Saturday, September 12, 2009

Are we Ready for the Games?

By: Kapil Mishra
Are we ready to the games?
Seven girls have died in a Delhi Government school following a stampede. This extremely sad and painful incidence is being handled as if it is just another accident.
Seven families have lost their beloved daughters and they don’t even know whom to blame for it.
Sudden death of these girls when they were in school is shocking and simply unacceptable. Accountability should be fixed and culprits should be punished severely. Authorities can not turn away from their responsibilities.
We all know that this is not going to happen and similar incidents will keep taking place in future also. If we look at the school and the locality where this school is located, we find that this school was situated in a poor unauthorised colony where there is no basic infrastructure available. Most of the students who study in this school are from lower socio-economic strata of our society. This is one of the most neglected areas in the city.
There are 1600 unauthorised colonies, hundreds of J.J. Clusters and rural villages in the city and more than 70% of the population of the city lives in these areas. They do not have access to piped drinking water, most of these areas are not connected with regular sewage system, and these areas do not have access to primary health centres and other basic infrastructure.
Sending their girl child to school is never an easy decision for parents from these backgrounds. Most of the girls who go to schools in these areas are first in the history of their families to attend school. Fear of uncertain is the biggest fear that stops parents from continuing the education of their girl child. Everywhere in Delhi eve teasing is a common phenomenon outside such schools. Most often girls do not even tell incidences of eve teasing to their parents because of the fear that if they will share it, their parents will stop sending them to school. A distant dream that this education may help them change their fate and make them come out of the vicious circle of poverty is the motivation that makes these girls so brave that in spite of all odds they keep strive for better education and opportunities. Every girl who is continuing higher education in these schools is doing so at her own risk.
Insecure environment, lack of basic infrastructure and fear of uncertain are common barriers to their path apart from religious and social traditions. Any such incidence may shatter the dreams of many others who are bravely facing all barriers and are struggling their way out of this system. Who is responsible for the death of these girls? Who is accountable for murder of thousands of innocent dreams? People who have this responsibility of creating an enabling environment and also of ensuring that every citizen especially weaker ones like these girls from poor most strata of society are feeling safe and are getting equal opportunities, namely our political leadership and bureaucrats are simple shrugging off their responsibilities. They have more important work to do i.e. the organisation of Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Around 12 years back more than 30 school children died in Delhi when a school bus fell into the yamuna river apparently because of a age old narrow bridge at wazirabad. Government and authorities have immediately announced that a new and wider bridge will be constructed at that place. But nothing has happened even after twelve years of the incident.
In a city where more than 60% population do not get piped water supply, where equal number of people do not have access to basic health facility, where quality education is still a luxury afforded by only 10% people of the society, where sewage, pakka road and complete nutrient diet are still a distant dream for a major section of population, where labour rights are alien concept, this question naturally comes to the mind of concerned citizens of delhi “are you ready for the games?” and the only definite and sensible answer to this is “No”.
Death of these girls should wake up the authorities to the hard core realities of poor standards of infrastructure and administration in our society and we should take urgent actions to address these issues, hiding away into the unrealistic world of games is surely not the way to go.