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Abandoned to the mercy of elements

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Desh Bir
Be it Corona or SARS or NIPAH or droughts or floods, the average Indian is at the mercy of the elements and not of fellow human beings, much less the supposed Patrons of society who are expected to stand by the less fortunate ones in moments of need.
Come Corona and the employers deserted the migrant workers when the latter felt most helpless. The landlords ousted them from their humble rented shelters. These men, women and children had to take to the road and face the vagaries of the scorching summer as they dreamt of wending homewards, many of them on foot.
Droughts in parts of Rajasthan take the inhabitants to distant states hoping to earn something to keep the body and soul together. Sometimes, there is no work and they have no option but to pray to people for food. It is not that the entire population in that area migrates.
There are people who have businesses or large tracts of land which provide them in ample measure. However, these affluent locals do not prove to be redeemers for these temporarily displaced people. They leave their homes for unknown destinations in the hope to be back home when nature decides to be less harsh to them.
Why can’t there be a long term planning to provide for these people on a sustainable basis. In a western country, we notice a helicopter being pressed into service to rescue a cow. Here, in my country, we simply wish people to wait for happy times to be dispensed by nature and not by humans.
Patna and Mumbai were deluged last year and were recently again in the throes of an inundation by floods. Where are the people who have to plan for these exigencies? Why are no remedies taken up while there is still time? There is always a solution, a way out of an ugly situation resulting from faulty planning in the past. Human mistakes can be rectified, even if the effort sometimes is costly. Yet the effort is not only worth making, but imperative because lives are at stake.
So large is the number of people in India who don’t have a roof over their head that nearly 10-20 % of them live in shanties , tents or leaking thatched sheds, huts or hovels. Seventy years is a long period, but we have not made it a national mission to ensure that each family should have a safe house for itself.
Policybazaar is all out to sell insurance. Indian pharma giants are hawking their Chavanprash as the sole immunity builder. One godman even launched a Covid cure in hot haste. Extracts offering tulsi, turmeric, ginger, cloves, black pepper as wonder boosters of immune system are earning huge profits for clever manufacturers of any description. In such a situation, Indian masses are at the mercy of the elements!
(The author is a retired Principal. He was last serving at Govt. College, Hoshiarpur, Punjab)


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