Cart. Horse.

It’s beyond sad that a man had to carry his wife’s body for 10 kilometers for want of an ambulance (and the means to pay for one)

It’s beyond pathetic that this is used to lampoon the development that the NDA is delivering on.

First, some facts. This happened in Odisha where the BJD – and NOT the BJP – is in power. In fact, the BJD has been in power since 2000, and the state’s never voted for the BJP since 1980 (when it voted in the Janata Party).

Healthcare is a state subject, and the woman had passed away at a state-administered hospital. Unless you are still the sort that likes your father to manage your finances when you are 40+, you will probably understand why the Central Government cannot interfere with a state-government-run organization.

A lot of rhetoric-blinded [insert suitable descriptive noun(s) here] folks have been asking, “Is this ‘development’?”

This isn’t. Or, in the words of Hamilton Burger, “Objected to as incompetent, irrelevant and misleading.” Development is not a switch that transforms the lives of everyone in an instant. It is a process that takes time – and it will take time for the changes to percolate down to the last district, town, village, down to the last beneficiary it was intended for. A highway in Kashmir serves only those travelling that route, not a petrolhead in Chennai – but that doesn’t mean the highway in Kashmir doesn’t exist.

I read another inane remark on FB. “We should be ashamed of spending money on space shuttles when we can’t send an ambulance…” By the same logic, isn’t it absurd we buy SUVs when a student (whose life we can touch, such as your servant’s kid, the security guard’s kid, heck, just a kid you see around the neighborhood!) can’t afford a cycle to go to school? Isn’t it absurd that we spend lakhs on schooling for our children when that money, if used for a government school, could have transformed the lives of so many more? Hell, why the f*ck are you even on Facebook when there are villages in India that aren’t covered by any telephone network? Reductio ad absurdum, anyone?

Know what this reminds me of? Vultures.

Without Digital India, without e-Governance, without Startups India, without ambitious transport networks and finally, without our fellow citizens coming out of their narrow-mindedness when it comes to India’s India (as opposed to Modi’s India, Manmohan’s India or Yechury’s India) we aren’t going to see a change next time this happens.

I am not saying that the outrage is misplaced. When countries younger than us are able to look after their citizens better, this state of affairs is inexcusable. But the answer does not lie in scoring political brownie points. Organizations sitting on huge piles of cash and wasting them on pointless PR/photo-op CSR exercises should step in and offer ambulances to off-beat regions (where no one may have heard of the company, but hey, isn’t this brand building too?) Individuals should check out the facilities in their own neghborhoods and do what needs to be done. Parties can run their own ambulances, in fact, and no one will object to their leaders’ pics being plastered all over the place if it can save people’s lives (but, my cynicism tells me, what will happen is that the Opposition’s ambulances will always get stuck in traffic while the ruling parties’ vans – even the empty ones – will be able to zoom past!)

In any case, I must applaud the members of the 4th estate who, allegedly, called an ambulance for the bereaved widower. The fact that they got their ‘pity’ shots in makes little difference in this matter.