The IIT incident: A result of persistent blind eyes

The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur which is a premier institute of India is again in news but for wrong reasons this time. The death of the institute’s third-year electrical engineering student, Rohit Kumar, last Sunday, has rattled the students of the institute. According to first-hand account of students, Rohit had been visiting the hospital since Friday, March 20, complaining of headaches. On Sunday, the headaches became increasingly painful and he was on his way back from the doctor when he fainted and fell from the rickshaw, resulting in major injuries.

Following this, he was taken to BC Roy Hospital by two students of Lala Lajpat Rai Hostel. The doctor on duty (who was present at the time when Rohit was taken to the hospital), Dr NK Som, recommended that he be taken to the Apollo Hospital, Kolkata and shown to a neuro-surgeon. He said that BC Roy Hospital did not have facilities to handle such cases and that it was best to take him to Kolkata as soon as possible. However, problems such as filling of petrol and the extensive paperwork involved in arranging an ambulance caused a delay of two hours during the course of which nothing much could be done. He was finally sent to Kolkata with two students for company and an untrained attendant. En route it was found that though the oxygen mask had been placed over his mouth, the tank had not been turned on. Soon after this, Rohit started coughing blood.

The students who accompanied him had the attendant call up Dr Som and the students followed his instructions; pumping out blood without any help from the attendant. At that time, it was decided to take Rohit to the Spandan Hospital in Midnapore since his condition was deteriorating rapidly. In spite of asking the BC Roy Hospital officials to inform Spandan authorities of the impending arrival, there was no one there to receive them. By the time a doctor was available, Rohit had passed away and the hospital declared him dead on arrival.
The above account is on the basis of the report filed in the online newspaper written by IITKGP students.(http://scholarsavenue.blogspot.com)

The news of Rohit’s death spread like wildfire and students gathered outside the director’s (Damodar Acharya’s) residence demanding some response from him. A callous answer of “looking into the matter” and his attitude made matters worse. As tempers ran high and numbers swelled, students resorted to destruction of property, in a bid to demonstrate their anger. They ransacked the director’s bungalow, smashing his car and forcing him to resign on Sunday.

In a democratic set up, one is free to protest. There have been numerous cases in the recent past where people have been forced to be violent and aggressive. It is very disheartening but true to a great extent that authorities just turn a blind eye to peaceful protests. Barring the stir by students against reservation in 2006, all the subsequent protests have been violent in nature. Be it Gujjar protest, Gorkhaland, Amarnath Yatra land row, Khairlanji incident, Nandigram etc. But only such protests were able to move the authorities.

In this case too, the students are justified in their protest. The reason being many such cases of medical negligence have been reported on the campus in the past few months. Given below are a few of them:


Gaurav Tomar, a fifth-year student was suffering from very high fever before Holi. He was admitted to the BC Roy Technology Hospital and treated for jaundice and typhoid. Later, in Delhi’s Apollo Hospital, Gaurav was diagnosed with malignant malaria, the actual reason behind high fever. The wrong treatment allegedly damaged his kidneys.

In December, a second-year student suffered cardiac arrest while attending an NSS camp outside the IIT campus.

He was rushed to the institute’s hospital, but doctors could not even administer oxygen, as there was reportedly no mask at hand. The student died shortly.

A few days ago, a fourth-year student had fractured his arms while playing football. It took five hours for the hospital to organise an ambulance to transport him to Kolkata.

Considering the series of the negligence cases and repeated requests from the students falling to deaf ears the students took such an action. If the authorities had taken the issue being raised seriously, a life could have been saved. Moreover, such violence would not have occurred in the campus of an IIT. But as Bhagat Singh said: “To make deaf hear, a blast is required.” Perhaps, this is the tragedy of this democratic nation. Bhagat Singh used these words for British Government which was neglecting the concerns of people. The concerns of people are still being neglected by our very own people. If the issues concerning people are not heard by the administration and government, then the meaning of democracy ceases to exist.

This incident was very visibly a result of the blinded deaf authorities. It had an implied reaction from the students in the form of very violent protests which led to self-resignations of the Director & the Dean. This and whatever post-incident action that is going to be delivered are very obvious reactive actions from the authorities, but a question that still finds an answer for itself is that when will the authorities of premier institutes and organisations take proactive measures towards the safety and well-being of their members?

Need to enhance medical competence to handle crisis

Ever since Mumbai was hit by terrorists on November 26 last year, there have been many steps taken to improve the security and to counter similar situation in the future in a better way. There has been no denying that there was security lapse due to which terrorists were able to create mayhem in the city. But, it is the time to introspect the weaknesses in our system and try to plug the same to avoid such occurrence again in any part of the country.

This post is basically to attract the attention of readers and administrators on the incapability of our medical staff during such hour of crisis. There is a report that 70 people died in the carnage at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Out of these 70 people, 30 who were hit on hands or legs lost their lives due to non-availability of treatment at the right time. So, we should learn some lessons and try to step up the emergency handling capability of the administration.

It is thus very essential that our administration tries to ponder on the following points which I and few of my doctor friends felt should be implemented:

  • We need to have concept of ‘triage’ in this country. This concept needs to start from the place of disaster itself. Triage is a process of prioritising patients based on the severity of their condition. This rations patient treatment efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately. The term comes from the French verb trier, meaning to separate, sort, sift or select.
  • Then we need to place ambulances at the strategic locations throughout the city. The staff with the ambulance should be well trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR is an emergency medical procedure for a victim of cardiac arrest or, in some circumstances, respiratory arrest. These are the two commonest complications which person injured in such strike undergoes. There should be training of civilians as well in CPR. The situation in our country is such that even medical professionals don’t have any experience in this. Right now, staff in ambulance is just not capable to do this simplest procedure which is taught in school in many of the Western countries.
  • The infrastructure in hospitals in current scenario is not up to the standards. There are very less number of beds in casualty and operation theatre. A hospital was just a few metres away from CST station and if it was better equipped, then few more lives probably could have been saved. Hence, it is very important to have separate wards/beds to handle any emergency situation.
  • The biggest problem then faced is shortage of blood. The blood bank and hospital coordination is also poor in our country. It takes much time for a relative of injured or a hospital staff to collect blood and then give it to the wounded. Therefore, it is essential that our blood-banks and hospitals work in tandem.
  • According to a few medical students, there should be especial training given to doctors as well. It is just because under normal circumstances, a doctor hardly treats the bullet injury.Few of them were of view that this training should be done by the army doctors, who are quite familiar with the treatment during bullet injury. There can also be the proposal of setting a separate unit of trained doctors like we have National Security Guard (NSG) or something. These doctors can be flown in the minimum time period to the place of casualty. They can work in aggregation with the regular staff of hospitals and also this can overcome the shortage of and burden on regular doctors. There is a fact that the doctors are overburdened in regular days and during emergency situation the condition gets even worse.
If there is proper team of trained medical and paramedical staff to handle any crisis then the number of deaths can be brought down. Whether the points mentioned above are feasible or not is to be decided by decision making bodies. But, I have felt that the current medical facilities are just not enough. It is thus of utmost importance that the administration thinks over this aspect as well.

Postpone IPL: Is it the only solution?

IPL or Elections

There is a national debate going on throughout the country, whether the Indian Premier League (IPL) Cricket tournament scheduled from 10th April 2009 should be postponed due to security concerns as the dates clash with 15th general elections  or to  go with both events simultaneously. Recently, our home minister voiced concern over terror threats on both of these events.

Earlier, it was believed that terrorists would never attack cricketers or cricket matches in the sub-continent as it will bother the sentiments of this cricket crazy part of the world. But, the Lahore terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team disproved this conventional notion. And looking at the impact of those attacks, any fool can predict that the next terror strike could be on the high profile cricket event IPL to be held next month in India. And it makes it even worse for security agencies that this event of tremendous public interest clashes with another major event with heavy public involvement – the general elections. For a huge democratic country like India general elections would be the event of utmost priority and no cricket tournament is bigger than elections. The constitutional requirement is that the general elections to the Indian Parliament were due before May 2009, which has to be fulfilled. So it is very much clear that elections are going to be held as per there schedules.

If we look at arranging both the events simultaneously then it will be a tough job for our security forces.  Making security arrangements for the elections in the rural and urban areas is always a very difficult task. And also, the level our political parties can go down to in the crucial election periods if there are lapses in the security arrangements is not a very big secret. And to conduct polls in such a huge region, we require our entire force. So it will be tough for our security agencies to protect IPL at the same time.

West Bengal and Punjab already said that go for IPL if you don’t want security for elections, Andhra and Delhi denied the security while Maharashtra and Rajasthan asked for central forces, which means they are not providing the state police forces for IPL. There could be another reason behind this stand taken by above states. Most of these states are Congress-led and it may be the anxiety of Congress not to step down before Sharad  Pawar, who’s the honcho of cricket in India along with a ministry in UPA cabinet  and can also be playing the major role in preventing the professional judgment in above matter. Also, the IPL chief Lalit Modi is close to Vasundhara  Raje (BJP). We have seen what happened to him in Rajasthan as soon as the government altered from BJP to Congress in Rajasthan. T he stand taken by these states might be just an extension of that. But, no matter what, the security of the life and property of common citizens along with the pride of the country, should not be put up on stake. If we do not postpone IPL and go on with these two major events simultaneously with some changes sought by IPL organizers and if there would be any attack on any event due to lack of security, then this will be a major setback for us. As we are hosting some major sporting international events in upcoming years, including the Commonwealth Games(one of the reasons of Delhi’s fast track development) and the Cricket World Cup 2011, our authorities should be much more careful and sensible in taking such decisions.

Taking a look at the other side of the coin, if we go on to postpone IPL, it will be a win for terror groups and looking at IPL’s prospect, a large commercial loss as they are just one month away from the tournament. It will be close to impossible for organizers to hold this event at some other time of the year, as ICC’s schedule for international teams would keep most players out of it and climates then would not favour the game. One more thing we should not forget that cricket and IPL earn some reputation for India, though they are not bigger than our democratic identity

What’s the bigger picture here? What’s the issue of concern here? Is this politics or is this security concern?

Whatever it is that is happening, what is more important here is a sensible decision that all the concerned authorities need to consider in benefit of all.

So, we have to find some alternatives to the concerned situation. We still have some amount of time and better cricketing infrastructure at our hand to manage the tournament. Ultimately, it is the home ministry who’s doing to decide the faith of IPL. The picture will be all clear in few weeks. But, I still feel that security should be given prime concern and elections are utmost important than any cricket tournament. We hope that our home ministry and IPL organizer come up with a more professional and practical solution.

What is your take on it?

Mumbai To Shanghai Via Baghdad

This is a fictional short story trying to portray the illusions created by our Political System.

This voyage of mine is 4 months old. I was working on a cargo ship named Mumbai at that time.It all started when my employers one day asked me whether I will like to join them in their Voyage on a Cruise called Shanghai. I was pleasantly surprised by their offer but at the same time I was very apprehensive while conversing with them in first few meetings. I don’t know how, but they came to know that I was still not very much convinced with their idea and had doubts in my mind regarding the Voyage which they were asking me to take.

By and by, they started to make me feel comfortable and tried their level best so that I join them. They were great charmers, every time they came for a meeting they brought snaps of Shanghai to allure me. Finally, I crossed the road which they wanted me to cross. I was convinced, I made a promise to my parents that on Shanghai I will work hard and earn enough to get them what ever they could wish for themselves for my employees had told to me that Shanghai was a wonderful cruise to work on and I can make everything from nothing out there. I bid good bye to my parents and reached the port on specified date and time. There I saw 20 youth with travelling  bags on their back.When I joined them,I came to know that they were also  asked to join this voyage.

The employers said that we will be traveling on Mumbai for first few days and then we will board the Shanghai some where in Mediterranean. But, the employers had different plans altogether, they wanted us to work for them on their oil vessel called Baghdad. But, since they were not able to find employees for this vessel, they deceived us. Actually, Baghdad was not in good shape and those who worked on it feared for their life as it could sink any time.The cunning employers said that we will have to board the Baghdad in Red Sea and we will have to work on it for 6 months and only then we can go on Shanghai. Left with no option in mid sea we all had to bow down before them.

Right now, we are working hard on Baghdad and our employers are exploiting us. The working conditions are tough out here and then there is a  fear that Baghdad may sink any time. I miss  Mumbai. Greed and illusion has made my life tough. But I am the one who is responsible for my present condition. Had I said a firm no to the illusion called Shanghai and loved my Mumbai I would have  never seen such a hard life. I am still on Baghdad and I am not sure whether my employees will keep their promise of sending me to work on Shanghai.

But one thing is for sure,next time I wont repeat the mistake. I will not fall prey to cunning people anymore. I will work on Mumbai and be loyal to it. I don’t want Shanghai. All I want is a peaceful life.

This short story is an effort by me to make the people of India aware of their voting rights and stop them from making the mistake they have been making for years. Please do vote this time and yes most importantly vote for the right person for the betterment of India. Leave your personal issues behind and think about the nation.

This short story is an effort by me to make the people of India aware of their voting rights and stop them from making the mistakes they have been making for years.

Employers are none other than those very politicians whom we have elected to take care of our nation. The 21 employees are us, i.e. the people of India.

These politicians have been promiseing to make Mumbai Shanghai some day but look at what they have made of it. A situation which is the same as in Baghdad – rather worse than it – is prevailing in Mumbai. Mumbai is now standing in the same league as of Kabul, Islamabad and Baghdad( with regards to the terror attacks). These blood-sucking Politicians suck our hard-earned money as tax to live a lavish life. Instead of getting more schools built, they get reservation quotas enforced. Instead of uniting India they divide us on regional & communal basis. Instead of controlling floods they have developed it as an industry. Instead of mourning the death of people killed in terror attacks, supporters of one leader celebrate the selection of his leader as the new chief minister of the state. The other candidate waiting for long to become CM gets upset with the high command and floats a new party of his own the very day. One of them barks like a dog and then the other talks about lipsticking and powder. The CM of the neighboring state comes for a visit to Taj for his vote bank politics at the time when NSG was fighting with terrorists while the then CM of the state goes on terror tourism with his son and a Bollywood director. The shameful acts of theirs have no parallels.

So my request to the people of India is: Step out of your home and please do vote this time. And yes, most importantly, vote for the right person for the betterment of our very own nation. If you don’t think we have the right person, read this. But, please don’t sit at home and crib. Get out of your walls and vote.

Jai Hind

This is how the other half lives

Female shop assistants first made their appearance in Kurumbur bazaar after STD booths [phone booths] opened in this tiny town.

Before their advent, one did not see girls behind shop counters here. After all, this was rural Tamil Nadu, where the only two places women worked were either in the fields or as domestic help.

Then things began to change. The utensil store hired a salesgirl, then the ice-cream shop and soon there was a fair sprinkling of girls in the town’s shops.

When Indian Oil Corporation opened a petrol pump here, it hired girls to dispense fuel to customers. They were paid as much as the boys, were given the day shift while boys worked the nights.

S Kuruppaya, who has been running the petrol pump for two years, says many girls have come and gone during this period.

M Devi is 22, has studied up to class IX and belongs to the village. After working at the STD booth for Rs 500 a month, she moved to the petrol pump. “Here, I get Rs 1,800 a month,” she says.

“Many girls from my street work in a textile showroom in Chennai. They live in a hostel there. My mother did not allow me to go there though I wanted to,” she continues, insisting that her photograph be taken in such a way that it didn’t show her face.

Since her elder brother moved out after marriage, she lives with her mother who works as a farm labourer earning Rs 40 a day.

“I like the work here. It is better than working in the paddy or banana fields where you have to work under the blazing sun and sometimes in pouring rain.”

She does a 10-hour shift, coming in at 8.30 am and leaving at 6.30 pm. Apart from her salary, she gets Rs 10 as expense money everyday. She also gets tea twice a day.

Her co-worker is L Stella, 43. After working at a printing press before, she had left the job to look after her home for a couple of years but a need for money forced her to take up the job at the petrol pump.

At the printing press, she earned Rs 1,500 a month, here she makes Rs 2,000.

Every morning she comes to work after sending her little son to school. In the evening, since he comes home before her, she rushes home at the end of her shift.

“I have never worked in the fields, I am happy this pump employs women. Normally in the village women are employed only in the agriculture sector, and I don’t know that work,” says Stella, whose husband is employed in the army and is usually away.

Working in a petrol pump is not easy. The women come across drivers who are rude, obnoxious, or in a mood to flirt. Often they have to put up with vulgar and sexist remarks. Moreover, the smell of petrol, diesel and oils is overpowering.

They have not heard about the NREGA, the government’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to provide employment for 100 days at Rs 80 daily in the rural sector. But even if that were to start here, they say they are not interested. “If we wanted to work in the sun, we would have gone to the fields. That is less hours of work for the same money.”

Field workers make Rs 40 for working from 9 am to 1 pm and Rs 20 for a two-hour shift in the evening. But they do not work everyday. Work is seasonal and irregular.

People earning five or six figure salaries, may find it strange reading about women who make Rs 60 a day. But this is how the other half lives, and we should not forget that.

 

Source: Rediff

Inflation: The Real Cause of Hunger

IN THE last decade or so India has made progress in tackling the hunger and malnutrition, but the latest global hunger index (GHI) report says that the situation is still very critical in the country. India ranks 66th on the 2008 GHI of 88 countries, a report released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said. India has secured 23.7 points in the index, which is down by 8.8 points from 1990. The index ranked countries on a 100-point scale, with zero being the best score having no hunger and 100 being the worst.

Food riots have broken out in many countries, as people struggle with the rising costs of basic food material. A silent tsunami, which knows no borders, is sweeping the world and India can face maximum trouble. Indian agriculture has been in crisis for many years and the country is now facing high inflation and rising food prices. Yet, our political leadership has not gone beyond pandering to political interests and has not done anything about reforming agriculture, increasing yields or improving storage facilities.

The nation has shown great economic progress, but GHI has asserted that India is lacking in fight against hunger. The index was based on three indicators namely, prevalence of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality and proportion of people, who are calorie deficient.

India has distinction of being home to largest number of hungry people. Not having enough to eat is a reality for half of India’s 1.1 billion people. The latest slump in the economy and ever rising prices of food items is leaving more and more people hungry. The large number of hungry people can be the hole in India’s growth story. The number of people living below poverty line decreased from 36 per cent to 27.5 per cent between 1993-2005, but then number can be deceptive. The people who crossed the BPL (below poverty line) are just above it and the inflation is hitting this chunk the most. This is similar to what World Bank said, “seven years worth of poverty alleviation,” could be reversed by rising prices.

The great development story of India could be reduced to zilch, if some immediate and visionary measures are not taken. India so far has failed to recognise the gravity of the problem and solutions for the same. While the broader economy has averaged close to nine per cent growth annually over the past four years, agriculture has been growing just over two per cent a year. Architect of the green revolution in India, MS Swaminathan has put the situation very clearly. He says, “We are paying the price for complacency and for not paying adequate attention to either technology or public policy.

Agriculture hasn’t received the investment it requires, considering nearly two-thirds of our population depends on crops, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro-processing for their livelihood. The recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers are crying for attention.”

It is this area that is a blind spot. Domestic policies of agriculture do not address the long-term problem of food security. The result of these policies has been that the country, which was self-sufficient in food, had to import nearly 7.5 million tones of wheat during 2006 and 2007.

The imports were made at substantially higher prices than paid to Indian farmers, giving rise to the criticism. Moreover, the high-price imported wheat also added to the subsidy bill. Paying higher prices for imports, even as domestic farmers are given a minimum price barely enough to recover costs, is certainly not justified. It is clear that the government has to focus on the supply side. For this, a great change in thinking is required. However, whether the current lot of politicians can do it is quite doubtful.

After Bihar, floods set to hit Orissa

A Flood warning and high alert has been sounded in several districts of Orissa, as severe floods are set to hit Orissa. With torrential rainfall in the catchment area of Mahanadi river and Hirakud dam crest gates open, the situation could get worse.
If the havoc created in Bihar by the Kosi river was not enough, certain districts of Orissa are set to face devastating floods in the days to come. The Bihar floods had seen more than thirty lakh people being affected, displaced or rendered homeless. More than a hundred people lost their lives, whereas hundreds are still reported missing. Just as the flood waters have receded, the threat of epidemics is still looming large.
The situation in Orissa is expected to be grim and reminiscent of the floods in the year 2001 which had affected more then fifty lakh people all across the state. The floods in 2001 were said to be the worst floods since independence to have hit the state of Orissa. Meanwhile evacuations have begun so that people in low lying areas can move to some place less dangerous. More than one lakh people have already been evacuated and move to safer grounds. After the devastation caused in the Bihar floods, the state government of Orissa does not want to take any chances.
A high alert has been sounded in four coastal district of Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Puri. The Hirakud dam built on the Mahanadi river has also been affected and due to the rising water levelsl, more than twenty gates of the dam have been opened to allow for the discharge of water. The capacity of the reservoir is 630 feet, and the level has been hovering near that mark and so the crest gates had to be opened.
The state of Orissa has not been averse to the destruction caused by the floods. In the year 2001 too a similar situation had been witnessed when the Mahanadi river overflowed and almost 15 lakh cusecs of water passed through the plains. The year 1982 had faced worse floods as almost 16 lakh cusecs of water had flooded the area.
The Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force has set about evacuation people from the danger prone zones. With the help of power boats, the district administrations have set about their task of rescuing people. An alert has been sounded and people have been advised to carry valuables and food supplies to last them for three days and move to places where they are being advised to.
The state government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety of the people of Orissa as the Special Relief Commissioner of Orissa N K Sunderray said that 14 lakh cusecs of water has crossed the Naraj bridge in cuttack, and it is a huge flood. More than ten districts of the state are going to be affected and already its reported that ten people have been killed in the torrential rainfalls that have hit the state of Orissa. The situation could get worse and like Bihar, the people could face the dangers of the lack of food, medical supplies and clean drinking water in the future. The state government is doing its best to evacuate people from the flood hit zones and hoping that the flood waters will recede in the next forty eight hours.

Race for survival begins in Flood hit Bihar

It is said that every major tragedy gets the best out of people and the worst. The statement couldn’t have bee more apt for the situation in Bihar where the scarcity of food has triggered an ugly race for survival as people went on to loot a relief camp in Madhepura.
In the worst tragedy to have hit the state of Bihar, the Kosi river floods have displaced more than 30 lakh people and destroyed close to 3 lakh houses. Since the kosi river went of course flooding the districts of Bihar, more than 50 people have been killed and several lakhs left injured and rendered homeless. The naval officers have been sent to Bihar to carry on relief operations in parts of the state which are flooded to more than five feet. In the district of Madhepura, more than hundred people looted the relief camp at a development office where the food packets were stored. The government of Bihar on the other hand has started the usual blame game. Laloo Prasad Yadav went on to say that the government of Bihar had clearly failed in all its endeavors to do anything for the flood stricken victims.
But as days pass, people of Bihar are getting more and more impatient. With relief and food supplies trailing in at a snails pace, One person was reportedly killed in Madhepura district when a scuffle broke out between people at an overcrowded relief camp over the shortage of food supplies and medicines. In places people ran for miles after helicopters which were dropping food packets and in an unfortunate incident in the district of Supaul, one boy was killed and several others were injured when food packets fell on them. Inmates of the jail in Supaul took advantage of the flood waters and the absence of security to break out. The availability of food has also become scarce in the entire state of Bihar and will continue to be so after almost 2 lakh hectares of crops and vegetables was destroyed by the floods. UNICEF has brought in people for providing relief matter to the people but the transport system in the state is so abysmal that they cannot reach the badly affected areas. People have been stuck on the ceilings of their houses for days or have been clinging to tree tops for survival but how long they can fight when they have no food to survive on.
The tragedy that struck the state of Bihar is so immense that the fortunate ones who survived the fury of the flood waters in the past few days are now fighting starvation. Apart from the scarcity of food there is now an impending danger of epidemics spreading through the flooding waters. There have already been cases of Diarrhea and other diseases as well being reported from several makeshift camps. The government on its part will have to act fast else the magnitudes of this natural disaster will only rise. Meanwhile the sorrow of Bihar, has done what it had to and has created a major catastrophe of unparalleled magnitude in Bihar. With the death toll increasing day by day, it is up to the rest of us to donate whatever we can so that the survivors of the flood do not at least lose out in the battle for food. They are counting on us as every minute without food shelter or medicines passes by.

Six year old’s family devastated in Ahmedabad Blasts

Every time there is a Blast, hundreds of innocents are left dead. Whenever there is an act of terror, it is the common man that faces the brunt. Here’s a story of a six year old in Ahmedabad whose family has been devastated in the blasts tragedy.
At the blast outside the Civil hospital in Ahmedabad, two brothers Yash and Rohan were gravely injured. Yash is a six year old who is too young to understand the terror that has hit his family. On Saturday evening, Yash’s father Dushyant Vyas had planned to teach him how to ride a bicycle. Yash had been bought a bicycle a day before by his father who was a X ray technician at the hospital. Yash now lies in the ward of the civil hospital having multiple injuries on his body. Next to his bed lies his elder brother Rohan who is in a much graver situation then him. Doctors presume that he might not see light at the end of his misery. Every now and then when Yash yelps in pain, the entire hospital wants to question as to what this young boy is doing there. He should have been riding the bicycle as was planned. But the terrorists had other plans. Dushyant vyas’ body has just been brought home from the mortuary. The news of his father’s death has not been told to Yash yet. His mother does not have the strength to convey this to him. Meanwhile in the hospital doctors and medical staff attend to this young boy who is in excruciating pain. Yash has lost his father and his brother is in critical situation. His is one of the several families that have been devastated in the serial blasts that rocked Ahmedabad city. It seems a terrorist group is behind this blast but surely no human can take this responsibility of brutally killing innocent people.
Every time there are blasts in India, it is covered by the major newspapers and media channels. After a few days the news dies away. India has been on the terrorist’s radar for a long time with serial bomb blasts having rocked all the major cities in India. After Iraq and perhaps Afganisthan, India is the most terror prone zone in the world. These blasts are nothing but a cowardly act of terror from a group of insane fundamentalists. The perpetrators of these blasts will have answers to give on judgment day.
To say that India is a soft target would not be over exaggerating. The Indian police have done nothing to catch the criminals who have hands in these blasts. Imagine if a terrorist attach would hit US, it would rather go on war with every nation that had terrorists in order to protect the security of its people. But in India blasts have become a common thing now and the intelligence authorities can do nothing about them.
We need to get over the tragedy that struck Bangalore and Ahmedabad. Try telling this to young Yash, who would not understand why he was on the receiving end of this dastardly act. His hopes of learning how to ride a bicycle were devastated and he cannot even mourn his fathers death for he is not aware of it. Every time there is a blast, we move on with our day to day lives after a few days keeping the horrifying sequence of events behind us. But the police and the intelligence authorities should not forget and forgive, catch the perpetrators and deal with them in the harshest manner possible.

India Starving on Mountain of Grains

The economists have predicted a growth rate of over nine per cent for India in the years to come. It is heartening to see that we are making progress. But one thing that I am unsure of is the implication of this growth rate.

Statistics and numbers are like mini skirts; they reveal a lot but conceal the significant bits. And the same is applicable to the growth rate story. There is no denying that in the last few years we have made substantial progress in many spheres, but the development has been concentrated in urban areas and the beneficiaries are those who belong to the elite group.

StarvationAgriculture, which supports more than 65 per cent of the population, is growing at the dismal rate of three per cent. India ranks 94th in the global hunger index according to a report released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). India’s score is 25.03, compared with 8.37 for China, which is 47th on the list. Libya tops the list with a score of 0.87. Between 1981 and 1992, India’s score fell from 41 to 32 and then to 25 by 1997. This means that India has stagnated and has failed in feeding its poor in the last decade or so.

India claims to be a food surplus nation, which is true. Yet we feature amongst the hungriest nations. The ‘credit’ for this paradox goes to the change in the food policy of India in the early 1990s. At that time, the government of India decided to increase the price (or decrease the ’subsidy’) of grains and commodities in the public distribution system (PDS – the ‘ration shops’). It had two consequences. One, it made food out of reach for the poor. Two, it made India a food surplus nation, since those, who require it badly can no longer afford it.

The government presents a beautiful picture of the country, that we are a developing economy which will overtake China in the next decade and become a superpower. No issues with that. But one should be true to one’s assessment.

With the inflation soaring at 11.5 per cent, the life of a poor man has become more miserable. The people in villages (barely few hundred kilometers from our financial capital) have not eaten vegetables for the last few months. The adults have literally given up eating at night. This is perhaps the story of every household, which depends on daily wages or meager monthly incomes.

India also has the distinction of being home to the largest number of malnourished children. Child malnutrition is a leading cause of child and adult mortality. It is estimated to play a role in about 50 percent of all child deaths, and more than half of the child deaths are caused by malaria (57 per cent), diarrhea (61 percent) and pneumonia (52 percent). So we are failing to feed our children as well. What exactly does this growth rate imply when considered in accordance to the fact that the majority of the population of our country is unable to secure their daily bread?

Recently, the reply to an RTI (Right to Information) appeal filed by Dev Ashish Bhattacharya said that over 10 lakh tonnes of food grains worth several hundred crores of rupees – which could have fed over one crore hungry people for a year, was damaged in the godowns of Food Corporation of India (FCI) during the last decade. The damages were suffered despite the FCI spending Rs 242 crore to prevent the loss of food grains during storage. Ironically, another Rs 2.59 crore was spent just to dispose off the rotten food grains. Isn’t this a ridiculous situation where you waste your food grains – which could have supplied food for millions and on the other hand you cite the shortage of food and raise the price of grains 2-3 times in a span of few months.

I sometimes wonder what these policy makers do when they have failed to control inflation, food management, hunger and malnutrition. Their policies have just made the life of the poor even more pathetic. Yet they claim that we are growing at the rate of nine per cent!

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