Slaughterhouse Country


image from here

I remember a tragic incident from the time when I was in school. There was a narrow two lane bridge on Yamuna close to my house. One fine day, a school bus plunged into the river from that bridge. Reason? The driver lost control because of his rash driving. The children could have been saved if the bridge had a strong concrete railing instead of a feeble iron one, similar to the one used in the balcony of houses. I still remember the face of a mother whose son was never found. The water was too muddy – the divers said. They searched for five days.

Do you know how many children were there in the bus? 120.

One of my British colleagues once made a very interesting observation. He said that we do not treasure life because we believe it is cyclical. We believe that anyone who dies will be reborn and thus don’t care about anyone dying.


But look around you. 4,97,686 road accidents were reported in 2011. 1,42,484 people died in road accidents in 2011 [link]. The statistics are easily available. A lot of us know about them. Still we see people incessantly breaking traffic rules. I have seen school buses jump traffic lights and ply in the wrong direction.

I remember a particular flyover that was constructed in Delhi. It was faulty with a very dangerous curve. It took the sacrifice of 8 human lives on that stretch before the administration woke up. Yes, DDA waited for 8 people to die before they installed safety measures.

How many pilots have died in the faulty MIG airplane crashes? Of the 872 MiG series fighter aircraft purchased by the government till 1980, a total of 482 planes have crashed till now, killing 171 pilots and 39 civilians [link]. Well, we have 390 more airplanes to go.

What happened in Uttarakhand was a mass murder of the first degree. More than 10000 people massacred in cold blood. Warnings were ignored and there was no disaster management plan in place, hotels made on soft riverbed crashed into the river, food didn’t reach the needy on time even though the whole country chipped in to provide supplies.

There are so many buildings that are deemed unfit in case of an earthquake but people still live in them, work in them.

There are buses and trains that run over capacity as people hang dangerously from the doors. They don’t have an option. They have to go to work, put food on the table. I knew a boy who fell off a train, went into coma and died after 10 days. He was in college.

We leave rape victims to die helplessly on the roads. It has taken the sacrifice of thousands of acid attack victims for the rulers to wake up and do something about it. [link][link2]

In 2010, 8391 dowry death cases were reported across India. It means that a bride was burned every 90 minutes [link]

It is estimated that more than 10 million female foetuses have been illegally aborted in India. That is 6 million less than the number of people who died in World War I. In 2011, 15,000 Indian women were bought and sold as brides in areas where foeticide has led to a lack of women. [link]

India contributes 25 percent of the world’s child deaths [link].

Grains rot and never reach the needy. 21 million tonnes of wheat is wasted every year. [link] That is equivalent to the wheat production of whole of Australia.

2,56,913 farmers have committed suicide since 1995. Maharashtra posts a dismal picture with over 50,000 farmers killing themselves. [link]

Don’t even try to count the number of riot victims. [link] Religion in this country is like a woman who was tied-up and hidden in a cowshed and was raped by a different man every night.

What is it if not an utter disregard of human life? What is it if not a country that has turned into a slaughterhouse?

No, I do not find the cyclical life argument laughable anymore. What makes us think that even a single life lost is Ok? It is not just a number. It is a dead human being. Who could have been saved.

And then I wonder if it has something to do with abundance of life? We deem life worthless because it is available in excess in our country? What is another man dead when we have crores of them?

Or is it the fact that we are never taught compassion. An outsider is not the same as your family. We have a shield firmly placed in front of our feelings when it comes to anyone who is not of our own blood. And I have seen this feeling grow over the last decade. We are more self-centered, more suspicious, more inhuman.

And of course, there is money to be made. We believe in compensations after tragedies. We believe in forming committees to probe deaths when we could have averted them in the first place. Committees about which the dead don’t care and neither the living after a while.

Some of us believe in repenting. Yes, we tend to do that after an accident. An accident that could have never happened.

Sometimes I wonder if we deserve each other. The politicians and citizens. Many of us have blood on our hands. We have wrapped our dead unborn daughters in newspaper and thrown them in dustbins, haven’t we? We have allowed our children to sit in a bus filled with 120 souls instead of objecting.

Yes, this slaughterhouse is a joint venture and a successful one. It is said that when the battle of Mahabharat ended, the soil in Kurukshetra was thick with blood. It is still red if you dig it a bit. But we don’t have to do it anymore. Just look at your hands. It will be invisible at first but you will see the red stains if you concentrate.

A handful of us who can still maintain our sanity have to believe that there is always hope. What else can be there after so much bloodshed?

69 comments on “Slaughterhouse Country

  1. Only yesterday two people died due to potholes on the road- one in Hyderabad and another in Mumbai. They fell from their bikes and sustained fatal injuries. And we all know about the film maker who was electrocuted in SN market. But was any one held accountable? Any action taken so that precious lives are not lost? I see high tension wires dangling in most markets. We don’t value life. Perhaps we are just too many to count.

    • Alka,
      The cases you have mentioned won’t even count. It has to be a massive tragedy for someone to notice it and make a committee. 1 or 2 people dead is all right. Very normal.

  2. Hmm
    Just yest I saw a documentary in which a victim of acid attack named tuba spoke up . Her condition saddening and I couldn’t watch her beyond 10 min but what should I do ? What can I do . That video showed what all u spoke just now a NRI shot this in India . She feels fortunate as she is not born here
    Strange . Ppl r scared of India . Every thing is just unpredictable here . I rise my voice when ever I can. Rest of the times I m just helpless Amit !

    • Afshan,
      A lot of people are lending a helping hand. There are a lot of citizen and NGO initiatives to make things better.
      But then how can we change the mindset in general to treat every life as precious? It has to come from within.

  3. and someone once told me that in India you dont worry too much about human life because there are so MANY of you that you have lost the value of human life 😦 Its really really really sad..

    • R’s Mom. There are so many factors that have lead to this situation. And it is getting worse every day. What kind of a country allow court cases to run for 30 years? Nirbhaya’s case was fast tracked. It has been 8 months now. That is the condition of a fast tracked case.

  4. Not to forget about the mid day meal tragedy, the recent and of the past; the burning nursing home in Kolkata (AMRI), flyover collapse & so much more… 😦 Feel hopeless…

    • Oh and there are more murders during the Panchayat elections in West Bengal than the gang wars… My father was on election duty in a particular constituency which saw 2 murders in broad daylight and my dad was a witness to that. Imagine our horror!

      • Mid Day meals tragedy has opened another can of worms. I wonder how many other such tragedies are waiting for happen.
        The less said about West Bengal the better. It is a state run by a mad woman.

        • True that! 😦 The state is like, from frying pan to fire. People had high hopes for the mad woman, I never had though & now all her promises for industrialization & better employment opportunities have gone for a toss. 😦

  5. Amit, what can I say. I don’t think it has anything to do with belief in cyclical life. It has everything to do with apathy and lack of basic etiquette. Also, with a large population, we are struggling with a crumbling infrastructure. Corruption is endemic. Everyone wants to fill their pockets. And yes, people are shameless, they will take away money meant for poor women and children, hospitals and roads, and don’t care a damn if they have to personally squash someone’s neck. That is how brutal our society is. Why do you think hit-and-run is so common in India? It is only each person’s life that we look out for!

  6. I have to reblog this Amit. I hope you don’t mind. Normally I ask for permission and wait until it is given, but right now I am too stirred up to wait. You are welcome to sue me later.

    • I would have taken solace in the politicians are bad we are good argument if that would have been the case. Clearly it is not. There is something terribly wrong in the way we are wired.

  7. I was thinking the other day, we brag about being emotional and sensitive to the whole world and care the least about human lives. It is so frustrating when you just cannot make people understand that what they preach are just double standards. I have to share this Amit!

    • I don’t think we are emotional and sensitive at all. That is just a facade. Our society believes in extreme double standards.
      Thank you for sharing this.

  8. Reblogged this on Serenely Rapt and commented:
    In his post, Amit says Indians have a cavalier attitude towards life. He says for us life is cheap, it is abundant and hence it is treated in a casual, off- hand manner. People losing their lives is not a big deal to us. We are stoic- and irreverent- towards something that should be very precious.
    I agree with him. Life is indeed cheap for us.
    Is it- as Amit says- because life is a cycle of birth and death? I am tempted to accept that explanation, but some niggling thought makes me reject it. It is too pat; It gives us too much leeway. It gives us the excuse to pretend to be nobler than we are.
    If all of us truly understood the cycle of birth and death, we would be loath to behave in ways that degrade our soul. We wouldn’t treat life so casually. We would have a lot more reverence for life than we display today.
    To understand the cyclic nature of life, you would have to understand and accept the spiritual nature of human beings. You would understand the impact of Karma; you would be a lot more deliberate and aware of the state of your spiritual bank account of which karma is the ledger. How could you so easily deplete the stature of your own soul by treating the lives of others with anything but deep reverence? Wouldn’t you know that the souls of all other humans are also a part of the divine as yours is?
    I don’t know what the reason is. All I have are vague impressions- untested and unvalidated. Perhaps with time my impressions will condense into certainties. Maybe they will not.
    All I know is that with this (almost) soliloquy, I am setting forth an intention in my consciousness. I hope my soul will take this intention as a command and lead me to the answers that must exist within me.
    I end this with a prayer to Shiva. May we all take a step upward in consciousness.

  9. Have you ever wondered why such calamities strike only in the sub continent be it human or of material loss! The Malthusian Theory is at work and we get the leaders who are clueless to handle situations.

    • Rahul,
      I wonder if it is actually the Malthusian Theory that is at work here. We have tonnes of food grain that is wasted every year. Clearly, it is a case of mismanagement which I think is very complex to overcome in this country.

  10. We are in a downward spiral Amit as far as the events in this country are concerned. A very pertinent post. The attitude towards life is totally callous. No one cares who lives and who dies.

    • Keeping people safe and caring for them is a huge responsibility. Every life is precious. And we could never get this simple and plain fact.

  11. To have hope without a reason to hope is more like resignation. But ofcourse the fact that this is being written and read is hope. I think we have just got used to it – maybe if we were to hear I wish our media learns to make TRPs through genuine efforts to create awareness about issues that really matter. Like Satyamev Jayate. I am surprised nobody else picked up those issues and continued the wave that begun to rise. 😦

    • IHM,
      I do have hope. I look around and see people and NGOs helping the needy. But then there is this other end of the spectrum which is completely horrifying. That is what concerns me.
      Yes, strange isn’t it. I wish it would have continued.

  12. Now that you mentioned it makes sense..Maybe people take rebirth very seriously. The recent food poisoning incident and many such only shows the callous attitude of people towards life! What is worse is the noone knows how to control it..

    • Yes, callous is the word. It is sickening to see so many deaths all around you happening since so many years and no one doing nothing about them.

  13. What does one add to this? This is a cruel country because its people don’t care. It is in our genes to be hopelessly selfish.
    Contrary to what many of us delude ourselves into thinking, we are not deemed for greatness of any kind.

  14. There is a problem of plenty. We really need very very strict measures to curb the growing population. There is no other way. I don’t know how efficient our useless govt. will be if they just had to handle even a thousand. But in that case, we can atleast help each other.

    • Yes, I believe that is the root of every evil. But then, I also believe that human nature is far beyond all this. We always find ways to be corrupt unless we have fear for the law. That is something that does not exist in this country.

    • You think so? The problem is that we have so many examples out there in the world regarding how to go about and care for the people. We have an attitude problem. Disregard runs in our genes.

  15. I feel we do not give importance to ‘other humans’, The attitude is “we are fine, to hell with others”. On top of it the caste, religion adds on to the cheapness. “Oh he/she is from this caste, who cares what happens to them.” Kind of attitude.
    Most people behave like this and say foreigners are brutal and have no social sense and family bonding, I feel like laughing my arse out! They should see how people here are family oriented! such narrow minded ness.
    I have had enough of giving my opinions on this on social media and blogs. I feel so sad I could not change anything at all..Sometimes feel like an escapist that I escaped from all those pangs and living here. But I had enough struggle and fights on this and have given up and need peace in my life!

    • Exactly. It is just about you. Always about you.
      I think foreigners have so much regard for a human life that you have to see it to believe it. It is unbelievable. We on the other hand are hypocrites and racist,

  16. I was just going to say what R’s Mom commented. People are not valued in India because the place of full of them! The country is overflowing with people, what’s a few dead or alive? What difference does it make? Or that’s the attitude…… 😐

  17. Coincidence. Yesterday, while dropping the kids at school, I saw one of the buses of another school with over 90 students, 4 teachers, an aaya, the driver and the cleaner. I am sure this stuffing would not be helping in the reduction of fees, rather it would be the school administration’s decision to cut down on their expenses.

    Each of us has to be blamed for the condition of the country. Some of us feel, it doesn’t matter to us, because it has nothing to do with our family. Some of us do feel the pinch, but we choose to keep quiet. Some others just forget it after some deep thought and discussions. And to those of whom, it directly affects, aren’t either aware of their rights or are scared that they may get into trouble. This mentality is what the politicians and bureaucrats of the country play with. They know things won’t move beyond a certain level. Pity it is! Wish things could be changed for good, before another tragedy hits.

    • Yes, that is the irony. It still happens. Even after so many dead, we still do not get it. Another tragedy, another committee. That is the mantra.
      There is hardly any accountability and that is what scare people off. And give courage to the corrupt.

  18. Your British Colleagues Statement is Correct , Also wherever there are abundance of any resource , people dont care for it like Human resource in India … Also water , minerals , land , food , grains , sunlight etc etc , we have everything in abundance in India … hence we care for nothing….We all are kutte ki aulad… Sorry Kutte are better,.. Bloody Indians…

    • Whoa! 🙂 That was a bit harsh. But yes you are right. We have made a mess of each and every resource. 1500 crores was spent to clean Yamuna. But the dirty stretch has now increased from 500 to 600 km. I am sure it was an impossible task.

      • is it harsher than the slaughter or fraction of it … ???? 🙂 What Amit hum log apna hi mazaak bana dete hain…aur wo bhi ghatiya mazaak , marne maarne ka mazaak … aur wo bhi variety tarike hote hain ..innovative maarne ke … aur phir mast rahne ke…Mast Ram masti mein aag lage basti mein..

  19. We don’t value human life….media tries to increase their TRP’s by showing pictures of people dying….next day we forget what happened yesterday and life moves on….

    In a village in Bhopal people mortgage their kids to the rich landlords for a meal…such a bad state we are in…the largest democratic country is not able to feed their people…

    Politician wait for something to happen so that they can blame each other and some wait for things to happen so that they can make money from the funds meant for those victims…

    • Saritha,
      we have to move on because we have families to feed. For how many days can a common man sit on a dharna? And this is exactly what political parties rely on. They know that things will cool down eventually.
      If you are poor and in India, then you are in a living hell. You do not have to die. You are already as good as dead.

  20. What happens in our country is politics over death..
    if you are a common man.. your family play politics, otherwise we have specially designed politicians 😛

    no worth for human life, especially if that life belongs to a middle or class lower than that..
    Concept of rebirth.. I don’t think it justifies anything
    I always think of what Grucho Marx says about politicians.. and especially how that perfectly suits in India scenario

    Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

    • Yes, I believe that if you are poor and live in India, then your life does not mean anything. It cannot get worse than this. I think what Marx said can be modified by adding ‘and end up killing thousands’ in the end.

  21. For the first time in my life, I have seen how valuable life is considered.Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case back home at India and I assume it is because of the huge population. 😦

  22. We follow a strange mix i guess , we believe in the old ways where life is cyclical and eternal and births and deaths until moksha even in ichha mrityu and fate… But our legal system is latin and british base which holds life more precious than the quality of life one leads.
    1. We have atleast 3 children so that at least one takes care of us in old age.
    2. We argue about right to life …. never mind quality of life being lead…
    3. The elite politicians with their vvip culture dont care about the life of the aam admi but make sure they do trips to houses of aam admis, especially pre elections.
    4. The life of a terrorist is more precious than that of the common man.
    5. It is easier to die after a road accident because nobody bothers to take the victim to hospital or treat him until the formality of a police case is done but it takes more than a decade to hang a person on death row.
    6. We have people petitioning the president for allowing euthanasia of their mentally handicapped kids while the state funds for giving handicapped aid are pocketed by trusts of sitting cabinet ministers !
    7. We dont mind keeping dead politicians on ventilators at taxpayers cost in foreign countrys or send them to USA ta taxpayers cost for routine operation but cant afford to give a common citizen a decent health system. Our courts hold life sacred, damning the suffering to a slow and torturous death, while Scandinavians have now gone soft on euthanasia of the dying as their aging and rich population is focusing more on quality rather than quantity of life .
    8. Politicians abhor dowry but embezel state funds so that they can fund their daughters dowry.. Why not legalize dowry such that it is a trust fund for the daughter and put it in the marriage document .. finally it is a parents gift to daughter.
    9. We have laws for everything but loopholes in each and every law .
    10.We can afford giving rice at 2 rs a kg but not to employ sufficient police to man the streets or sufficient judges to man courts to clear pending cases.

    It comes down to the fact that Accountability starts and flows from the top… If our leaders are never accountable for their misdeeds … cant expect us to be any different. Easier to be a benevolent dictator than a responsible leader…

    • I think it will take a few centuries to come out of this situation. That too if we get a steering from the citizens and the politicians. Otherwise we will live with this rotting system and pass it on as a gift to our next generation.

  23. I was just told of a similar incident 2 days back.. An office colleague’s brother was attached with acid few days back, outside his house when he was having a morning walk…Why, He tried to save his phone which was being snatched and in return has got a completely burnt face.. 5-6 surgeries for his face.. Is a phone worth injuring someone so much??.. How can people turn so ruthless???… The state of affairs in this country have turned from worse to worst and no one knows where it will be in the future…

      • A few days back a woman was shot at because she tried to resist a chain snatching bid. Imagine a person losing a life for saving a gold chain. That is how cheap life is in this country.

  24. These numbers and logistics gave me goose bumps. Sadly, it is true. Now, I strongly came to believe, if a person steps out of the door in the morning, there is no guarantee he will return home tonight.

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