These days I am hearing a lot of debate on honouring martyrdom of soldiers. I respect them for doing their duty with utmost dedication and discipline. But are other lives less meaningful and important? Every year around 1000 persons die while cleaning manhole and septic tanks. Thousands of construction workers die building infrastructure for the nation. Many others can be added to this list – lineman repairing electrical connections, workers fixing/cleaning glass windows workers who install hoardings, who roll bidis, who manually produce fire crackers, mine workers,….the list is long 🙁
My question is why some lives lost are talked about, defended for and divide the nation into two? Saw one online campaign which says those who criticise army or don’t respect deaths of soldiers should be robbed off all privileges. Why so? Some other questions where I wish there is public sensitization and dialogue:
- We still live in an age and society where caste based occupations exist and appropriated for. A soldier’s (read kshatriya, 2nd in caste hierarchy) job and death is valued more than a sweeper or manhole worker’s who is at the lowest level of caste hierarchy.
- Why governments spend more budget for advanced weapons and vehicles for army, but does not think of basic technology and safety for sweepers, manhole workers, bidi rollers, fire cracker makers, construction workers and others? Perhaps caste matters in life and death 🙁
- Mainstream media, general castes and government are least bothered when a manhole worker dies, because in caste hierarchy, his life doesn’t matter. Only Dalits have to fight their battle, only adivasis have to fight their battle, general society doesn’t.
- In deaths, patriarchy also plays a role, hence women dying due to rape, domestic violence, mal-nutrition, lack of healthcare, and so on are not discussed about or emphasised/ worked on as it does not matter to men/ general society.
- Can add to this list deaths of children due to sexual assaults, lack of healthcare, malnutrition; deaths of migrant workers & industrial labour, deaths of refugees, civilians dying in encounters- combing operations in the name of insurgency….and many others.
Many questions and no answers..When as a society will we treat human rights of all individuals equally? When will birth, occupation, life and death of all be treated equally irrespective of caste, gender, religion, ethnicity?
Any thoughts? Please share. We need more people talking about such uncomfortable questions.