In India a child dies every 15 seconds due to neonatal diseases, and 2 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday, 20% of the world's child death occurs in India, one in three of all malnourished children live in India, over 46% of children under three are underweight in India... over 28% of child's deaths are linked just to poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water. These startling and shocking figures are from the recently released Save the Children "Every One" report.
I sat stunned as I read these figures. This was happening in a country where a 4 bedroom flat is rented at half a million rupees, a vintage bottle of wine sold at 50K ; where millions are spent on flowers for a wedding, where food is thrown in the garbage after nights of revelry, where gallons of milk are poured on deities. This was happening in a land where shopping malls are erected everyday, where shoes and bags can cost more ten times more than what 75% of India's population earns in a year.
Austerity is the flavour of the hour. Heated debates are held on whether those in power should fly in one class or another. Absurd reasons are given to justify each one's view and while all this is happening a child is dying every 15 second. Everyday new policies are announced amidst much fanfare. Every day new programmes are heralded to supposedly alleviate poverty. And yet children are dying simply because of unavailability of safe drinking water.
Missions are organised to conquer space, to reach the moon. Whoops of joy are heard because water has been found on the lunar surface but here children still die for the simple lack of it. Something is terribly wrong.
Every child, no matter where or to whom it is born has the right to live. And each and everyone of us have a moral responsibility to ensure that it happens. We must act and act now. We cannot turn our faces away or pretend that we cannot see or hear. The figures mentioned above were recently published in a national daily. How many of us read them and just moved on. I do not know. I can only say that they got seared in my soul and spirit. Things could never be the same again. Whatever one thought one had achieved suddenly seemed inconsequential. There was a sudden need to review, reassess, rethink everything and start all over again.
A child dies every 15 second in India and I hang my head in shame.