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Each Life Matters, Not Just For Votes!

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Democratically speaking and as per the Indian Constitution, each life is as important as the other. Each individual has right to equality and freedom to worship as much as the other but is not permitted to cause any harm or any injury to any group, person or property in the name of exercising his/her constitutional rights and duties. Ahead of 2014 parliamentary elections, it may be recalled, Prime Minister Narendra Modi donned the secular mask. His key motive was apparently to spread the message of his “secular credentials”. To return to power in 2019, he laid greater emphasis of development of “all”, to win trust and support of all (Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas and sab ka vishwas).

If perhaps the country was not affected by trauma caused by Covid-19, many questions would not have at present remained unanswered regarding electoral promises of leaders in power and their rhetoric about their accomplishments. The keynote harped upon repeatedly was that of the preceding government having achieved in a term what had not been achieved in 70 years. If this was really the case, the pathetic state of country’s health system would not have been exposed. Yes, the fact that India has the second largest population in the world cannot be denied. But this doesn’t imply that it is impossible for the respected leaders to pay attention to people’s basic needs.

Health, education, transport and employment figure among a few sectors which need appropriate attention to ensure development of the country as a whole. Yet, unfortunately, while the present power-holders have not refrained from assuring citizens during their respective campaigns progress of all, they have yet to work seriously towards this goal.

What is worse is that the present Covid-phase has been witness to minorities and several others being refused admission in several hospitals for treatment. Many have succumbed to the disease primarily because of their being forced to rush from hospital to hospital and not being admitted. Why has this happened? Of course, these cases have been taken note of by certain outlets of media but have not been paid substantial attention by power-holders. Why?

There have also instances of top political leaders suspecting Covid-symptoms and/or those having tested positive being admitted in hospitals. Well, compare their case with that of others who have been refused attention. This certainly does not spell equality of all. Nor does it seem suggestive of constructive steps having been taken to ensure development of all. Besides, to this day, attempts are being made by certain extremist elements to blame Muslims and also hold economically weaker sections as responsible for the spread of Covid-19 in the country. This seems suggestive of communal and social bias being exercised to divert people’s attention from adequate steps not being taken by most power-holders to check the spread of this vicious virus.

The chronological linkage between anti-Muslim biases being repeatedly attempted cannot be ignored. Before they were blamed for corona-spread, noise was being made about their nationality status. Communal jargon against protests at Shaheen Bagh, Jamia Millia Islamia being subject to violence followed by riots in parts of Delhi seem to be all inter-linked with one motive — blame and target the Muslims. When Covid-phase struck the country, Tablighi Jamaat members, and by extension Muslims, were blamed. The nature of news being spread was such that Muslim fruit-vendors and others were also targeted primarily on account of their religious identity.

What is worth noting is that spread of Covid-phase has not let the anti-Muslim communal jargon remain aggressive and dominant for too long. Statistics have defeated it. The same can be said about bias entertained against economically underprivileged being held as carriers of this virus.

Covid-phase has exposed the bias still prevalent at various levels in Indian society. It has also exposed the limited capability of the present power-holders to tackle crises of this nature. The eye-opener to this tragic reality is the migrant labourers’ long walk back home. Though there have been instances of social activists reaching out to help them on their own with food, etc, the government stepped in much later. Varying decisions taken regarding people being quarantined only indicate confused minds of elected leaders, lacking absolute clarity. The same may be said about some inter-state borders being sealed and some being open. Can any virus be quarantined? Can it be limited to certain areas?

It is for individuals to exercise necessary precautions while stepping out. Besides, coronavirus or any other virus does not exercise any bias while afflicting persons. It so happens, that some have a stronger immunity against it than others. During this Covid-phase, it is all the more pertinent for power-holders to lay stress on each life being as important as the other. So far, substantial emphasis has not been paid to this point. Whether afflicted by Covid-19 or some other ailment, patients cannot be turned away from hospitals simply because of their religious identity and/or socio-economic status. Each life matters in India, not just for votes!