“People” in Politics

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The one thing that you should know about me by now is that I dislike politics. I did enter politics, however! Confusing? Not really. If you like people, if you are committed to fighting for justice, and want to help them improve the quality of their life, politics is one of the places to be. However, if you like people, you cannot like the way politics is practised today. Because there are no “people” in politics.

Every person is an end in themselves and therefore every life is valuable. Privilege, status, money and so on does not, in any way, make any life more important than the another. This very idea, however, has no place in Bihar. This cruel reality about my home state has always troubled me. People die in Bihar everyday and I have never seen the government (or the opposition) bat an eyelid. Moreover, this notion that “5 people do not matter” is absurd, irresponsible and immature beyond words. Let me ask a brutally honest question “what if one of them is someone you love?.” Think for a moment about it. Loss of one (person) is as painful (and consequential for someone) as loss of hundreds. And therefore it is the government’s duty to protect every life.

Duty and protection, however, are not the words in the government’s dictionary. The government has many departments as we all know. One of them is the Meteorological Department and the other is the Information and Public-Relations Department. The former is the one that is supposed to alert government with weather forecasts and the latter IPRD is established to inform and alert people in advance about rain, lightning, thunderstorm and so on. The same department that has been sending us messages everyday on behalf of Mr Nitish Kumar, CM of Bihar, that the Government is fighting COVID-19 and doing all that is possible. A message which sounds more like an advertisement for CM and less of information — another example of abuse of power and waste of hard-earned public money.

In the past ten days over thirty people have died due to bad weather and lightning. No, it was not unavoidable, it happened due to the government’s incompetence. Why were people not pre-informed to stay indoors? Has the government ever alerted us about the bad weather or any other unfortunate event? No. Why were people not sent that message instead of the uninformative advertisement that was sent to us twice daily for a few days? Moreover, if the government is doing what it should, should that be celebrated? Have not you been elected to do that? Second, why send a message about it, people will know if the government is working. Clearly, because they are not. Last, but not the least, who is responsible for these deaths? Most of the people died outside their house (many farmers). They could have been alerted, many casualties could have been avoided.

Death is death. These people did not die because of Covid-19, but they still died. Are these lives less important than the lives lost by the unfortunate global crisis? Most of these deaths could have been easily averted. This takes me back to a very serious ethical public policy discourse: “killing versus letting die”. Is there a difference? Furthermore, where does the buck stop? Bizarrely, the government in Bihar is never responsible for anything, especially the head of the state. It deeply saddens me to see how human life has no value in Bihar. But, then again, think for a moment what if one of them was someone we knew or loved? These are the questions that we need to ask now because it involves people and people’s lives are priceless.