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As I watch the Gorakhpur tragedy unfold, "Nero's Guests", a documentary by P Sainath, comes to my mind. It concludes with Sainath's speech where he shares a piece of ancient history involving Nero, the infamous emperor of Rome.

When Rome burnt and Nero could not control the fire, he decided to throw a party and invite "everybody who was anybody" to deflect attention from the fire. But there was no provision to illuminate the huge garden that was supposed to accommodate the laundry list of invitees. Which is when Nero had an idea.

He summoned the convicts in the Roman jail, particularly the ones about to be hanged or imprisoned for life, and burnt them alive in the periphery of the garden. The fire ensured there was no absence of light, and the party went on without any difficulties.

As horrific as it sounds, Sainath makes an important point. "The problem for me is not Nero," he says in the speech. "What did Nero's guests do? Did they speak out against it?"

The reactions to the Gorakhpur massacre and I use the word massacre with all responsibility, indicate we, as a society, particularly the urban middle class, have become Nero's guests. The government hospital does not pay 60 lakh rupees for kids' oxygen but spends 40 crores on cow ambulances. In the aftermath of what happened, the doctor who spent from his own pocket to save kids is sacked. One or two other people have been suspended, but the babus, and more importantly, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have shrugged responsibility when the buck directly stops with him.

Yet, social media is flooding with comments normalizing the incident. We are being told how people have died at the hospital in the past, and how Gorakhpur is an ideal town. The doctor who saved kids is sacked and we are told how he is actually an immoral man being accused of crimes in 2009. So when Times Now anchor Navika Kumar asks her guest to not "rake up kids' deaths and divert from real issues" while debating Vande Mataram, she seems to be a mere reflection of Nero's guests who watch her show.

When a man is killed in Dadri, we discuss whether the meat in his fridge was beef. When a man is lynched in Rajasthan, we wonder whether he indeed had a legitimate permit, as if it justifies the lynching if he did not. The way we, in the media, report rural India, and the indifference with which the urban middle class treats the plight of those who are not "one of them", are all examples of normalisation that establish ourselves as Nero's guests. However, If 60 infants dying due to criminal negligence does not disturb us, then nothing will.

The normalization has severely and successfully diluted the value of human life. As George Orwell famously said, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others."

The death toll in the tragedy at BRD Medical college in Gorakhpur has reached 79, but there are no signs of the government focusing its priorities on the well being of citizens. Instead, the government and its obedient hordes on social media continue to seek scapegoats that would let those responsible for governance off the hook - no matter the cost.


What exactly happened?

When BRD Medical college did not pay their supplier of liquid oxygen since November 2016, the bills kept mounting. Pushpa Sales Pvt Ltd kept the supply going on humanitarian grounds for months, while demanding payments for the dues. The college did not pay. Finally, the supplier stopped the supply of oxygen to the hospital, leading to the deaths of large numbers of children and some adults - patients who were dependent on oxygen for survival.

Why were the bills not paid?

The hospital had 3.86 crore in its account on Wednesday. Yet the dues were not paid, putting patients at risk.

Multiple sources have revealed to the media that the payments were held back due to the supplier not paying kickbacks to people in key positions in the government.

What else do we know about the health priorities about UP government?

Well, here is how it is.

Talk of seriously warped priorities.

What action taken?

Well, Yogi Adityanath promised action and was dutifully and unquestioningly reported by a gushing media. Sakshi Maharaj called it a massacre. Clearly, BJP, as always was going to be "not responsible". Enter the mission bakra hunt!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvdOdI9-EaE

So who are the villains now?

Pushpa Sales

The supplier of oxygen, who provided oxygen to the medical college for months in spite of non-payment of dues and had to stop, because their supplier refused to give them more credit when the hospital wouldn't release funds... well, the government is booking them for holding back supply of life saving oxygen.

Dr. Rajiv Mishra

The principal of BRD medical college has been suspended - why is uncelar, because the UP government insists no one died because of lack of oxygen. The doctor says he anticipated this coming and had resigned. He had allegedly been instructed to hold back payments to Pushpa Sales.

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad

Dr Kafeel Ahmad appears to have been tossed on the heap mostly because he's an attractive target to trolls - likely because he is a Muslim, because otherwise, it is clear that he worked hard and at own expense to save lives of children when oxygen ran out. He still saw 60 die.

And of course, Muslim target locked, we have the usual suspects rewriting reality to coddle their masters. India Samvad and several other BJP mouthpieces put out articles slandering Dr. Kafeel Ahmad with their usual sleaze. Some of the nonsense put out is addressed here.

Apparently Dr. Kafeel Ahmad was caught appearing in medical exams on behalf of someone else, is a rapist, was suspended by Manipal university over criminal charges, verdict upheld by High Court ..... and other random results they could quickly cobble together in order to discredit him. 

Dubious stories and irrelevant to his actions in the emergency, regardless. Even if the stories were true, none of them explain why the oxygen bills were not paid by the hospital. And even if all the stories were true, it doesn't change the fact that he did save lives.

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad has a private practice. 

I dare BJP to enforce that doctors in government hospitals can't have private practice. All doctors in government hospitals have private practice. But wait. BJP would probably happily do it, given their overall goal to collapse and privatize healthcare anyway.

Deaths only happened in Dr. Kafeel Ahmad's ward, when there were also other adults depending on oxygen - who would have been at risk too, if oxygen supply was really cut off - inplying that Dr Kafeel Ahmad was somehow responsible for the deaths and not oxygen deprivation.

Flat out lie - Gorakhpur newsline reports the deaths of 18 adults as well.

The only thing abundantly clear at this point is that the BJP machine cares not a hoot for accountability and will punish others for their own actions and irresponsibility. There is still no explanation for why the hospital did not pay for life essential oxygen on time. Was there a scarcity of funds? Were there funds withheld? Who is to blame for the non-payment and will the heads of people responsible for these dead children AND adults ever face any consequences, or will random people continue to be persecuted and coverups splashed in social media till people tire of expecting accountability from this plague masquerading as a political party on yet another subject?

5

I am an atheist, but was Hindu by birth in a family that studied the dharma and followed it to its best. My father refused to do kanyadaan in my second marriage (in spite of the priest insisting that proper marriages have one), because a kanyadaan can be done only once for each daughter. This was later endorsed by the head priest of the temple where my father in law works. My mother-in-law does the full bells and whistles of made (special Brahmanical rules for purity that involve bathing, pure clothes, avoidance of touch of impure people - including other Brahmins not currently in that state, and more). I grew up knowing half the Gita by heart and I dare say I can still recite along - simply from hearing it so much. I grew up immersed in Hindu philosophy discussions under a man who had devoted his retirement to the study of religion and philosophy. I dare say I have a passing knowledge of what is respect for Hindu traditions and what is an insult.

This can be a long and varied debate, but the bottom line is, Brahmins cannot rule as per Hinduism. Sanyasis cannot chase material pursuits, including wealth and power. Whether a religious state is desirable is an entirely different debate as is you not minding because you "trust" them, but Brahmins in ruling positions in the government is already a mockery of Hindu beliefs.

Uma Bharti, for example is a self declared Sanyasi (is there any other kind?). Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Sakshi Maharaj or even Yogi Adityanath are some more.

A Sanyasi is one who has renounced Maya Moh. A sanyasi who desires votes that lead to a position of power is not a sanyasi, but a fraud and an insult to Hindu beliefs. Sanyas is not a joke. At least not for those claiming to respect Hindu traditions.

Sadhus are ascetics. They have dedicated their life to the pursuit of moksha.

The duplicity is extensive. For examples, the torch bearers of Indian nationalism are the creation of an organization that chose to not fight India's colonizers, choosing instead to focus on fighting the Muslims of the occupied Bharat, which now is the very breath in their lungs, since they don't have to risk anything to stake a claim. How can an entity that choose to abstain from fighting for freedom claim to be the real heir of the resulting free identity?

Where do the traditions of the RSS come from? I am not aware of Hindu traditions of shorts as uniform. It could be argued that dress changes with time, but shorts are still not accepted as traditional wear among the Hindus of India. On the other hand, shorts are a common garment in uniforms in the west.

The views of the RSS commonly echo Christian and Islamic beliefs, including lack of importance to caste (in theory), condemnation of women as "fallen" - a common theme and usual first assumption for any RSS supporter seeing a woman they do not like. The Artha shastra actually recommends a more severe punishment on one who insults a prostitute, but then that isn't what the supposed Hindu nationalists respect, is it? They see a prostitute as a bad woman and in fact call women they don't like prosititutes.

Hindu nationalists have a severe contempt for sex. RSS Pracharaks must be brahmacharis (abstaining from sex and marriage), which is probably what caused Modi to dump his wife and pretend to never have entered Grihasthashrama. It is a good fantasy, but the stages of life don't have a "rewind" button. A grihastha - man who marries and sets up home with wife can no longer be considered Brahmachari.

Speaking of Brahmacharis, RSS is full of bachelors in the land of the Kama Sutra, which is devoted to desire. Marriage (and bearing children) is a responsibility in life according to Hindu beliefs (also why Hindu parents tend to obsess over it). An organization of bachelors is basically one that prevents the natural cycle of life.

How can such apabhransh (violation/impurity) be considered representative or even respectful of Hinduism?

I understand many followers of the current cartel in power think of this blog as an unreliable and biased source. They are urged to ask their parents, gurus or anyone whose knowledge on Hinduism they respect the following questions:

  • Is it acceptable for a sanyasi to rule, campaign, or even prefer one government over another?
  • Is it possible to become a brahmachari after entering grihasthashrama?
  • Why do Hindu parents pressure their children to marry and tend to not approve of decisions of extended bachelorhood?

Hear the answers from an authority you trust - which is likely not me - and decide for yourself if you are being told the truth about the religion of this landgrab or you are being conned by using your love for your UPBRINGING to serve political goals of cunning strategists.

I do not believe that a religious state is compatible with India's constitution. To disregard the constitution is as good as a conquest of India by a completely different rule, which is what I believe is going on. However, I believe in democracy and it will mean that citizens wanting a religious state must also have voice. But perhaps citizens who want a Hindu Rashtra need to ask themselves whether what is being advertized is actually even respectful of Hinduism, let alone being an ideal Hindu rashtra.

2

Spent time on twitter after many days and it seems to be the day for absurd BJP quotes. Here are some of the ones that stay in mind.

The day after we hear that Chinese civilian nomads have pitched tents in Ladakh for over a week and are preventing work on an irrigation canal (in our territory) with the winter coming up we hear that the Modi (so vocal about criticizing lack of strong UPA2 responses to border violations) tweet "If I have to describe potential of India-China ties I will say — INCH (India & China) towards MILES (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy)!"

Uma Bharati, charged with the development of the Ganga blames the Uttarakhand floods of last year on atheists crapping near the shrines. I suppose developing the Ganga can safely ignore mining by cronies now.

In other news, woman BJP MP from Matura Vrindavan, Hema Malini says the widows of Vrindavan have bank balances and good income but are used to begging. This is right after she found their living conditions appalling. The whole controversy is surreal. Hema Malini apparently doesn't have an issue with widows being abandoned as long as other states provide facilities where women can be abandoned instead of sending to her constituency. The Congress retort sees this as divisive without apparently seeing any problem with the practice of abandoning widows either. One of the shining gems of Indian politics, complete uselessness of Indian women politicians on women's issues and overall absurdity.

In still other news, Nalin Koli seems to attribute the by election performance of BJP on voter fatigue - he probably does not realize that he is saying people got tired of choosing BJP - so soon after choosing them.

On the other hand, Yogi Adityanath of the "love jihad" fame has this to say about BJP's miserable by poll result in UP "I was not allowed to campaign everywhere."

And of course there is a whole avalanche of bhakt and rent-a-troll tweets saying the exact opposite things about the by poll results that they would have said if the result were different.

All in all, a most entertaining day.

Dang. Son woke. Publishing this anyway. Add your favorite quotes in the comments and if they are recent, I'll add them to the post when I return.