The Elphinstone Tragedy Needs Consistent Response, Not Knee-jerk Reaction

As citizens of a democracy, it is is also on us to demand consistent response and effective action from our governments, rather than knee-jerk reaction.

As citizens of a democracy, it is is also on us to demand consistent response and effective action from our governments, rather than knee-jerk reaction.

Most of us live in our respective cocoons, trying to create our own idyllic world, devoid of conflicts or turmoil. Toiling towards this endeavor, often, we become isolated, cut off from the problems of the rest of the world or the way it lives. However, once in a while comes a tragedy so gut churning that, we end up questioning the very social or moral fabric that we choose to live by; like the horrific stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station, a consequence of the prolonged neglect of urban public transport in India. 

Does human life mean squat to us in India? Do we need a tragedy to shake us out of our stupor? Skewed policies or knee-jerk reactions towards overhauling the archaic transport systems wouldn’t work. A course correction and restructuring of mass transport in all cities, plus augmenting the creaking and broken infrastructure should be a high priority,

Experts say that the way a society reacts to tragedy, shows how mature we are, how our moral fulcrum is tilted. According to a report, in this stampede, a female victim was allegedly molested seconds before breathing her last, as she lay on a heap of bodies. Many people stole purses and gold ornaments from women. How could any human molest a girl who was fighting for her life and asking for help? Can we sink any lower? I presume that even the animal world is far gentler to their suffering folk. Yet life will go on, Mumbai will go on!

A National Highway and a Metro line separates two Gurgaons. Just across a famous station, inside those byzantine lines, exists another Gurgaon, untouched by growth, with its open naalis, crumbling houses and worse. We close our eyes to the same and just coexist! Period!

Where am I leading with all this? Apart from fool proofing our lives, if we can, in any way, put even a tiny stop to the spiraling chaos all around, we would have lived!

Here, I have to mention the recent movie, Newton.

The movie features some seemingly small cogs in this gigantic wheel, who somehow, try to do their duty, in spite of overwhelming odds. Hopefully, that is what most of us are trying to do!

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As the heroine tells the hero, ‘No big work is done in a day. Just keep at it. Live your life as righteously as possible and hopefully things will fall in place.

But this premise is extremely difficult to believe, leave alone adhere to, especially in these utterly cynical times. Thankfully, we do have many positives to cheer for ourselves. Our great electoral process is one for sure.

Newton is a good movie filled with terrific lines. Here are two examples.

Tumhe Imaandari ki Ghamand hai’. (You have the arrogance of integrity) – If only everyone were afflicted with this or accused of this particular trait!

(I would love to change this to ‘Mahaanta Ki Ghamand’ or the pride of greatness, because this is also a serious all-round affliction.  Because, “Aaj kal Sab Apne Aap, Mahaanta ki chaadar odhke, chal rahe” – Today, each of us cloaks ourselves in greatness and strut around.)

If you change nothing, nothing will change.

We need to constantly question, and demand solutions!

Agreed there are enough ennui inducing circumstances…But, if we all give up? Then?

Image credits Rajarshi Mitra, used via Flickr under Creative Commons license 2.0

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About the Author


Anupama Jain is the author of: * ’Kings Saviours & Scoundrels -Timeless Tales from Katha Sarita Sagara’, listed as one of the best books of 2022 by @Wordsopedia. Rooted in the traditional storytelling of Indian legends, warriors, read more...

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