People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 51

December 17, 2006

Killer Animals Or Killer Policies?


G Mamta 


IN these days of robust growth, Yamraj is on a swansong in our country (yes, it is Yamraj and not Yash Raj). He is so busy writing off the names of human beings from our country that many beasts – not just his buffalo – are helping him in this endeavour. ‘Pigs gore a three-year old to death’, ‘Bull on rampage: one dies’, are some of the headlines in all the major newspapers in the national capital that testify to this fact. Even mosquitoes that can be killed by a clap of our two hands are Yamdoots. For the poor, in this horror movie called life, danger is lurking in every corner and every creature is a potential threat to their lives.


In the mid-eighties the then prime minister of our country had promised that he would lead us into ‘the 21st century’ –– a century of technology and bliss. Unfortunately the man who had promised is not alive but his worthy disciples are leading us today. 


Glitzy malls, swanky cars, flashy bulbs, bullish economy, corporate takeovers et al are portrayed as part of our odyssey into the 21st century. Along with all these what is really missing is the other side of the coin. Murky deals, panicky lives, filthy neighbourhoods, shady characters, penury, insolvency too are accompanying us. In fact, the contrast between these two worlds is growing at a blistering pace. Nothing can be more illustrative than the comparison between the claims of 9.2 per cent growth of the economy on the one hand and suicides of more than two lakh peasants on the other.


The ‘growing’ economy is killing peasants and their agri ‘culture’. Peasants are abandoning their pastures lured by the ‘magic’ of cities in search of some ‘greener pastures’ there. The ‘overwhelmed’ cities are neither offering them a decent employment nor a decent shelter. What we get to witness in these cities are skyscrapers for the rich and by their side the poor sky ‘gazers’ with nothing above their head. 


It is something of a misnomer to call their settlements as houses. Here they are forced to ‘sacrifice the best qualities of their human nature, to bring to pass all the marvels of civilisation’. And in the localities in which they live ‘the streets are generally unpaved, rough, dirty, filled with vegetable and animal refuse, without sewers or gutters, but supplied with foul, stagnant pools instead. Moreover, ventilation is impeded by the bad, confused method of building of the whole quarter, and since many human beings here live crowded into a small space, the atmosphere that prevails in these quarters may readily be imagined... Heaps of garbage and ashes lie in all directions, and the foul liquids emptied before the doors gather in stinking pools. Here live the poorest of the poor, the worst paid workers with thieves and the victims of prostitution indiscriminately huddled together, …and those who have not yet sunk in the whirlpool of moral ruin which surrounds them, sinking daily deeper, losing daily more and more of their power to resist the demoralising influence of want, filth, and evil surroundings’. 


‘Poverty often dwells in hidden alleys close to the palaces of the rich; but, in general, a separate territory has been assigned to it, where, removed from the sight of the happier classes, it may struggle along as it can’. 


All the above quotes are from ‘Conditions of Working Class in England 1845’ written by Engels but they are true to the situation of our towns and cities in 2006.


It is in this ‘separate territory’ and ‘hidden alleys’ that our Yamraj finds his favourite hunting ground. And these are really hidden for our policy makers, as this part of India does not ‘shine’. The inhuman conditions in which people are living in these localities might have made the ‘reformers’ with ‘human face’ conclude that only animals stay here. In their comprehension, their version of aam admi does not stay here! All the wailings of the UNDP reports on sanitation serve no purpose as long as the ‘economy grows’ showing the possibility of catching up with China. 


Pigs and animals do not kill human beings. It is poverty and the policies that do. For the ruling classes of our country led by the big bourgeoisie ‘nothing exists in this world, except for the sake of money, itself not excluded. It knows no bliss save that of rapid gain, no pain save that of losing gold. In the presence of this avarice and lust of gain, it is not possible for a single human sentiment or opinion to remain untainted’. So what if Yamraj is busy with his count of heads, our rajas will yell “And yet there is a great deal of money made here, good morning, sir.”