Saturday, December 17, 2011

Largesse of the Government

The deaths due to consumption of spurious liquor has crossed 170 and still some are battling against death. The government of West Bengal has announced an ex-gratia of 200,000 rupees for the bereaved families. On 9th Dec 2011 after the major fire in AMRI hospital in Kolkata too the government announced similar grant. I wonder from where does this money come from. I have no problem in giving out the money, but my question is from where is this kind of money being generated? Before we discuss this, the death toll in the hooch tragedy has gone well past the total deaths due to Cyclone Aila in 2009. Only 139 persons died in the aftermath of cyclone Aila; but this tragedy has killed more than 170 people. Should we call it a disaster?

Now, about the money. AMRI is a hospital for the rich, of the rich, and by the rich. I am not sure if some of these families whose loved ones died in the fire really require this 200,000 rupees that comes from the government. The other question is, if people die drinking spurious liquor, and their families get 200,000 rupees, will this event become a tipping point, and the situation escalate that the poor think that they can die drinking spurious liquor, and their families can get the money, and live happily ever after?!!! We are walking on a very fragile paradigm. Secondly, what is the source of money that the government is giving out? If it is money of the general public and that of the tax payers, I am against. it. If AMRI authorities are at fault, the government must realize the compensation from them. Let them take 500,000 rupees per each patient. No issues on that! Let them take over the entire land and the building, and pay for damages. That would be exemplary, honest in every way, and not impinging on the money for development. In the case of the hooch tragedy, the government must attach the properties of all those involved in production, sale and permitting such sale. I might sound harsh. But unless exemplary punishments burn a hole in the pockets of these people, it would not be an example. 

There is something called Law of Torts. This is hardly used in India, although it exists. It is simply the law relating to civil damages. The only civil damage cases we see are some big politician asking for money from media houses for a perceived damage to their supposedly good name. We must take this further. Civil damages must be compensated, but the damager, and not by people's money. For heaven's sake, will someone say this to the Chief Minister, please!

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