Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bye, Bye, Year of Tragedies With Hope!

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”… Desmond Tutu.

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living”…  Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Once again two quotes by two great thinkers, Tutu as well Cicero for one topic to end the year; unfortunate that death can be only confronted with hope that’s why I used above quotes to describe the passing year! It was year of tragedies rather year of death, as not a single day I opened up news paper or turned on TV & I didn’t get to read or see about death! And death came very cheaply in our beloved country, especially in so called Smart Cities like Pune & Mumbai. Few decades back death was feared only in remote rural parts where people used to die because of epidemic or lack of any medical help to reach to them but today in 2017, nobody seems to be safe as people die here not just because of fire in some illegal factory but people die on roads in this city because of poor road conditions, people die on expressways due to vehicles entering in opposite lanes, people die sitting on steps of a shop due to over speeding trucks, people die in fire in posh restaurants while celebrating birthdays, people die walking on railway bridge in stampede generated out of sheer rumors, people die falling from buildings during work & people die even while sleeping in their bedrooms while the building in which the bedroom is situated, collapses! Never the life has felt such uncertain as you don’t know what way death will approaches you here & I think 2017 will be known for year of mishaps in the history of Pune & Mumbai!

What’s most frustrating is the attitude of the authorities (read govt) as why it’s required to loss of innocent people’s lives to take any action by which such mishap could have been avoided? Why the so called system keepers sleeping (read pretends to be sleeping) over every possible illegalities happening in most of the cases where innocent lives get lost? Read the news in last quarter of 2017 & reactions from the authorities over those incidences & then you will be ashamed of having such rulers though we ourselves are responsible to vote them & pay taxes for paying salaries of “sarkari babus” who are supposed to serve the law, is another bitter truth! It’s only after Elephisten Road railway bridge tragedy where some thirty odd people died, the railway dept directly called Military Engg for building one more pedestrians over bridge at war footing, demand of which has being made from years by the commuters. Had that demand been listened & acted upon & the new bridge has been build then these thirty lives could have been saved. Same way every time some vehicle over speeds, lost control & enters in opposite lane on expressway & commuters dies, the public work dept announces road safety audits, survey of such spots & for some patch of the express way barricades  of brufen ropes barricades are erected & again everything goes stand still till the next accident happens taking more lives! Then every time a building collapses or caught fire (mostly illegal), depending up on the numbers of causalities, announcements are made by the concerned minister or commissioner about taking strict actions on every illegal building as well forming of a special squad for demolishing illegal structures & then after few days you get to read on front page of most news papers that all the illegal buildings till 2015 have been legalized by the govt! On top of it, in such news there is never any mention about safety audit or any such things regarding the dark future which awaits for the residents of such illegal (sorry now legal) buildings neither any concrete action plan to stop generation of illegal buildings is there! Every time there is any accident due to vehicles entering in BRT”s (please don’t ask meaning of this) routes, the PMC officers assures they will ensure no vehicle will enter in BRT dedicated route as well police announces heavy fines or strict action against such vehicles yet next day when you travel along any BRT lane, stranded in traffic jams, you see hundreds of vehicles entering in BRT lanes without any action being taken on them!  I opened today’s news paper & wasn’t surprised to read BMC (for a change its Bombay Municipal Corporation & not our beloved PMC) in one single day has demolished nearly 400 plus illegal restaurants, roof top bars, hukka parlors & by coming week end the figure of such to be demolished joints will go over 1000 is said! All kudos to BMC as it took only 14 lives to make BMC staff understand there are so many illegal restaurants (read death traps) in Mumbai & its BMC’s duty only to demolish them! Worst part is most of the media is already busy in counting the loss in terms of money which these illegal hotel owners will be facing as their joints will be closed on 31st Dec night which is officially a “Wet Day” (just like we have a “Dry Day”) for this poor country which boasts itself as Land of Mahatma Gandhi! Then last week I read in news paper about an elderly couple which died as their two wheelers skidded from a road pot hole & they came under wheels of a truck passing by (dumper). They were going around to distribute their only daughter’s marriage invitation, imagine what a shock would have been come to that poor girl when she would have heard the news of her parents such tragic death! And the road minister announced every road in the State will be pot less by  15th Dec 2017 & declared a price for showing road pot hole after this day, well I am sure there are better & direct ways to make the State bankrupt than this! 

And lastly most shocking way of death happened on the eve before year end night, a young lady software engg (IT industry) got killed under the wheels of a speeding concrete mixer truck; no she wasn’t on road or riding any two wheeler or not even in BRT lane, she was sitting on steps of a shop like other thousand shops in the city & drinking sugar cane juice! The truck driver was speeding, lost control & drove straight in the shop along the road where this poor girl was waiting for her death & died, just like that! Now, tell me whose fault is it in all above cases, that the involved people has to leave this world while they must have been planning for New Year party just like you & me are planning right now. Like you & me, each of above mentioned incidence’s victim must have left his or her home that day or evening but they never imagined they won’t be returning back as they live in a careless , ruthless system named govt, which acts only to show it is acting that to after spending some lives! This is by me just the way in earlier times people used to kill a goat (bali dene) before starting any new work or structure so there should not be any stoppage in the said work, only difference is here scapegoats are living human beings who are tax payers of this city & their only fault is they happened to be at wrong place at wrong time!  How these heavy vehicles enters on internal roads of the city on which only lighter vehicles or two wheelers are supposed to ride, nobody asks or cares for such questions here, leave apart planning for such situation!  Years after years we make provisions in civic body’s budget for HCMTR type infra developments but we don’t build it is a reality neither we provide a safe public transport to the citizens. And it’s this lack of our planning or say will for the accident free planning which makes us number one city in country for road accident deaths! It seems govt may of any political party but it’s too busy in only one agenda & that is how to retain the power in next election & turns a blind eye towards its basic duty i.e. making life of the common man safe if not livable!

And then there is one more way death caught you here & that is financial death; here the victim may not die physically i.e. in normal sense but he or she gets stripped of all their life time savings, making them feel worse than death! I am speaking of thousands of financial scams/frauds where common man get robbed or cheated & govt then arrest few front runners & actual culprits (read criminals) roams freely, to search their new victims! Financial crimes are on rampant & here too govt just announces to make Cyber Crime Stations as well Economic Offense wing effective, where as the main thing i.e. entire financial budget of the family collapses due to cheating by the master minds behind such crimes, which in a way is death only as in today’s world if you don’t have enough money to survive then what’s use of such life? Every day you read about FD scheme frauds or some money double scam or bogus land scams & never the criminals’ gets punishment in time, leave apart recovery of the lost money. This has lead to make common man not to believe in the system named govt or police to such an extent that majority people avoid even to launch complaint of such cheating or theft! As they thinks police are in hand with the criminals & nothing will happen except their own harassment, though there are good cops & this stand isn’t right yet that’s what common man thinks is a fact!  

And yes when we speak about death & tragedy then there is other side of coin too, as it seems most of us just don’t care about the gift of life which we have got! Or else we wouldn’t have been required to be appealed by the govt to wear helmet while we drive two-wheelers! We drive in wrong lane caring a hoot about ours or others life; we take U turns on roads where it’s not allowed. All the time we talk or text on cell phone while we drive even on two wheelers also, risking ours as well others lives. Ask how many of us know how to operate a fire extinguisher cylinder, we go to restaurants or public places without even once caring for taking training regarding disaster management & in case of fire we never know where is emergency exit located while we celebrate at such places! We spend lacs of rupees for interiors of our apartment but when its monthly maintenance contract of society’s fire services or lift type machinery of the building then we choose the cheapest option if at all we choose! It’s us the common people only who forwards rumors of flood or any major road accident or collapse of some bridge ahead, on whats-app group without even confirming the same & helps or supports in spreading panic among the society!

As the Cicero said we our-self create ways to achieve our place in the memory of the living ones by caressing death. But then as Tutu said hope is the only way to beat the death or the grief it cause, so while we say adieu to 2017 which has taken along its death toll way high; let’s hope that we won’t allow hope itself to die in the new year, as what better resolution can there be than this for the New Year!  

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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