Video Producer: Mayank Chawla
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman, Rahul Sanpui
Yeh Jo India Hai Na, a lot happened here in 2021. Some, that was heartbreaking – stories of loss, of human tragedy. Then there was the shocking, and the absurd, events that left us angry as well. But there are three images that, to me, truly sum up 2021. A year that we may not be very proud of, when we look back on it.
Image of an SUV plowing through a group of unsuspecting farmers protesting peacefully at Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh.
Viral videos of speaker after speaker at Haridwar’s ‘Hate Sansad’ openly calling for the killing of Muslims in India.
Images of 15-20 bodies being cremated at a time, at a ‘shamshan ghat’ in East Delhi, and images of hundreds of bodies found in shallow graves on the banks of the Ganga, at the peak of COVID-19’s deadly second wave.
There is a common thread running through these images that sum up 2021 - life is cheap.
First, Lakhimpur Kheri. What’s the thinking of someone who simply plows into a group of protestors with an SUV, like they were pins in a bowling alley? It doesn’t matter whether Union Minister Ajay Mishra, or his son Ashish were involved in this directly or indirectly, does it?
The fact is that, for whoever gave the orders, the lives of those protesting farmers had no value. And if the farmers’ lives mattered little, obviously their 12 month long protest, mattered less. And that tells us why the government allowed 12 months to go by, allowed over 600 lives to be lost in the farmer protests, before the spectre of electoral defeat finally punctured its arrogance, forcing it to back down.
Next, Haridwar. How can someone stand up in public and call for the killing of millions of fellow Indians, and get away with it?
We had a ‘Hate Olympiad’ at Haridwar and the ‘Oath of Hate’ in Delhi, the ‘Abuse of Gandhi’ in Raipur, each crying out for the police, the local administration, and the judiciary to act.
Instead, what happened? NOTHING! Why? The same answer again - life is cheap. For these haters, and for those in power shielding them, the lives of crores of India’s minorities, living in every corner of the nation, have little or no value.
And finally, COVID-19’s deadly second wave. Bodies lined up awaiting cremation, bodies being cremated on street pavements, families struggling to find beds in hospitals, losing their loved ones inside auto-rickshaws, people buying remdesivir and oxygen cylinders in ‘black’, thousands dying every day at the peak of the wave.
Everyone has clear memories of the frantic searches for oxygen, hospitals that had no oxygen, patients gasping for breath on hospital floors, family members crying out in desperation and YET, not much later, came the government’s startling claim that NOBODY died of oxygen shortage during the second wave.
Yes, Yeh Jo India Hai Na, here, life was cheap, in 2021. We can only hope that 2022 may be better.