Saturday, June 19, 2010

The cost of an Indian life

Twenty-six years ago the people of Bhopal were exposed to a lethal gas in one of the world's worst industrial accident. But, was it an accident? The answer is contrary to popular perception a resounding "No". Because we as a nation have rulers who have devalued our lives to such an extent that we have not one but many Bhopals which have occurred in the past, which occur daily and will continue to do so in the future and we will not even notice or see and raise even a whimper of protest any of these events.

To just list a few examples I would like to mention more than a lakh suicides by farmers all over the country, sub-saharan levels of hunger poverty and destitution, high infant and maternal mortality due to lack of sanitation and clean drinking water and primary health care facilities, callous displacement of tribals and the poor in the name of large dams, factories, mines, SEZ's, factories, ports. I can go on and on. But is it only the Government who needs to be blamed? Are we all not guilty with our apathy and complicit acceptance of these policies of successive governments? Our obsession with GDP, sensex driven growth has led to wanton destruction of the environment and massive unrest among the poor and dispossessed masses of India. Besides the above issues, India loses so many human lives to natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, drought and such other phenomenon. All this was accepted as our karma when we were ruled by the Englishmen, but in 1947 our rulers gave us a constitution which pronounced that we became a sovereign socialistic secular republic where all citizens are equal before the law.

Our "chalta hain " attitude and disregard for rule of law and poor civic sense are responsible for state of our nation today. We need to turn the mirror to our own faces and correct ourselves. Our non-caring so long as the issue is not directly related to us is completely wrong as we must realize that in the welfare of all lies our own welfare. Discipline, civic sense, compassion for our poor unseen brethren, moderation in all aspects of life are the stepping stones to reversing the reasons for the Bhopals. We must put a value to the life of every Indian and not allow people to become mere statistics. Accountability, rule of law and equality before law must be the corner stones of the future path of our nation.

Bhopal is a mere symptom of a deep rooted disease which needs to be tackled by systemic change and course correction in favor of a sustainable economic growth pattern based on human happiness sound ecological principles. I do not see any attempt to do this in all the sound and fury of the outrage which the Bhopal verdict has elicited among the middle class.

Dr. Vispi Jokhi