about 21 days ago
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This was very disturbing news. Apart from the pandemic and mosquito induced diseases, we learnt today that even if we just breathe, we could reduce our life expectancy.

As per the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report put out by the University of Chicago, India is the most polluted country in the world, with more than 480 million people or about 40% of its population living in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the north where pollution levels regularly exceed those found anywhere else in the world by an order of magnitude.

The report said that in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, an average person is now losing an additional 2.5 to 2.9 years of life expectancy.

In India and Pakistan, the number of vehicles on the road has increased about four-fold since the early. Crop burning, brick kilns, and other industrial activities have also contributed to rising particulates in the region.

We do have our very own National Clean Air Program, announced in 2019, which has set itself the lofty target of cutting particulate pollution by as much as 30% by 2024. We say, “lofty” because the pandemic has most certainly set back all targets.

The point here – the common man is affected by so many health issues. Today, living in Indian cities has become hazardous to health, which could cause debilitating and lifelong prevalent diseases. How can we ignore the epidemic of dengue? Really, is India becoming unhealthy to live in?

We are all living in a ticking time bomb – we do not know what could hit us from where. And the strangest part – the BJP and the Congress are both busy politicking – one is on a perennial self-congratulatory mode and the other is trying its best to continue making a fool of itself. For them, be it any party, it is only politics; so what if someone close to you succumbs to dengue/Covid or a child develops asthma just by breathing?

Why aren’t health issues ever taken seriously by any political leader? What is the point of everything we do if the teeming Indian population is largely sick? The “youngistan” that we keep tom-tomming about is growing up to become a large cesspool of diseases, undernourishment and poor immunity systems. 

Is this the quality of life that the young have to grow up with and the old to survive in? All efforts are made only and only for the health of the economy. But what about the health of every Indian? Why is health, which is affecting the day-to-day life of every Indian not a priority at all? Maybe that’s why this pandemic happened – to put health in the driving seat.

We have become a nation of mere sloganeering, candle-light vigils and making headlines. Inside, it all seems so hollow. The Swachh Bharat abhiyaan has become a mere photo-opp and let’s not even begin to talk about the public toilets which never have running water.

We have the same old debates on TV, the same editorials and the same lackadaisical responses from the Govt. Yet, we seem to be making no headway, no solutions are in place, simply put, no thoughts are given. Is this the kind of super power we are aiming to become – a sickly tiger?

Make India healthy and clean first and then dream about ‘Make in India.’

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