For the fans of cricket, a score of 50 is an achievement, be it in any format of the game.The batsman raises the bat and it is followed by cheers from the spectators inside the stadium and also those who are glued to the television. The statisticians also find themselves occupied with the record.
But the score of 50 for the Government of Odisha, led by the BJD, is by no means a matter of pride, rather it is a matter of shame. There is no batsman and there is no cricket match. The score, unfortunately, relates to the number of deaths of infants caused by Japanese Encephalitis in the district of Malkangiri. Of course, deaths have also been reported from Brahmagiri constituency in Puri district shortly after the tour of the Chief Minister of Odisha.
Malkangiri is one of the most underdeveloped districts in the state of Odisha. The district continues to be neglected by the rulers. The situation has not changed by much since the time the district was mentioned by P Sainath in his magnum opus ‘Everybody Loves A Good Drought’.
Usually, the Government of Odisha is in the habit of blaming the Union Government or some neighbouring state for its troubles and travails. The Chief Minister responds by reading a prepared statement and his party colleagues take the cue and carry it forward. The Chief Minister also has the habit of dashing off letters to the Union Government on any issue.
Sometimes, a party worker or even a Minister comes up with truly great arguments that can only be generated by politicians.When children belonging to the Juang tribe were dying of hunger and malnutrition, the Minister for Child Welfare claimed that the welfare measures of the state government could not reach the tribals since they lived on the hills ! She stated that the tribals would be encouraged to settle at alternative places.
Japanese Encephalitis is a disease spread through mosquito bites. Pigs act as the reservoirs of the deadly germ.
As always, the officials of the Government denied the initial reports. Then the monsoon was blamed for the spread of the disease. The good rainfall led to the stagnation of water and that resulted in the growth of the mosquito population.
Now, it is the turn of the pigs to take the blame.
in the aftermath of the reports of farmer suicides from different parts of Odisha, the Government claimed that most of the suicides resulted from matters not relating to agriculture or poverty. In many cases, suicides were attributed to ‘family troubles’ or ‘love matters’. Even a farmer who was nearly 80 years old also committed suicide due to ‘love failure’! Now in Malkangiri since infants are involved, no such reasons can be advanced, much to the chagrin of the rulers.
The Government distributed medicated mosquito nets with great fanfare. Those nets have not helped the poor people of Malkangiri.
The Government promises to start the vaccination against the disease from the month of December even as the doctors claim that there is no ‘treatment’ for the disease.
To paraphrase Bob Dylan,
“How many more have to die
Before they are counted as people”
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