Swara Bhaskar on Bollywood Bole Toh: The grim truth about Gorakhpur tragedy

Aug 18, 2017, 08:10 IST | Swara Bhaskar

With this massacre of children, we have reached a point where we are resigning our very humanity
With this massacre of children, we have reached a point where we are resigning our very humanity

Reading the newspaper every morning serves as one's daily dose of depression. But, the past week, we hit a new collective low in public life with the death of over 30 infants in two days at a government hospital in Gorakhpur. If the deaths were not tragic enough, the cover-up comments by UP government, ministers and crony TV channels, and the blame game that followed took public discourse to a new low of shamelessness and lack of conscience.

With this massacre of innocent children in Gorakhpur, I think we have reached a point where we, as a society, are resigning our very humanity. This tragedy is shocking in the fact that it was entirely avoidable and the result of a sick callousness on the part of the government authorities that run the hospital and public health affairs in the city. Many years ago, Lal Bahadur Shastri had voluntarily resigned as the Railway Minister following a train accident. Shastri claimed moral responsibility for the tragedy, before anyone even asked him to. He was a politician from Uttar Pradesh. That is a legacy of public service in UP. And what a sad, sad route we have taken now where those in power lack the conscience to accept the gross inhumanity that took place in Gorakhpur, and instead are indulging in cringe worthy politics of blame.

We live at a time when we must wear our patriotism on our sleeve, so let me say on record that India is my country and my home, which I love and am deeply proud of. But on the occasion of our 71st Independence Day, let us ask what did we use our freedom towards? Freedom was a beginning — to build an India that was free of slavery, violence, prejudice, superstition, inequality and social ills. A land where all citizens could live in dignity and with security. Chanakya, the ancient Indian strategist, had said that a land must be judged by the security of its most vulnerable people. Mass deaths of children — be it in Africa, Syria or our very own country — are signs of failed states.

The leaders of our country stand on podiums at international summits, laying claim to India's role as a global player, giving wing to India's fantasy of being a world superpower. And yet 30 children — the future of our country — have died because officers and politicians of our democratically elected government could not find it within themselves to do the jobs they get monthly salaries for. Let that sink in!

The internet, ever the 'mirror, mirror on the wall', gives us a sad reflection of what we have become as a people — the fact that there are trolls who are willing to overlook the death of 30 innocent children, or simply lie about it in their blind hate or blind love for one or the other party. Innocent children of poor people have died unnecessary deaths, no amount of whitewashing can change that. And across political opinion, that is something that should make us hang our heads in shame and not bicker among ourselves. Those in power should put their heads down and take responsibility.

I am a citizen of this country, I pay taxes, vote and abide by the law. I love my country and I have the right to ask why if we can spend crores on Yoga Day celebrations, can we not pay R67 lakh for oxygen for a children's hospital?

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The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper

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