In the time you will take to read this blog, let us say one minute, four children will die across our country. Yes you got it right: 4 children die every minute in India. The killer: malnutrition! Of course you do not die of malnutrition. But a malnourished child's immunity is very low and s/he is more likely to fall prey to diseases like diarrhea and malaria which he s/he is unable to fight. So in fact four children die of preventable diseases every minute in India. Can you read this statement and simply move on. I cannot. The death of any child is something that is and should be unacceptable. It should make us look up and then hang our heads in shame.
Yesterday the lead item in news bulletins across the country was the death of 12 babies in a hospital in Calcutta due to negligence. The hops ital of course has been given a clean chit. One commentator expressed outrage not simply at the untimely death of these infants but also at the total lack of indignation be it from civil society or from the authorities.
These two stories have one point in common: they happened to children on the other side of the fence, those who bear the label: poor. Children who simply do not exist to those who have a voice and the ability to express their opinion. 4 children a minute due to malnutrition, 12 children in a hospital due to negligence, 500 children in a remote town due to encephalitis are not numbers sufficient to make us shed our cynicism and apathy. However when a child from the other side of the fence was kidnapped a few years back everyone stood up and screamed. The administration moved heaven and hell to find the child. So my question today is how many poor children must die before we stop pretending that we cannot see. Today rich India is busy preparing for its first formula 1 race. The roar of cars speeding is too loud for it to hear anything else, certainly not the tears of a mother who has lost her child.