – life of poverty stricken Indians and life of those who are supposed to reach-out, help-out and bring these poverty-stricken people out of their misery.

This irony reflects in a recent development.

Earlier this month, the government of India, the bunch of people elected by the ‘people’ including the millions of the poverty-stricken with an expected responsibility to bring the poverty-stricken people out of poverty, decided to divert a proportion of the scarce public funds to make overseas treatment costs free for the IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service) and the Indian Forest Service officers. Until now, only Members of Parliament and IFS (Indian Foreign Service) officers were extended this largesse. And there is no upper ceiling to this.

It sucks. Isn’t it parasitic?

Is this a democracy for?

Millions cannot afford even the treatment for the common fever and here, some are being treated so exclusively. When people have to travel for kilometers to reach a hospital (that is poorly equipped in most cases), why to send these fellows abroad on public money and that too, when almost every possible treatment is available in India? Why splurge, why waste, when the doctor-to-population ratio still remains critically low in India, a physician density of 6.5 per 10,000 of population against the global average of 14.2?

Why so?

Remember what the Preamble of the world’s most extensive Constitution says?

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a _1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the _2[unity and integrity of the Nation];

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

Yes, we, the citizens of India – but what this India is?

India of a few rich and the poor India of hundreds of millions?

Was it envisioned so 64 years ago?

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

THUS SPEAKS RAHUL AGAIN: ‘POVERTY IS A JUST STATE OF MIND’

Rahul Gandhi has spoken, once again – for us, for you, for me, for everyone concerned (and not ‘concerned’).

And, ‘we, the stupid Indians’, fail to understand him once again.

And, ‘we, the stupid Indians’, rush to criticise him once again.

And, ‘we, the stupid Indians’, miss the opportunity to get our lives levitated once again.

Silly, miserable, creatures we are!

We do not want to come out of the shackles of poverty and ignorance no matter how hard our dear politicians toil.

Here come some golden words, once again, showing the intent and the efforts, from one of our future prime-ministerial nominees – the scion of the ‘crowned first political family’ of India and the only hope (if at all) of the grand old party of India, Congress, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, who believes in speaking out selectively (obviously, to hit the target more precisely).

Let’s see what his selectivity has brought us this time. During an event in Allahabad, Rahul Gandhi reportedly said (as put in the words of the organizers of the event – as the media reports say):

“Poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty.”

So philosophical, so proverbial, so poetic, isn’t it?

And so metaphorical, the Rahul Gandhi way! O Beehive! O Beehive!

And bravo! If it is indeed true, if Rahul proposed so, it solves the problems of hundreds of millions of Indians struggling daily to make the ends meet (and could be effectively extended to the billions of the poor living in different pockets of the world).

So simply, so subtly, he is giving us the solution to one of the most pressing problems of Indians (not of India) – POVERTY!

Just follow Mr. Gandhi and start believing that you are not poor and see the miracle happening, like we have been believing in voting for this or that politician from the same set of political formation in India hoping (against the hope like running after a mirage) that the next fellow would work for why he was voted in the office.

No doubt then we have policymakers like Montek Singh Ahluwalia and a prime minister like Manmohan Singh in this government who ‘work’ to make us ‘confident’ when they proclaim the UPA government has reduced poverty by this or that many million headcounts by sighting Poverty Line figures hovering around Rs. 30 a day.

No doubt that driven by such a luminous thought process the Congress party spokespersons are already on the job, taking pain to reduce the pangs of poverty by making millions below the Poverty Line self-confident that they are not poor.

We rush to criticise a Rashid Masood or a Raj Babbar for saying that one can have a one-time meal in Rs. 5 or Rs. 12 but we fail to see the underlying philosophy and the wisdom behind such statements.

Poor us! They are taking so much of pain in making us self-aware and self-confident by telling us to change our mindset.

Mindset change, the toughest quest to have! And our dear politicians are putting their sincere efforts in this hard-work.

Hearing is Believing! Shouldn’t we follow that!

So enlightening has become the overall political atmosphere of the country that irrespective of party (ideology is long dead) affiliations, every politician looks to follow the similarly placed sentiments on solutions to the miseries of ‘we, the Indians’.

Yes, India, being a diverse country with many cultures, dialects and languages, the expressions may vary and may sound culturally rude for some, but we should understand such a ‘learned’ and ‘practical’ philosophy attached with the words of our dear politicians.

If there is problem, a pressing need, try and forget it and try to move on. If someone is hungry and has no means to buy a meal the person should believe he is not hungry and slowly his hunger will fade away.

Change mindset folks, mindset!

But pity us! We are, yet again, criticising Rahul Gandhi (and so, deterring our other caring politicians spread across the different political parties.)

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

ARE WE A FAILED DEMOCRACY? ARE WE A FALLING NATION?

Thousands die but their lives are counted for some bucks and the buck is passed to be forgotten conveniently totally ignoring the fact that who died were the fellow human beings!

What sort of idiots we are or what sort of idiots we are made to look like or what sort of idiots we have been made to be fooled around so easily.

And resultantly and not so reluctantly we are forced to think about the question and the prospect, time and again, with an increasing frequency – are we a failed democracy? Are we a falling nation?

It is because ‘they’ have reduced the ordinary Indian to a mere living creature whose life doesn’t matter; the living creature, ‘the ordinary Indian’ who doesn’t figure anywhere on any priority list.

Instead, ‘they’ comfortably prey upon the developments to further their selfish agenda.

And even if ‘they’ look to come into some action, it is because ‘they’ see some political points to score in a particular case.

And who is this ‘they’ who has reduced us, the ordinary Indians, to such a state of human ruin?

This ‘they’ is the ‘group’ that defines itself from among us but places its members in a separate, superior class, pushing us to the periphery.

It is a ‘they’ that claims to be our representative only in order to claim the territory that rightfully belongs to us, the Republic called India.

So, who is this ‘they’?

This ‘they’ is a macrocosm of almost of the politicians, most of the bureaucrats, many of the business elite working in collusion with the politicians, the goons and the goons-turned-politicians. Sadly, the umbrella to cover the realm of ‘they’ is rapidly getting wider.

It is a ‘they’ that was once dependent on us and is now fast becoming parasitic on us, working day and night to reduce us to a life of ‘secondary and unwanted citizens’.

‘Their’ brazenness is in full fervour; is on full display!

And we, the idiots, the common Indians, are acting and are still poised to act as the mute spectators, allowing them to further ‘their’ class of superiority at the cost of us.

And it shall again be the case, in the coming months, when some important assembly elections and the parliamentary elections are slated to be held.

We, the voters, who don’t find good choices!

Or,

We, the voters, who can’t judge between a good person and a bad fellow!

Or,

It is the political con of cartelization to devoid us of an open atmosphere with more (and some better) choices!

THE LATEST: THE ‘OCCASIONAL’ CRY WHEN SUCH ‘REGULAR’ CRIMES NEED SUSTAINED ATTENTION

Isn’t it a conspiracy that the kids who lost their lives after consuming the poisoned mid-day meal in a government school of Bihar become the subjects of the political blame game that soon crosses all the limits of sanity?

And what about this characterized uproar every time whenever many of us, sometimes in thousands, become victims of a man-made systemic political apathy?

Why is it that we look to care for what caused the disaster whenever a disaster takes place and then forget it conveniently until next one happens?

In the case of the Bihar mid-day meal deaths, it is not even a week and the war cry that was there has died down. The chief minister of Bihar has not yet spoken. His colleagues and the political opponents have traded charges. Some more cosmetic measures have been announced and by the precedent, we can safely say, such measures would open more avenues of corruption.

And meanwhile, no one is talking anymore about the families who lost their kids. It is foolhardy to expect that we would see a campaign launched or follow-up stories pursued to get these families (and million other families in similar other cases) justice.

This silence, or to say more aptly, this ignorance, is a criminal negligence on part of all of us who are capable enough to raise the voice.

It was not a long ago, in fact it was in last July only when the nation had seen huge outrage over ward boys and sweepers performing minor surgery, dressing and autopsy, potentially threatening lives of the patients in Bulandshahr, Meerut and Balia cities of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous but India’s most digressive state.

For media outfits, it was a potboiler generating uninterrupted coverage of many valuable TRP hours spread across several days. There were high-pitched debates and rhetorical campaigns to cleanse the society of this malaise. The insensitive and shameless politicians and higher level government employees, who were initially, as usual, in denial mode, were forced to come forward. Yes, they did come forward after their characteristic delay but they didn’t own the responsibility, something that always happens, something that we recently saw in the course of the aftermath of the massive Uttarakhand flash floods. They just passed the buck.

In fact, they always believe that ‘we, the creatures, the voters, the ordinary Indians’ should get such treatment as it would keep us dependent on them.

And so they create such situations that force us to be in miserable condition and characteristically, whenever these ‘miserable’ conditions become fatal or epidemic, they first try to play down the scale or shift the responsibility and if not successful, they put a shameless face of concern promising the matter is being looked into and appropriate action would be taken.

Appropriation action! An alternative political catchphrase for it is ‘the toughest possible action’!

Now, see the toughness! In the very same Uttar Pradesh, where a sweeper was performing autopsy last July, a rickshaw-puller is filmed on camera this July, in a government hospital, giving an injection to a kid that takes the kid’s life. And it happens in one of the cities, Balia, that was in the eye of the storm last July for a similar medical negligence case.

See! This is how politicians see us – valueless, soulless creatures who exist only to serve the political masters and their cohorts.

Also, where were the media carriers, the activists and the aligned advocates throughout this period where they could easily see (and they have been witnessing it) that the rot was so deep and was getting deeper owing to the political callousness. In fact, they too, act vague it can be said. Whatever be the reasons and the considerations but the fact remains.

Why does it take lives of over 20 children to make a war cry on such a poor status of mid-day meal scheme in India?

Why this flood of reports now only?

Why not a sustained socially responsible campaign to put effective check on the system?

The rotten meal! It is an open fact that most of us know very well. Just step in any government run primary or middle (class 6-8) school where the mid-day meal is served and the first reaction, if you are from those of the metro middle class families, would be that you cannot eat it. Search for reports and one will come across regular reports of mid-day meal poisoning even from the metro cities like Delhi or Mumbai. The condition is horrible in small town India and hinterlands and the Chhapra incident in Bihar where 23 students of a primary school lost their lives after eating the mid-day meal represents that horror.

And most of them (excluding the political opponents here-they are the natural party to this crime) who are crying foul are aware of this open fact. Why not then a sustained campaign to pressurize the political class to act responsibly?

Like the horror of the mid-day meal, the ground reality of the government-run hospitals and health-centers is also an open fact. Anyone who can afford private treatment would never go to a government-run health unit. Government doctors, busy in private practice, using ward boys or sweepers as their replacement, is a commonplace thing and all of us and the groups crying over the Balia hospital incident are well aware of it.

Why don’t the groups looking and acting concerned at the moment run a sustained campaign against the politicians and their administrative bedfellows to pressurize them to take responsibility?

Acting only in spurts when the problem has already become chronic – the attitude is worrying. It is senseless.

It sounds more of the elitist concern of acting as and when it suits the tastes and needs of those who can raise the voice and not based on the needs of those who have been reduced by the politicians and their various colleagues as the silent majority at the receiving end of their every deed and misdeed.

It sounds like a sham! This façade has to be removed.

Chronic problems like the systemic political apathy and the political corruption need sustained efforts.

‘They’ who see us as lowly creatures need to be shown the mirror to make them realize that ‘they’ are from among us only!

‘They’ must not be allowed to make India a failed democracy.

‘They’ must not be allowed to make India a falling nation.

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

Incorporating the write-ups:

‘THEY’ & ‘WHAT SORT OF IDIOTS, WE THE INDIANS, ARE’?

MID-DAY MEAL KILLS CHILDREN, RICKSHAW-PULLER KILLS PATIENT –WHY THIS ‘OCCASIONAL’ CRY WHEN SUCH ‘REGULAR’ CRIMES NEED SUSTAINED ATTENTION

MID-DAY MEAL KILLS CHILDREN, RICKSHAW-PULLER KILLS PATIENT –WHY THIS ‘OCCASIONAL’ CRY WHEN SUCH ‘REGULAR’ CRIMES NEED SUSTAINED ATTENTION

Isn’t it a conspiracy that the kids who lost their lives after consuming the poisoned mid-day meal in a government school of Bihar become the subjects of the political blame game that soon crosses all the limits of sanity?

And what about this characterized uproar every time whenever many of us, sometimes in thousands, become victims of a man-made systemic political apathy?

Why is it that we look to care for what caused the disaster whenever a disaster takes place and then forget it conveniently until next one happens?

This silence, or to say more aptly, this ignorance, is a criminal negligence on part of all of us who are capable enough to raise the voice.

It was not a long ago, in fact it was in last July only when the nation had seen huge outrage over ward boys and sweepers performing minor surgery, dressing and autopsy, potentially threatening lives of the patients in Bulandshahr, Meerut and Balia cities of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous but India’s most digressive state.

For media outfits, it was a potboiler generating uninterrupted coverage of many valuable TRP hours spread across several days. There were high-pitched debates and rhetorical campaigns to cleanse the society of this malaise. The insensitive and shameless politicians and higher level government employees, who were initially, as usual, in denial mode, were forced to come forward. Yes, they did come forward after their characteristic delay but they didn’t own the responsibility, something that always happens, something that we recently saw in the course of the aftermath of the massive Uttarakhand flash floods. They just passed the buck.

In fact, they always believe that ‘we, the creatures, the voters, the ordinary Indians’ should get such treatment as it would keep us dependent on them.

And so they create such situations that force us to be in miserable condition and characteristically, whenever these ‘miserable’ conditions become fatal or epidemic, they first try to play down the scale or shift the responsibility and if not successful, they put a shameless face of concern promising the matter is being looked into and appropriate action would be taken.

Appropriation action! An alternative political catchphrase for it is ‘the toughest possible action’!

Now, see the toughness! In the very same Uttar Pradesh, where a sweeper was performing autopsy last July, a rickshaw-puller is filmed on camera this July, in a government hospital, giving an injection to a kid that takes the kid’s life. And it happens in one of the cities, Balia, that was in the eye of the storm last July for a similar medical negligence case.

See! This is how politicians see us – valueless, soulless creatures who exist only to serve the political masters and their cohorts.

Also, where were the media carriers, the activists and the aligned advocates throughout this period where they could easily see (and they have been witnessing it) that the rot was so deep and was getting deeper owing to the political callousness. In fact, they too, act vague it can be said. Whatever be the reasons and the considerations but the fact remains.

Why does it take lives of over 20 children to make a war cry on such a poor status of mid-day meal scheme in India?

Why this flood of reports now only?

Why not a sustained socially responsible campaign to put effective check on the system?

The rotten meal! It is an open fact that most of us know very well. Just step in any government run primary or middle (class 6-8) school where the mid-day meal is served and the first reaction, if you are from those of the metro middle class families, would be that you cannot eat it. Search for reports and one will come across regular reports of mid-day meal poisoning even from the metro cities like Delhi or Mumbai. The condition is horrible in small town India and hinterlands and the Chhapra incident in Bihar where 23 students of a primary school lost their lives after eating the mid-day meal represents that horror.

And most of them (excluding the political opponents here-they are the natural party to this crime) who are crying foul are aware of this open fact. Why not then a sustained campaign to pressurize the political class to act responsibly?

Like the horror of the mid-day meal, the ground reality of the government-run hospitals and health-centers is also an open fact. Anyone who can afford private treatment would never go to a government-run health unit. Government doctors, busy in private practice, using ward boys or sweepers as their replacement, is a commonplace thing and all of us and the groups crying over the Balia hospital incident are well aware of it.

Why don’t the groups looking and acting concerned at the moment run a sustained campaign against the politicians and their administrative bedfellows to pressurize them to take responsibility?

Acting only in spurts when the problem has already become chronic – the attitude is worrying. It is senseless.

It sounds more of the elitist concern of acting as and when it suits the tastes and needs of those who can raise the voice and not based on the needs of those who have been reduced by the politicians and their various colleagues as the silent majority at the receiving end of their every deed and misdeed.

It sounds like a sham! This façade has to be removed.

Chronic problems like the systemic political apathy and the political corruption need sustained efforts.

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

‘THEY’ & ‘WHAT SORT OF IDIOTS, WE THE INDIANS, ARE’?

What sort of idiots we are or what sort of idiots we are made to look like or what sort of idiots we have been made to be fooled around so easily.

And resultantly and not so reluctantly we are forced to think about the question and the prospect, time and again, with an increasing frequency – are we a failed democracy? Are we a falling nation?

It is because ‘they’ have reduced the ordinary Indian to a mere living creature whose life doesn’t matter; the living creature, ‘the ordinary Indian’ who doesn’t figure anywhere on any priority list.

So, sometime, some of us are killed, sometimes, dozens of us are killed, sometimes, hundreds are us are killed, and sometimes, thousands of us are killed, but ‘they’ remain unaffected, shrugging off every big or small disaster as if it was just an incident in passing and was to be conveniently ignored.

Instead, ‘they’ comfortably prey upon the developments to further their selfish agenda.

And even if ‘they’ look to come into some action, it is because ‘they’ see some political points to score in a particular case.

And who is this ‘they’ who has reduced us, the ordinary Indians, to such a state of human ruin?

This ‘they’ is the ‘group’ that defines itself from among us but places its members in a separate, superior class, pushing us to the periphery.

It is a ‘they’ that claims to be our representative only in order to claim the territory that rightfully belongs to us, the Republic called India.

So, who is this ‘they’?

This ‘they’ is a macrocosm of almost of the politicians, most of the bureaucrats, many of the business elite working in collusion with the politicians, the goons and the goons-turned-politicians. Sadly, the umbrella to cover the realm of ‘they’ is rapidly getting wider.

It is a ‘they’ that was once dependent on us and is now fast becoming parasitic on us, working day and night to reduce us to a life of ‘secondary and unwanted citizens’.

‘Their’ brazenness is in full fervour; is on full display!

And we, the idiots, the common Indians, are acting and are still poised to act as the mute spectators, allowing them to further ‘their’ class of superiority at the cost of us.

The ‘enough is enough’ crossed its limit much ago but why are we acting in small pockets only, something that is nothing more than ‘not acting at all’ in a country of over a billion?

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

POLITICIANS LOVE A NATURAL CALAMITY: THE COLOSSAL UTTARAKHAND DISASTER AND EQUALLY COLOSSAL GREED OF POLITICAL CORRUPTION

Officially, the rescue operation of the stranded pilgrims and tourists in Uttarakhand is over. Government figures say over 1,00,000 have been evacuated. There is still no official clarity over the death toll. Initially, the government was capping the death toll at around 1000. Speaker of the Uttarakhand assembly said some 10,000 could be dead while the chief minister of the state said exact number of deaths would never be known. On July 3, the Uttarakhand chief secretary clarified that the ‘official death toll so far’ was 580. Mass cremation of bodies began more than a week ago but still, bodies can been seen all around in the affected areas. Also, digging out bodies from the mud sludge with boulders, almost three metres high, remains an uphill task.

And midst all this, the cry that was always there, desperately looking for a voice, is now finding its listeners, introducing us to yet another horror tale that we all knew, but wasn’t hearing about. Many cities of Uttarakhand stand devastated. With homes gone and connectivity snapped, most of the towns and villages in affected areas wear a deserted, ghost-town like look.

Now into the fourth week, the Uttarakhand disaster, like any other calamity of this scale, has given humanity a pain that will be felt forever.

But, at the same time, the developments in the aftermath of the man-made disaster have also reaffirmed the strengthening perception of the masses about the callousness of politicians and politicians-controlled bureaucratic apparatus in dealing with the concerns of the common men, the proclaimed basic entity of the masses in a democratic (read pseudo-democratic) set-up like India.

Three days before the disaster, to the ultimate devastation of June 16-17, to the aftermath of the cloudburst, glacier-melting and flash floods, and since then, every detail cries out loudly to implicate the political apathy and administrative delinquency.

As usual, in the aftermath of a man-made disaster, the blame game got uglier each passing day with more skeletons tumbling out. There are clear indications that the state government was alerted multiple times from June 14-16 of heavy to very heavy rainfall. The state Met department of Uttarakhand had even asked the state government to evacuate the pilgrims. In fact, a reporter told one of his relatives, who was in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand, was advised by a high-level bureaucrat of Uttarakhand to climb down two days before the catastrophe of June 16-17. Every finding into the ‘hows and whys’ of the disaster every passing day tells us the political administration did nothing but slept over the alerts.

Experts say Uttarakhand has witnessed a boom of unplanned development in recent years. Fragile ecology of the state has been manipulated beyond a point of reconciliation with the nature. Riverbeds and riverfronts are encroached heavily. Dozens of hydroelectric power projects (45 operational and over 100 under development) and hundreds of big and small dams crisscross the state. Environmentalists, activists and scientists have been regularly raising voices against sanctioning so many hydroelectric power projects and dams without the necessary scientific studies. But politicians always slept on the reports; always killed the warnings. In fact, they vehemently pleaded with the central government to denotify the preserved areas and not to notify more areas as sensitive ecological zones that prohibit any activity detrimental to the ecological balance.

In order to earn quick tourism money, the relatively inaccessible areas like Kedarnath, which are under snow for half of the year, were made accessible with poorly laid roads while the hills of Uttarakhand needed roads built with specialized technology. These bad roads aided to the calamity monumentally. A report by the Indian Institute of Technology (Roorkee) and the Bureau of the Bureau of Indian Standards blames bad roads in contributing significantly to the landslides.

These bad roads did increase the tourist influx. But, being one of the major infrastructural casualties in the aftermath of the disastrous floods, these very roads stranded thousands in various parts of the state. The resultant loss of connectivity further hampered the relief and rescue efforts.

Why didn’t the politicians and the politicians-controlled bureaucracy take into account the expert warnings and views before connecting the remote parts of the state with a fragile ecosystem of relatively younger and unstable Himalayan region?

Each of these factors is a direct outcome of the human greed of political corruption. Without politicians and the politicians-controlled bureaucracy, such unrestricted and obscene exploitation of nature damaging the ecological balance of the area wasn’t possible.

But it wasn’t enough. The obscene display of political corruption continued unabated even after it emerged how massive was the devastation in the Uttarakhand hills.

EVERY POLITICIAN LOVES A NATURAL CALAMITY

It is unfortunate and one feels sorry about it but it has been the truth and in fact we should say ‘it is the truth’ now after the sustained shameless bravado of Indian politicians that came to the surface once again, so soon after the blame-game over the Uttarakhand disaster that is still ongoing, with the ugly politics over the serial blasts in the Mahabodhi Temple of Bodh Gaya on July 7 morning.

The calamity in Uttarakhand became a sort of disaster-tourism opportunity and the devastated hill state became a tourism zone for the politicians. What else inference can be drawn after witnessing what all that happened. But whatever that happened also reaffirmed the fact strongly that politicians across the parties are similar under the skin – insensitive, inhuman and irresponsible. Who else can do politics over the dead and the dying?

Almost every party was busy taking credits and shifting blames while thousands had died, many were dying and thousands were imminent danger of losing lives.

Choppers were busy ferrying politicians while the people stranded were crying for help. Also, it remains a mystery that why very limited number of choppers were put in rescue efforts in the initial days by a country that claims to be one of the major powers in the globalized world.

After the unforgivable failure of ignoring the warnings before the disaster of June 16-17, more horror was unleashed by the politicians by denying the people precious hours of relief and rescue efforts.

Those responsible for ignoring warnings must be tried for culpable homicide, isn’t it? But that is not going to happen. And those responsible for denying the precious hours when many more lives could have been saved must be sacked from the public life by the public. Even this is not going to happen.

India and Indians need to treat the politicians this way. But when the day would come – the day that would herald the country in a direction to become a true democracy?

The Uttarakhand disaster was a calamity where the ordinary Indian became victim of the nature’s fury due to the human greed of political corruption when he faced simultaneous ferocious attacks from the parties, the nature and the politicians, at the same time.

Whatever be the inside story into the bad play by the weather, it was certainly worsened by the administrative apathy that ignored the pre-disaster warnings and by the political debauchery that aggravated the post-disaster misery.

Politicians and administration controlled by them were first in denial mode about the scale of the disaster. Politicians then crossed all the limits of decency by putting an audacious front to deny that there were preceding warnings and finally did away with whatever little inhibition that they had to put their brazen shameless votebank maneuvering in full throttle.

So we heard headlines like:
– a minister of the state got the relief material unloaded and used the rescue chopper for his own ride;
– the son of a top politician of the state with political ambitions got a chopper diverted in his personal service to draw the political mileage;
– unhappy with Vijay Bahuguna’s efforts, other Congress CMs had to come into damage control mode to contain the political crisis by coming to the aid of the state;
– the disaster hit Uttarakhand refused aid from Gujarat as the government there was of the political opposition;
– the imposed code of conduct not allowing any further VVIP visits to the state to facilitate the relief and rescue efforts was subverted for a top politician of the ruling party that caused further delays;
– the reports of corruption in distribution of the relief material;
– the claims of the state government on the progress of the relief efforts that were found to be unsatisfactory

Sadly, the list is long and is growing longer.

It is now over three weeks of the disastrous flash floods and the media cry over the issue is losing steam. So the politicians that made the nature’s fury a man-made disaster will be relatively free to manipulate the huge funds that would go into the rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts. The aftermath, like in case of any other disaster, is going to be a free run for corruption.

P Sainath writes – ‘everybody loves a good drought’. It can rightly be rephrased as ‘every politician loves a natural calamity’.

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