Follow Us:
Thursday, July 29, 2021

‘Those who died in second wave left behind living document of our failure’: RJD MP Professor Manoj Jha

Jha began his address with an apology to those who died in the second wave, but whose deaths were not even being acknowledged.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi |
Updated: July 22, 2021 9:47:55 pm
In Parliament: 5 QuestionsRJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha (File photo)

In an evocative speech in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, RJD MP Professor Manoj Jha said that those who lost their lives in the second wave of the pandemic have left behind a “living document of our failure”.

Arguing for a shift from the politics of numbers, Jha said that even the poorest in the country were taxpayers and a responsibility of a welfare state, and urged the government to work on the right to health and right to work, and “leave demography to the demographers”.

Jha began his address with an apology to those who died in the second wave, but whose deaths were not even being acknowledged. “This apology is not just from me… we should issue a collective apology from this House for those people whose bodies were floating in the Ganga,” Jha said.

The MP said that never before has an obituary of 50 people been read out between two sessions of Parliament. “Was this any age for Rajeev Satav to go from this world? Raghunath Mahapatra?… This pain is personal. I don’t want to talk about numbers. Mera aankda, tumhaara aankda. Apni peeda mein aankda dhoondiye (My number, your number. Search for numbers in your pain),” Jha said.

He said there is “not one person in this country, in this House” who can say they have not lost someone known to them. “People would call for oxygen. We could not arrange it. People think he is an MP, he will arrange oxygen. Of a hundred phone calls, in the evening we would sit and see. Success rate two, success rate three. Who will explain numbers to me? I don’t want to talk about numbers. The people that have gone have left behind a living document of our failure,” Jha said.

Attacking the government on advertisements that claim “free vaccines, free ration and free treatment”, Jha asked if India was a welfare state. “If one poor person in a village buys a bar of soap, he is a taxpayer as much as Ambani-Adani. You are telling him free? Nothing is free. He has a stake. There is a commitment of the welfare state. Don’t denigrate him, demonise him,” he said.

In a speech that saw near constant applause from the opposition benches, Jha said the government must look at laws that ensure a Right to Health and a Right to Work. “Why don’t we talk about Right to Health. No ifs, buts and maybes. The right to health, constitutionally guaranteed, should be linked to right to life. No hospital will have the gumption to play around with this. We don’t want to do it. Right to Work. There should be work on that. There is a lot of talk about population. Leave demography to demographers,” Jha said.

Terming the one and a half months of the second wave a “nightmare”, Jha said that not only the Centre but many state governments were helpless. “During that time, it was being said that governments didn’t fail, the system failed. What is this system? From childhood we have heard, there is a person behind the system. If the system has failed, whether in Delhi, or in the lanes of a village, then the governments have failed, don’t give it the name of a system. They make the system. There is a need for dignity in life. There is a greater need for dignity in death. We have witnessed undignified deaths. If we don’t fix this, future generations will not forgive us,” Jha said.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by