Worst than the Virus

By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

We are the only country in the world where our system’s inaptness and unpreparedness have killed more people than Coronavirus. The machoism that was there in the initial days of lockdown are now replaced by perplexed, askance looks of “What the Hell is going on?” Now it seems like there was never a plan to begin with and we were, and still are, simply copying the measures took by other countries and applying it without any thought process.

Let me start with Railways as in the current time of crisis, it is the most essential and appallingly ignorant and insensitive department in the current government. Indian Railways are running trains far below the actual needed capacity when it comes to transporting migrants back to their homes. Migrants are running from pillar to post, with families in tow, for getting registration done for tickets. In many places the registration is done in an open field under the scorching summer sun, where these unfortunate souls have to rub shoulder with thousands of others in hope of getting selected in this weired lottery to go back home. In many places such as Mumbai, the Railways canceled running the prescheduled trains forcing the migrants to stay with families on footpaths near railway stations. Can’t we divert few hundred crores from that 20 Lakh Crore relief package to the railways? Can’t we send these migrants home without any bureaucratic hassle?

Moreover, the cost of tickets of “Shramik (Migrant) Trains” is being charged from migrants, I think usury would be a lesser sin than this. One of my relatives who lives in Kanpur, UP, have a train track running near the area they live in. Whenever the train slows or stops near this area, migrants cry out for food, water and milk for their children from locals. It turns out that many of these migrant trains are ordered not to halt at stations midway, no wonder in desperation these migrants had to resort to looting food and water at railway stations. The passengers are shoved in trains like animals and food and water is provide, only once, for a one way journey which is often more than 24 hours long to destinations in UP and Bihar. Imagine having a bottle of water to share among a family of five and having no stoppage in the journey for a refill of water or food. Don’t you think it’s fair to ask government and Prime Minister Modi questions on such state of affairs?

It seems center and state governments are taking some sick pleasure in adding to misery of these people. The most surprising thing is that this wretchedness is present in plain sight; all they, the top echelon, have to do is to switch on the TV or open their WhatsApp messages. There are tons of images and videos out there capturing of the plight of these people on the move and yet we are behaving as if everything is normal. How can we become so oblivious to the pain and suffering of our own?

People, not weapons make a country a super-power, time we realize it and behave like one.

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