As many readers are probably aware, a few days ago, somewhere near Kurukshetra in the Indian state of Haryana, a three year old son of a labourer was playing with some other children. Somehow, he slipped and fell into a dark hole in the ground that was about 50 feet deep. Evidently, a contractor had the hole dug in the hope of finding water, but when none was found, abandoned it.
Anyway, as the news of the child having fallen into the dry well spread, there was plenty of brouhaha around. The police and the fire-brigade could not do the needful, so the army had to be called in and the brave soldiers got the boy out. Well, I can not say they got him out in no time, but get him out they did. In all, the little one stayed inside the hole for about 50 hours. In fact, he had to celebrate his fourth birthday underground, with the chocolates that were lowered down to him with a rope.
All these events received extensive media coverage, especially over the electronic media. A closed circuit television camera was lowered to where the child was and the images it captured were aired into homes all over the country through numerous television news channels.
Some people even organised prayer meetings, in several parts of the country, for the boy's well being and some of these duly found their way to prime-time television.
I wonder if any of this had a bearing on the facts that the chief minister of Haryana state was present at the site for almost the entire final day of the boy's ordeal and that the Major-General, among the army units commanded by whom was the one the soldiers of which pulled the little boy out, was also present when the boy was actually brought out of the well and he held the boy in his arms long enough for the cameras to take pictures.
The honourable chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs.2,00,000/- (Rupees Two Lakh) for the boy and the Zee TV network offered to pay for the boy's school as well as college education.
Now, this is obviously good for Prince (for that is the boy's nick-name) and might help to secure his and his family's future to a certain extent. However, I suspect there are many people in this country who would readily throw their children into dry wells, provided the government promises the same kind of compensation amount and some benevolent television channel agrees to pay for the education of such children, for the parents often do not have any idea as to how they are going to manage to pay for their and their family's next meal.
In fact, I have been unemployed for the past four months and would gladly jump into a dry well if the army would pull me out and the government would give me two lakh rupees as compensation, even if the government decides to tax the compensation amount as it plans to do in the case of the Mumbai train bomb blast victims. I could do without the free education though, as I already have a post-graduate degree, and would be grateful if the television channel desirous of paying for it could just give me cash instead!
It is more than likely that many others among the hundereds of thousands of educated, unemployed youth in this country would choose to do the same, if given a chance.