The dispensables

The focus of the state has narrowed down to a spotlight which can encompass only a few – the more-equal-than-others


Pratap Vikram Singh | November 10, 2012

In days of widening income inequality, Abraham Lincoln's phrase, 'government of the people, by the people and for the people', can be safely reversed. Government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. In the Indian context, it hold truer than ever. Consider this: between 8 and 16 November, a significant population from the national capital travels to Bihar to be with their families in their hometowns during Chhath festival. According to a report published in the Hindi national daily, Jan Satta, on Saturday, the northern railway, in view of the increase in the number of passengers, decided to increase the number of coaches in Sampoorna Kranti Superfast Express (12394/93), not for the general category passengers but for the elites. 

Though adding another coach may not be the most brazen and shameless act, but doing it on the cost of another general and unreserved category coach, certainly is. The super-fast express has a total number of 24 coaches. Coach composition is as follows: 11 sleeper, 5 unreserved and one each for first AC, second AC, engine and guard. Since the train could not ferry more than 24 coaches, adding a coach was not an option. Slicing a coach from sleeper category would have invited wrath from the middle class. So slicing the number of general, unreserved category, became the most lucrative option for the authorities.

A half section of a general coach was made into a first AC and another half a second AC coach. The first AC category has arrangements for 10 VIP passengers and the second AC category can accommodate 18 passengers. However, in the general category, on an average around 200 persons accommodate themselves, even as the coach has the sitting capacity for 72. During the festival season, though many unreserved category trains are expected to run from major cities to Patna, but not a single such train has been made available.

This is not a singular example of the state’s propensity to find the scapegoat in the poorest.

Travelling through Manipur recently, I learned that the state capital Imphal receives an electricity supply of just four to five hours in a day (imagine what the situation will be in the rest three valley and five hilly districts of Manipur!). Interestingly, not all residents of Imphal have to succumb to this fate. The state government has a facility for uninterrupted power supply lines, knows as VVIP and VIP lines, for the high and mighty – the ministers, bureaucrats, businessmen and a few selected commercial centres.

It seems the focus of the state has narrowed down to a spotlight in a realm of utter darkness. It can encompass only a few – other than them of course. The domain of the dispensables is left to fend for itself until it’s time to go to the hustings. A brief spell of bunting, big talk and a renewed brotherhood, the spotlight will shift focus again. Ain’t it the incredible India?   




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