Death in Cradle

Indian polity has always flummoxed me. Each and every Khadi clad leader could be seen shouting from his rooftop about desisting from communal and casteist politics. Come elections, and these leaders adopt only these very issues – like fish to water.

If it is not why in this general election leaders have failed to raise public issues in their election campaign. Why the issues that are close to the people”s heart or the issues that relate with the masses are not even touched.

The other day I saw a heart rendering scene of a young mother, 35, crying over the body of her seven-year old son Nand Kumar in encephalitis ward of the BRD college,Hospital in Gorakhpur, around 300 km south-east of Lucknow, the state capital of Uttar Pradesh.

She was crying “o mere babua, o mere bachcha” (O my son) shaking her head violently and falling over the body of her son, who died of encephalitis. At least 20 more children were admitted in that ward, some of them serious. Attendants of these children too came out to have a look at the grieving mother.

Fear was palpable in the eyes of these relatives – it was the fear of death.

Gorakhpur has witnessed the scourge of encephalitis or the brain fever in last decade or so. In last three years over 4000 childern have died of this disease because the eastern Uttar Pradesh does not have the infrastructure to fight this menace.

Encephalitis or the brain fever is endemic to the eastern part of the state. This mosquito borne disease passes into human beings from pigs. Blinding headaches, seizures, nausea and high fever usually proceed death.

Only Gorakhpur”s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) College has the facility to provide medication to ailing children. The Primary Health Centers are incompetent to deal with such cases. Doctors vouch that in majority of the cases the Child is almost dead before it reached hospital.

Does the death of such a large number of children, aged between 5 moths to 15 years, is not an election issue for these political leaders. None of the leaders are talking about setting up of specialized centers at eastern Uttar Pradesh. If some leaders asking people to vote for Hindutava, other seeking votes on his caste.

An employee of the Hospital rightly said: “Why leaders would raise encephalitis as an election issue. It would not fetch them votes.”

Rightly so.

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