An Indian Civilizational Perspective

A Tragic Death at IIT Kanpur

I got this mail from a fellow-IRMAn. It again shows the extreme lack of humanity in us Indians. There are times when we feel bad – but then there are times when we feel utterly shameful of our identity. This is one of that moment after I read through this mail. When can we understand that the value of an individual is FAR more than the systems and bureaucracy we have built around us! I wonder how the people who were involved in this incident could sleep peacefully at night?

Students of IIT Kanpur were shocked to receive a mail on Monday
forwarded by the President of the Students’ Gymkhana. The mail is
attached below and a brief description of the later developments are
given after the mail.

This is to share an incident which reflects the state of affairs for the
disenfranchised in our Institute of excellence. I suspect this incident
could not be reported by anybody in authority in the Institute and hence
would not reach most of us. In this case too we got to know of it just
by chance, as would be evident from the account, which makes us believe
that occurrence of such incidents may not be a rarity after all, but
that is just not shared with the community. A similar incident happened
a month ago and the sequence of events are much similar. This account is
to inform the community of this incident, acknowledge a feeling of
collective shame that this could occur in an Institute which claims to
be the best, and hopefully to evoke some collective action to prevent
such occurrences in future. I am sure of the facts, as I got to know of
it from a first person account and yet would not name anybody to avoid
unnecessary personal vilification. This is the system and not the
individuals involved.

On Sunday morning at about 4.15 am one of the canteen owners of one of
the Halls was going back after work when he chanced upon a crowd of
migrant workers at the security crossing near the Motor
Transport/Air-Strip road. Apparently a boy, whose family had been
employed in the construction site of the Environment Engineering
building had been bitten by something poisonous (they were not sure
whether it was a scorpion or a snake), in his sleep. The workers
including the family consisting of the father a brother and a younger
sister (his mother is no longer alive) had come to the SIS (institute
security service) for help. The boy who was around 12-13 seemed to have
been bitten around 3 in the morning and was alive though unconscious.
The SIS guards (there were around 20-25 of them there) kept urging the
workers to take the boy to the city hospital but refused to extend any
help. The group of migrant workers did not know anything about the city,
and this is usual because they are brought from far of places like Malda
and Chhattisgarh by the contractor and are herded back at the end of
their term. The canteen owner requested the SIS to lend their jeep for
transporting the boy to the Health Center. The SIS guards refused to ask
for their jeep (though several of them had their walkie talkie) and
instead told this man that the boy would not be treated in the institute
Health Center and hence has to be taken to the city. At this point the
Canteen Owner decided to take the boy in his motorcycle, along with
another worker to hold the inert form, to the Health Center.

At the Health Center, the person at the desk refused to entertain the
case, when he came to know that the boy was not related to an Institute
employee and was neither a student. The canteen owner tried to impress
upon the person that the case was very serious and the boy may just
survive if only the hospital intervened and the formalities and the
expenses could be handled later. He also volunteered to get the health
card of his father who is an Institute employee, as treating guests is
routinely done in the HC. The attendant at the desk refused to comply
but conceded to give the phone number of the doctor on duty. He told the
canteen owner that he may call up the doctor to check if she would treat
the boy, but not to mention that he was calling from the HC, but tell
her that he was calling from one of the hostels.

The canteen owner called the doctor, who when she realized that it
involved the child of worker, was extremely annoyed and said that this
facility was not available to them. When the canteen owner pleaded that
the case was serious and may turn fatal she apparently shouted ‘which
language do you understand?’ and slammed the phone down. After that the
canteen owner decided to take the child to the city and requested the
hospital attendant to provide the services of the ambulance so that he
could be taken as soon as possible and anyway it is extremely difficult
to negotiate the GT road with an unconscious person. But he was refused
even that. The boy was still alive till that point.

The rest of the story in short – the canteen owner took the boy to a
nearby nursing home in Kalyanpur (about 2 kilometers from the institute)
but that setup was not equipped to handle snake bites. Then he drove
with the unconscious boy all the way to the Hallett (medical college) –
the doctor on duty was much more prompt and immediately attended to the
boy, but unfortunately he had already died. Then this canteen owner
drove all the way back to the campus with a dead child in the pillion.
As he ended his account ‘bilkul kuch achcha nahin lag raha hai tab se –
health centre hote hue ek chote se bachche ko marne de sakten hain –
kyun ki woh ek mazdoor ka bachcha hai sirf isiliye?’

Students have investigated the reported event and their representatives
are in possession of the names of all the people who are involved in
this incident. The students arranged a condolence meeting yesterday
evening and marched to the Health Center to demand an explanation from
the Chief Medical Officer. After a long standoff and hours of
deliberations with the authorities the CMO met the students but failed
to answer many of the questions students had about the issue. Students
are presently planning to get the whole campus community involved in the
protest. What saddens the entire student community and me is the
reluctance of the institute administration letting the entire campus
community know and the tax-payers know about the incident. The reasons
they give are beyond any sane argument. Witnessing a few incidents
during my stay at IIT Kanpur has led me into thinking that this time
too, the incident and related issues shall be buried to bask into what I
feel is vacuous feeling of glory. "

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3 Comments
  1. anonymous says

    People follow the ways of the ruler…which is an ancient proverb.
    today people at top do not respond or act the way they are expected to and also do not give any explanations and are not accountable…..It is not surprising to note such behaviours as every one is forced by fear ……

  2. anonymous says

    People follow the ways of the ruler…which is an ancient proverb.
    today people at top do not respond or act the way they are expected to and also do not give any explanations and are not accountable…..It is not surprising to note such behaviours as every one is forced by fear ……

  3. Walt says

    Hi there, I dont know if I am writing in a proper board but I have got a problem with activation, link i receive in email is not working… http://drishtikone.com/?8e552009c5b69270e87836c678e,

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