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A Ministry for Loneliness

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A Ministry for Loneliness
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Now that the UK has appointed the country’s first ever ‘Minister for Loneliness’, I am certain the political lot here will be thinking in terms of setting up a ministry along the same pattern. We are good at aping the West. We are also great at dragging along suitable changes to suit interests. It wouldn’t be amiss to point out that just in case a ‘Ministry for the Lonely’ is set up here, it would be grabbed by the chosen top lot.

Needless to add, it will be used by the political characters – each one of them proclaiming that though they are well- equipped with husbands and wives and children and grandchildren, yet they are all alone up there!

Here, don’t we have ministries for the minorities, for women and children, for the supposed welfare of all possible sections, but look at the absolutely dismal and deteriorating conditions! Look around and the scenario seems frightful…yes, loneliness is a definite truth for a large majority of Indians but it gets compounded seeing the rising crime graphs. Everyday, criminals are getting let loose in our midst by the very establishment, not just unofficially but even officially. Haven’t you heard the latest coming from the state of Uttar Pradesh - Yogi Adityanath’s government seems to be planning withdrawal of nine criminal cases pending in a court in Muzaffarnagar against the BJP men who were booked around the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013. The cases were filed against U.P. Minister Suresh Rana, former Union Minister Sanjiv Balyan, Bijnor MP Bhartendu Singh, Budhana MLA Umesh Malik and party leader Sadhvi Prachi.

Latest news reports state that Yogi Adityanath’s government has sought information and opinion from the district magistrate and also the superintendent of police of Muzaffarnagar, on the possibility of withdrawing nine cases against the accused BJP men. To quote from one of the news reports – “In the January 5 letter to the district magistrate, Uttar Pradesh Department of Justice Special Secretary Raj Singh has sought information on 13 points, including whether the cases could be withdrawn in public interest. The letter also sought the opinion of the Senior Superintendent of Police …Though the leaders have not been named in the letter, the file numbers pertaining to the cases against them have been mentioned in it.”

This blatant step, when the accused are facing charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for violating prohibitory orders, deterring public servants from discharging their duties and wrongful restraint! Also the vital fact, these accused had participated in a “mahapanchayat” and incited violence through their speeches in the last week of August 2013. The communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in August and September 2013 had claimed more than 60 lives while over 40,000 people were displaced. In the two riot cases, 22 activists, including Mr. Rana, are facing trial in which a special investigation team (SIT) has filed charge sheets.

Needless for me to dwell on the offshoots this move will lead to. Disaster for the democratic setup! Hate – speech givers and rioters not sitting imprisoned but walking free, to make preparations for another round of rioting and killings!

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Getting back to loneliness. It’s a reality in India. More and more are sitting lonely in today’s ruthless scenario. Mind you, it’s not just the top socialites or those from the creamy layers, but also refuge –seekers and migrants and, of course, the elderly!

We aren’t even aware of the exact figures of the lonely in India but they could be absolutely high, with a vast majority amongst us quipping rather too blatantly and honestly – hey, who isn’t lonely!

We in India haven’t even bothered to put together the exact data and details but the UK government collected the backgrounders before appointing Tracey Crouch as the country’s first ever Minister for Loneliness. And going by published details from a study focusing on the UK’s lonely, these are some of the findings – more than 90 lakh people out of a population of 6.56 crore said they are always or often lonely. The elderly and disabled, 17-25-year-olds, migrants and refugees are more than affected and vulnerable to feeling lonely and secluded in the UK.

Here, in our country, perhaps the loneliest would be those dumped in jails. We don’t know what’s been happening behind those high walls or in those prison hell-holes. We aren’t aware of the disasters taking place in there…we can’t hear their cries!

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