By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
The fire in a posh Mumbai restaurant that claimed 14 lives was another incident that exposed our seriousness in taking life or should I say human life seriously. It is our collective guilt that we elect people in our assembly, parliament and municipal corporations that choose petty cash under the table over safety.
It often surprises me how much money is enough or should I say how many lives are enough for a corrupt official, apparently not enough. It is common knowledge in our country that in order to get license for any kind of business such as shop, restaurant or pub you’d have to warm hands of the officials in public works, health, fire and n number of other departments that would give you a license or clearance to operate. Business owners often sacrifice lakhs of rupees in bribes and commission to middlemen and then recover these costs by finding a way around these stringent regulation and excessive charges.
Trust me, the apartment community I live in is merely five years old but I doubt if it’d be there after twenty years. Though this building is in a pretty well off neighborhood, looking at the falling cement from multiple places sometimes give me shudders if it’d withstand an earthquake or the test of time. I am just a tenant and will move out after a year or two but those who are living here on a permanent basis, I worry about them. In the same way when I or anyone else visits a restaurant, we never observe the exit signs or fire escape routes because we assume these things would have been taken care of.
But NO, now I and most of my countrymen knows, NO, in case of fire we’d be left on our fate, politics that is happening now will play out in the news for few days once everything subsides the foul play of corrupt official and crony businessmen nexus will continue to operate such dangerous facilities without any regard to human life.
And just in case if your loved ones happens to be among the deceased, some politicians will try to rub salt in your wounds by blaming the population for negligent fires. These very politicians are cold-hearted to the plight of others be it if the victims die in a fire or a child loose its life in an accident. The sad part is that we send such heartless people in office, we choose them to pass our laws, we choose them to oversee the safety measures and regulation, we misplace our trust in them.
It’s true that in our country unfortunately human life is so to say considered meaningless. If someone dies certain amount of money is given to the deceased’s family & that’s all. All matters are solved as if nothing had happened. The Editor has pointed this out very well. His being apprehensive about the sturdiness of the building he lives in is not surprising because of the fate of many such buildings in Mumbai. Hopefully proper action will be taken before anything so terrible happens again.
‘A very happy & a prosperous new year to everyone’