Fuel Hike Fury
By Poonam I Kaushish
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. One doesn’t need any guesses to decipher in which category our leaders and State Governments fit. Else who would have the temerity to hike fuel prices ranging from Rs 1 to Rs 7 and charge corona virus cess of upto 70% on liquor? Specially at a time when the aam aadmi is grappling with their monthly budgetary expenses crippled by salary cuts and job losses. Welcome to Covid 19desh ki rajniti: The new Carpetbaggers!
Our leaders’ logic defies rationality. The lockdown has resulted in a loss of revenue and excise duty, they reason. Tipplers will drink no matter what the cost of their nasha and people will be on the roads once the lockdown is lifted, so let’s in-cash. Perhaps they might be correct, but it stinks of callous disregard for a citizen’s well being. It’s akin to hitting a person below the belt when he is hurting, uncertain of what the future holds. Obviously, they seem to be guided by the dictum sabse bara rupiya!
Arguably, shouldn’t raising taxes be the last resort? Specially when crude prices the world over have crashed. While Ministers, bureaucrats and police travel in Government vehicles it’s the citizens who have to pay out of pocket suffer. Not only do they need to commute to work or run home errands but also burn petrol by getting stuck in endless traffic jams or having to take detours as roads are blocked for VIP movement. Add to this, the cost escalation of transportation of good and essential services.
However, for our politicians these “inanities matter little, it time to sacrifice for the nation”, averred a senior neta. Really, you could have fooled me. For our politicians have turned the maxim ‘life is under no obligation to give us what we expect’ on its head. Afflicted by the acute Oliver syndrome of always asking for more and the Orwellian disorder I-am-more-equal-than-you alongside the high octane decibels of Saada Haqthey simply don’t care a damn about how we live or suffer.
Think, our rulers are sarkari jawais wherein we pick up the tab for all their expenses: salaries, life-long pensions, residences, food, retinue of staff, chauffer driven cars and security. Indeed, if sobriety begins at home, should our netagan be living like Burra Sahibs in lavish five acres seven-star bungalows with manicured lawns, growing wheat and vegetables, furniture, air-conditioners, fridges and maintenance to boot, down to a Rs 10 tube-light all for free and yet, just about everybody, who’s anybody abuses power and public resources topped by being protected all at our cost. So what if it cost the tax payer an extra Rs 70 crores annually.
It doesn’t end just there. Each MP is entitled to free water upto 4000 kl per annum and electricity upto 50,000 units. Beside, Rs 30,000 of furniture, 1,50,000 local calls for 3 telephones and 50,000 free local calls during a year for internet. Down to washing of sofa covers and curtains every three months! As also a guard. Do our jan sevaks need a sepoy to protect them from their janata they profess to serve? All paid by the aam aadmi who continue to grovel outside soliciting a favour from their undata.
Scandalously, why and for what do our netagan need fancy pay-packets, perks galore and free travel, beats me.And isn’t it ridiculous that we are paying pensions to not only former legislators but their kin on his demise. For what? Didn’t we pay them when they served us? Considering that there is no jan seva involved that needs monetary compensation?The tragedy is that over the years we have become used to the ‘more equals’ playing havoc with the people and getting away with it.
Bad luck, the hoi polloi, packed like sardines live in tin boxes atop each other. Thereby, making a mockery of social distancing resulting in increase of corona case. Mumbai’s Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum a case in point where it is impossible to segregate the infected or quarantine them. For over 70 years successive Governments have twiddled their thumbs instead of rectifying the ills that plague the area.
Questionably, haven’t we had enough? Do our rulers know the reality of Asli Bharat which they ad nauseum vow to protect? Do they care a damn? Is the aam aadmi’s well-being merely about statistics?
Pertinently, even as NGOs, gurdwaras and citizen groups are busy giving a helping hand by feeding labourers, poor and migrants one hears a deafening silence from our elected representatives who are cocooned in the comfort of their homes. I have neither seen nor heard either my MP or MLA come forth by providing succor or relief. Isn’t it a part of their job description? Are they not meant to work for the janata’s welfare? Sic.
Alas, we seem to live in an India where only VVIPs matter, living life in the slim strip called ‘official’ in a race for privilege. Wherein there is a wide chasm between the aam aadmi and our khaas aadmis. Leading to increasing frustration, disconnect and contempt for the rulers which results in defiance by people at large.
Most times our babus sitting in airconditioned offices just issue orders without studying the ground realities. A case in point. The Prime Minister announced a lockdown at 8PM to come into effect at midnight. None spared a thought of the lakhs of migrant workers who were left high and dry as factories closed, landlords threw them out for non-payment of rents and trains stopped. Homeless and jobless they were bundled in relief camps not up to the mark, sans money barely able to keep body and soul together.
Their woeful plight is heart wrenching. Daily we read about workers dying on the wayside from Delhi to Bihar due to starvation or being run over by a speeding vehicle as they cycle to Madhya Pradesh from Lucknow. On Friday 15 workers were run over by a train in Aurangabad as they fell asleep on the track enroute to Chhattisgarh.
Undoubtedly, one needs neither a bleeding heart nor blindness to see how our polity capitalizes on human tragedy to fill their vote-bank coffers. Everything is kaam chalao! Busy as our netagan are enlarging their respective “relief empires” and pointing accusing fingers at each other. Tragically, exposing the political and administrative callousness towards human life. Emblematic of our rulers’ broken promises.
The TV media feeds off the disaster in a new circus act every night with netas of different stripes and colours doing what they do best: Tu-tu-mein-mein and finger-pointing forgetting that sound and fury signifies nothing.A vulgar tamasha of manufactured grief specially those representing Opposition parties, scrambling for sound bytes and twitter trolls.
With a new generation coming of age our rulers including bureaucrats and police need to grasp gone are the days when leaders were revered, today they symbolise everything that plagues India, warts and all.We do not need gestures which total zilch because when truth becomes a casualty one ends up with only babble and bedlam. —— INFA