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Value of a life................

I felt bad when I heard that nearly 100 lives, according to initial reports, have been lost in the recent rains in Mumbai (Maharastra, India). Prior to this, there was an incident where the army shot down three innocent boys in Kashmir. Around 540 people die in the streets of Chennai every year because of road accidents of which 60% are cyclists and pedestrians. There are many. I was wondering how does the government or people in general value a life. There was so much hue and cry to recapitalise UTI and Indian Bank for about Rs 3000 crore each (I think its more than that). Or the huge subsidy given per LPG cylinders- which is most certainly not used by the poor.
If 540 people die in Chennai streets every years, it means that equal number of families have been affected permanently. Why is that we dont place a premium on a life, especially when steps can be taken to prevent or reduce these unneccessary deaths. I think it is partly because an overwhelming majority of people dying in these tragedies are poor and the most vocal of Indian populace, the middle class, is not affected that much. It is much safer to drive in a car in Chennai (I guess less than 3% or 5% die due to car accidents).
The probable response from administration would be resource constraint and resource allocation problems. But, I feel that if one value a life (treating it as priceless) and plan accordingly then things would be much clear. Then, spending Rs 300 crore for road improvements in Chennai or Rs 1000 crore to rehabilitate poor in Mumbai in safer places would be preferred than to recapitalise UTI or Indian Bank. Individuals also will behave valuing life. For example, they would drive carefully knowing their carelessness would affect someone's life permanently and would lend voices to care for the defenceless and poor.


Ramnath said…
"But, I feel that if one values life (treating it as priceless) and plans accordingly then things would be much clear."

I wonder, how much we value life - as individuals and as a society. I am sure no one - even those who live in affluent societies think of life - any life - as priceless.

You will see the point if you actually see how we behave, rather than what we say, or what we think we believe.

Take speedlimits for example. If you make it illegal to go beyond 20kms, there would be far fewer accidents on road. Right? But we dont because we make tradeoffs all the time.

When you, Johnny, insist on riding your bike without helmet, you are again making a tradeoff between comfort and life.

It's like that. Even as individuals - even when our own lives are concerned - we dont think of it as priceless.

I am not arguing against making roads safer. But I am just pointing out that it's too unrealistic to think we can frame policies assuming life is priceless.

And then, the conclusion - 'Its much safer to drive in car in Chennai' - cant be arrived at by this ratio - 'less than 3% or 5% die due to car accidents'. It might be true, it probably is true that cars are safer. (but its like saying - its safest to ride harley davidson on chennai roads because no one die due to harley davidson accidents)

But, of course, I really appreciate the underlying sentiment and agree with that. We have to do something about it.
Arun said…
Profound sentiments from John. subtle cynicism from Ramnath about the practicality of the sentiment. Here comes my say.

For me, No point in debating or passing opinions, if it doesnot bring about a single iota of change to the world we live in. There has to be a 'TO DO' in every sentiment, argument and opinion we pass. The easiest thing in world above giving advice to people is just pointing the finger to the other people and saying, 'You are responsible for this and that...'.

It is time, to change the world we live in. I know we have the potential not to change the whole world. Atleast to make a difference in the immediate circle of influnece,the people we live with in day to day life.

I find in the world today, no one cares for anyone else apart from themselves. The basic instinct in all humans has been survival instinct and to be the survival of the fittest.

I dont want show my prowess in language and debating skills as I know that I m not good enough for that. But I really want to share my feelings regarding your say.

I deeply sense an unheard cry from the downtrodden and those who die everyday to earn a meal a day. Those who are abused and extortioned beyond any comprehension, for the sake of their right to fill their stomach.

What did anyone do for stopping their cry?

There are millions who need. If each one start to make a difference in the smallest way possible in their immediate circle of influence. What a different world this will be?

The economic class struggle in India, middle class and the upper class concentrating in developing their selves, the lower class struggling to edge over the poverty line, these jigsaw pieces never make a picture.

We see a uneducated little boy wants to study make it big in life, a widow suffering day in and out to make a living, a family who has no one to feed, etc.., we should do the maximum we could do without ruling out our survival atleast.

Then, we wont be the easy going guys quick to throw opinions n judgements but guys who really did n caused the one degree change in the world towards its betterment.

I finish my say, by a quote from Mahatma Gandhi who said,

" You must be the change you wish to see in the world"

Lets change!

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