Do we not value life in India?
Do we in India really have no value for life at all? Are we morally and economically bankrupt? People die on the road, in bomb blasts, in hospitals, of diseases, of hunger, in fires, in building collapses…and no one seems to care. The feeling is that we as a nation aren’t doing enough to stem this.
When rambodoc said something similar in response to my post on helping accident victims, he echoed the feelings of most of us Indians. Time to do some introspection I thought. But it was the blast at the Ajmer Dargah a few days ago and then another one in a Ludhiana movie hall a day later that triggered my thought process sufficiently enough to make me write this post. I had written about our government’s ineptitude in preventing terrorism, but I wanted to explore some other issues…the issue of the value of life.
As far as definitions go, the wiki says:
The value of life (or price of life) is an economic or moral value assigned to life in general, or to specific living organisms.
Well, definitions may talk about moral value but this only works at an individual level and is restricted to certain types of individuals. Where the state is concerned, it’s the economic value which counts. As the wiki goes on to say:
Discussions about the value of life would be more-or-less limited to university philosophy departments and religious groups if it were not for the fact that this value must be calculated in an exact quantitative way by practitioners in these disciplines…disciplines including economics, health care, political economy, insurance, worker safety, environmental impact assessment, and globalization.
So in India, a land of
teeming millions, poor teeming millions the value of life is pretty low, or maybe there is no value tagged to human life at all.
Pretty much explains why we do not place much value on animal life either. Wild life in our country is in dire straits as this post explains. The government has enough on its plate (more on that later), and speaking at the individual level, it’s difficult to expect a forest guard who cannot feed his kids and is unable to provide them with a good education to resist the temptation of a bribe. He would be more worried about his own genes becoming extinct rather than a tiger’s.
The value we have for plants and trees is even less. Forget about the government, how can you expect a woman who toils 16 hours a day to feed her 6 stunted children who are out of school, to care about whether she is depleting the forest reserves?
The government’s bankruptcy, both ethical and economical
Continuation from the wiki:
Some advocates feel that putting an economic price tag on life is “inhumane”, because every life is “priceless”. However, with a limited supply of resources or infrastructural capital (e.g. ambulances), or skill at hand, it is impossible to save every life, so some trade-off must be made.
Yeah, we make trade-offs. With the limited infrastructure available in our country, we are focusing on what the government thinks is important…the next elections for example!
And when it comes to saving lives, it’s the politicians’ lives, industrialists’ lives that are more important. Not just lives, VIP’s need to be saved from the law as well! And not just them, even their kith and kin…
Talk of inequalities…!
The positive side of the story is that these kind of inequalities have started coming to light with increasing frequency…and human rights groups, animal rights groups and green groups are getting vociferous, with more support from global organisations. India is now more visible than it ever was, and therefore the increasing focus on what the country is doing or not doing.
India I think is waking up from it’s slumber. A number of new legislations have been enacted and many more are on the anvil. The RTI Act has helped tremendously, and the media is doing it’s bit by exposing the soft spots…blogs included! What we need now is education for all. Not only will this make people participate in our growing economy, it will make them aware of their rights and responsibilties as citizens. And the duties and obligations of the government. In a democracy, the people’s will prevails…and I am waiting for the day when we have an enlightened electorate.
Guess I have diverted from the main topic…but well, I feel pretty emotional about this.
(Picture is by me)
Related Reading: How safe are we in India from fire?