On the eve of India’s 70th Independence Day, the deaths of more than 63 children in a Gorakhpur Government hospital offer a grim diagnosis of the state of health of our democracy and polity. Those children did not die in a ‘tragedy’ – their lives were literally choked off by deliberate, cold-blooded negligence by Governments both at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh. Barely half a kilometer from the BRD Medical College where the children died starved of oxygen, Narendra Modi had declared at an election meeting that he had a 56-inch chest and that if he became Prime Minister, he would ensure an end to deaths of children from encephalitis. Three years later, that 56-inch chest appears devoid of any shame for his hollow promise. It is a comment on the political priorities of today’s rulers that they are least concerned to ensure that the children of the poor have access to oxygen in Government hospitals – their energies are instead engaged in forcing children in madarsas to chant Vande Mataram. Yogi has been MP from Gorakhpur for five terms – but he has been more concerned to unleash communal hatred and violence than worry about healthcare for the poor.
On the other hand, in the most dishonest and shameless manner Union Minister Nitin Gadkari is using the Gorakhpur deaths as fodder for the Government’s agenda of privatization of hospitals. He has said that Governments must of course provide land and infrastructure to the private players to run hospitals! Has he forgotten private hospitals which charge exorbitant fees kill poor patients too simply by creating a money barrier to healthcare – or they profit by bleeding the poor who are forced to expend their life savings in private hospitals? The budget to provide care for newborn babies and encephalitis patients in the BRD Hospital of Gorakhpur is a mere Rs 40 crore a year. Yet the Central Government failed to provide this fund.
During three fiscal years 2016, govt banks have written off loans of super rich corporates to the tune of Rs 1.54 lakh crore, and in fiscal year 2016-17, Govt-run banks write off record Rs 81,683-crore bad loans! The write-off amounts of Rs. 2.35 lakh crore is nothing short of a massive Bank-Loan Scam far exceeding UPA’s 2G scam of 1.76 lakh crore! How come the Modi Govt can ensure an uninterrupted supply of loans to Ambani and Adanis without demanding repayment – but refuses to ensure that a
Hospital catering to the poor in epidemic zone Gorakhpur can give uninterrupted supply of oxygen to prevent children being
choked to death?
Children are choked to death in hospitals; hundreds of Dalit sanitation workers are choked to death in sewers across the country. Swacch Bharat Mission feels no moral pressure to ensure that modern technology rather than human lives are used to clean sewers. On the other hand, policy disasters like demonetization and GST have chocked the common people of
country. Demonetization killed more than hundred and GST has resulted into vanishing jobs and rising prices. Meanwhile the epidemic of farmers’ suicides continues punctuated by the sound of bullets tearing through protesting farmers’ chests. Yes, the BJP Governments at the Centre and Madhya Pradesh waive lakhs of crores worth of corporate loans, but they shame and mock at farmers demanding loan waivers.
But the ruling forces of BJP and the Sangh Parivar have no concern for the blood of babies, of Dalit sanitation workers, of farmers, of minorities, of women stalked and hunted. They and their lapdog media – are busy declaring that the real issue is to incite hatred, lynch and kill people for eating beef or falling in love across community and caste boundaries, or to force people to sing the Vande Mataram or chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
The Sanghi forces also seek to choke institutes of academic excellence; they desperately want to choke rationality in these University spaces, they want to choke all employment opportunities for the student-youth of the country. Voices who resist are thrown out the campuses, charged with seditions or institutionally murdered like Rohith Vemula. Our campus, JNU, is also systematically chocked by the nexus of the VC-RSS-BJP-ABVP. Najeeb is still missing following the vicious assaults by ABVP lumpens. The VC has shamelessly done a massive 83% seat-cut in the M. Phil/ PhD admissions. Not just this, in actuality admissions have been offered in only 53% of the already reduced seats! For the first time in JNU’s history, admission merit list has not been put on public display, raising grave concerns about fulfillment of intake reservations and other serious anomalies. And to divert attention from these massive assaults on students rights and democratic institutions, the VC is raising the debate of installing war tank in the campus and ‘capturing’ JNU! BJP leader Monica Arora appeared as JNU’s lawyer in the court to impose a ban on protests in the ad block. The JNUSU President’s registration continues to be denied for the “crime” for fighting against policies of seat-cut and for Justice for Najeeb!
Friends, the freedom struggle was fought by those who had the courage of conscience not only to resist the colonial British Raj and be jailed and hanged for doing so – but also the courage to identify what was wrong with Indian society and to commit themselves to ensure a democratic transformation in Indian society! The RSS and Hindu Mahasabha pledged loyalty to the British colonial rule, remained aloof from or actively betrayed the freedom fighters, and instead tried in vain to define ‘Nationalism’ as ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and caste and gender hierarchy, subjugation of Dalits and women and minorities as ‘national culture’.
In contrast, Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar, Savitri Bai Phule were committed not only to freeing India from British rule but freeing Indians from inequality, bigotry, and hatred. Today, those who betrayed the freedom struggle are in power, and they’re at it again – surrendering the interests and rights of Indians to Indian and global corporations, surrendering India’s hard won
freedom to imperialist powers, and propagating social subjugation, bigotry, inequality, and communal lynching as ‘Indian culture’. The spirit of those who fought to free India from colonial shackles and Indians from the shackles of “oppression of humans by humans” must inspire every Indian today to resist the fascist politics of the Sangh Parivar and BJP and strive for a revolutionary transformation of Indian society!
Today, the silver lining to the dark cloud comes from the courage and determination of the Indian people to fight back and defend democracy. On the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence, let us intensify the resistance against the dictatorial regime of Modi Raj – on every campus and every streets of our country!