Delhi's flood of deaths that don't matter screamed the headline of the morning paper. The writing was on the wall: 10 homeless persons die every day in our soon to be state-of-the-art capital courtesy the Commonwealth Games! The article makes scary reading. A third and soon half of India's population will be living in cities unprepared or unwilling to build support systems. Solutions are "simple": Shelters, affordable housing and hundreds of community kitchens. "But we aren't making these happen," says Harsh Mander to which the Minister in charge quips back: Delhi didn't have the resources to build shelters.
Well said! We have zillions to build infrastructure for the upcoming games, to pave , unpave and repave perfectly good roads but cannot put up a shelter for those who have been rendered homeless to make way for these hubristic endeavours. But that is not all. The article also states that 93% of the deaths - 3381 souls - are due to starvation. That too in a city where every garbage can is replete with castaway food of the rich, where every wedding is a free for all in food waste, where milk is poured on stone deities and then runs free in the drains.
And it gets worse: men who die aka the homeless are not old and decrepit, but young working people.
A leading newspaper decide to track hunger. Do visit their home page. Browse the statistics of malnutrition of children in our country and if you have the guts browse the titles of their previous articles: mud for meals, 405 million poor by 2011, where tribals kill hunger with flowers, hot rod horror brands children in Jharkand and so on. I did and sat for a long time stunned and shocked. True I have seen more than many. But in spite of that the sheer magnitude of the issue is staggering. Where are we going? Where is compassion and care? Why have become inured to every aberration?
I know first hand how difficult it is to gouge a coin out of people to help others. I have been in the business for ten long years: the business of knocking at hearts and hoping they will open. But they rarely do, particularly in this city. Everyday more people become homeless. We have been silent and helpless witnesses to the destruction of slums, to people losing their homes and lives, to the silent human tragedy that no one sees. I have listened with seething anger to the reasons given for such acts and yes I know how illegal most of these homes are, but then why were they allowed to come up and not only that why where they tolerated for decades and why above all where people dwelling in them given voter's IDs and ration cards. For political reasons of course as they were large vote banks that could be easily manipulated. Then why do the said politicos disappear when the bulldozers come!
The city is clearing away the poor to make place for the rich: slums get raised to build malls, road side stalls that feed the needy are destroyed to make the city more appealing to look at and yet the so called poor and now homeless are the ones who are busy toiling in the heat and dust to make rich dreams a reality. Something is wrong and we cannot simply be silent and mute spectators. We need to act or at least open our eyes and start looking with our hearts.
Labels: commonwealth games