More than sixty children were suffocated to death in a matter of five days in Baba Raghavdas Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur due to the shortage of oxygen. Notwithstanding the efforts made by the power hungry BJP leaders to save their skins, the national conscience demands that the incident must be treated as a national calamity, and therefore heads must role, especially at the highest level. It is a well-known fact that government hospitals are frequented by only the poor people who can’t afford the expensive treatment in private hospitals. The manner in which the poor die in government hospitals makes it amply clear that their lives don’t matter much to the ruling class.
After the ghastly death of the children, the government of Uttar Pradesh, which is led by a Yogi-turned-Bhogi, is on a lying spree. He says the children did not die due to the shortage of oxygen. Then how did they die? It is apparent that the politicians, in their hurry to safeguard their positions of power and further their electoral prospects can stoop to any low. The ruling party politicians appear to have ganged up and scapegoated the principal of the medical college and suspended him. As per newspaper reports, the government failed to clear the accumulated dues to the oxygen supplier to the tune of 60 lakhs. The vendor, after sending numerous reminders and even a legal notice, finally stopped the supply. Now the ‘Bhogi’ wants a probe on the role of the oxygen supplier. Does he expect the supplier to supply oxygen free of cost to the hospital?
In the aftermath of the incident, Nobel laureate and child rights advocate, Kailash Satyarthi, took to twitter to express his anguish over the incident and aptly described it as a massacre of children.
Now the big question is who is responsible for this massacre, which is undoubtedly a heinous crime? It is obviously the politicians and bureaucrats who are responsible for the criminal negligence. Now the heads must roll. The Bhogi must step down from his post and go back to his ‘ashram’ to spend time in spiritual contemplation to purify himself and reclaim his ‘Yogi’ status. All the bureaucrats who are responsible for administering the hospital must be fired, not just suspended, from their positions and must be jailed for their criminal negligence. But unfortunately nothing of that sort will happen and the politicians have already succeeded in diverting the attention from the incident by announcing a farcical probe which will undoubtedly exonerate all the criminals, and therefore will not yield any result. A section of the sold out media appears to be reluctant to come down hard on the government and aiding it in obfuscating the situation.
After the incident has hit the headlines the prime minister’s office sent a tweet stating that the PM is ‘constantly monitoring’ the situation. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is known for his penchant for delivering rousing speeches, appears to be busy preparing for another rousing speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Though he came to power with a promise to improve the lives of the poor, nothing changed on the ground.
Notwithstanding the tragedy, some of the top BJP leaders rubbed salt into the wounds of the victims by making extremely insensitive statements. As per a news report published in The Hindu, Amit Shaw, who is considered to be the trusted lieutenant of Prime Minister Modi, stated that incidents similar to the one at a hospital in Gorakhpur of Uttar Pradesh have happened before. Even the Bhogi, who is at the helm of affairs, ordered the grand celebrations of Krishna Janmashtami days after the calamity. When the saffron clad so-called yogis occupy the seats of power this kind of things invariably happen. They put cows and Krishnastami first and the human lives last.
India is one of those countries where public health gets sparse attention. As per the reliable sources of information, India spends a little over one percent of its GDP on health against the world average of 5.99 per cent. Even that one percent funds don’t reach the needy and the government officials, in close connivance with politicians and other criminals, pilfer a large chunk of it even before it reaches the poor and the needy. Modi, instead of changing this sorry state, is paying attention to some cosmetic measures such as renaming the erstwhile Congress government’s schemes and giving them wide publicity with an eye on securing a second term.
In the words of the legendary Telugu poet, Gurajada Appa Rao, “Desamante Mattikaadoi Desamante Manushuloi”, meaning a nation is not a piece of real estate it is a society of people. Therefore, for any welfare government, taking care of its human capital, in other words, spending on health and education should be at the top of the agenda. The priorities of the Indian ruling class, however, appear different. Whether it is Manmohan or Modi, their priority is always pushing ahead with their neoliberal policies, serving their ultra-rich cronies and paving way for big businesses. Poor people and their children hardly find a place in their priority list.