The Appalling Indian Attitude

Every now and then India throws at you an experience that changes your perceptions of its people and places forever. For me this time around it was ugly. I live in the Delhi, the capital city of this country. I live in South Delhi- the posh part of the capital of this country. Now I am ashamed of where I live.It was eight thirty when I set out as usual to cross the Yusuf Sarai crossing that leads to Khel Gaon Marg for college. There is something troubling about this crossing. Automobiles rush past without a fraction of a pause, by the dozens, every second at top speed. The roads on either side stretch to AIIMS (arguably, India’s most busy hospital on any given day) to IIT (one of the most used roads in south Delhi that has an extremely busy flyover) and the airport. The troublesome bit is the absence of a red-light signal along the whole length of the two kilometer long road at any pedestrian crossing here. Consequently all pedestrian crossings are unofficial.

A request and a PIL for a red-light on this road, as I found out, has been pending in Delhi Courts for the last seven years. Its heartening that there is, at the very least, someone who took the initiative to demand one – the fact it got lost in the administrative inefficiency of the bureaucracy, is not, something that we have a right as Indians to be angry about. No its all in the game you see. Its part of being Indian. Hence I am ashamed.

So there I was crossing the road. I crossed the first half worrying about class, and how I am going to get yelled at for being late by a minute and a half by the teachers of my esteemed institution– till this happened. A young man, only about twenty five was talking rather animatedly in Tamil into his mobile phone. I am a Tamilian (ahem… half Tamilian) therefore this caught my attention. The young man stood with me at the crossing for a good ten minutes. We watched cars, bikes and buses zoom past, indifferent to the mass of humanity at the fringes of the roads. We grew impatient. More him than I, for I am now used to being subjected to this form of torture everyday.

The young man crossed. He ran across. All it took was a fraction of a second. I could’ve imagined it, but, I saw a bike actually speeding up as he ran across the road. The bike hit him. The young man was lying on the road. Blood was pouring out of what seemed like a huge yawning hole on his left temple. We all saw it. We watched shocked. A second later a bus slightly to the right of the young man decided it had to move. It did. It ran over him. Over his arm and the right side of his body. It then stopped later. It was a DTC.

I pushed myself through a huge swarm of people around the young man. He was lying there in a pool of his blood. He had fainted. I could hear him breathing. His legs were broken. I have never seen legs broken like that. The white faschia was spilling out from the joints. Both legs had broken in half exactly at the knee joints. The right side of his body was oddly flattened, his arm was twisted out of shape. Some thing white and fragmentary was jutting out from the elbow. It was his elbow. There was a lot of blood. Inches away from they wheel of the bus was his phone, the LCD smashed broken into pieces so small it was hard to believe.

I wanted to help. So I asked. Was anyone going to take him to hospital? Then I shut up, because I heard people talking about how much money they could make out of this. One man said no-one should move him, because if he died there then they all could make more money. I was bewildered. It was like I had got transported to someplace barbaric. To a place in the dark ages.

Then I said something. I called an auto- asked the driver if he would take me and the man to hospital. The auto driver thought… and thought and thought. Finally he demanded a hundred and fifty rupees, I didn’t have time to bargain. The distance was worth thirty. Amongst a lot of abuses, threats and such I managed to hoist the man into the auto. In the auto I searched his pockets to find a number I could call–only to find his pockets ripped off and empty. His money had been stolen. People had searched his pockets before I got there.

We reached hospital. At nine the trauma care centre was devoid of any patients. The man and lady at the reception made me wait for a half-hour while they completed some paper work, despite my protests. They then brought out a sheaf of papers. Asked me if I was a relative, because only then would they allow surgery. I called him Senthil and signed as his sister. They brought him in on a stretcher. Then they left him there in the lobby with me for forty-five minutes, I timed it. When I asked why they were taking so long– they said they had sent someone to stamp the papers and couldn’t begin till they arrived. At long last the took him into the OT.

I took an auto back to Yusuf Sarai. I had missed the first three classes of the day. There were two more to go. The crowd had largely disappeared. The bus, its driver, conductor, a couple of touts, the bike owner and a large beefy policeman stood in a small circle pointing to the blood stains. From a distance, I imagined that justice just might be on its way. I went up to the policeman saying I was an eyewitness and would be happy to give a statement.

He looked at me curiously. I looked at the bus driver and the bike owner holding two five hundred rupee notes each in their hands. The police man had already collected a thousand. He tore the complaint notice in half in front of me. I asked what he was doing. He told me not to worry. He said the matter had been resolved. The bus driver, conductor and policeman left for Chai together. The bike owner drove off nervously.

I stood there for a while. Feeling defeated. Tired. Angry. I then took an auto to go to college. I was on my way, when I got a call. It was someone from Safdarjung. Senthil had died. I turned my auto around and went back home. I cried.

I want to know what makes people so inhumane? What makes people not care? What makes people accept this? Is this how selfish we ought to be? Is this our great legacy? Would he have lived if I could’ve been fifteen minutes faster?

One thought on “The Appalling Indian Attitude

  1. This was real sad! And to know that someone’s life is worth just a few hundred rupees is worse. In developed countries, each humna life is considered precious. Sometimes I am embarrassed to call myself an Indian.

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