By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
It’s devastating news. My dear friend Ambarish Rai passed away in the morning today. His death is a big blow to all of us who have been associated with him or have known him for more than two decades. His death is an example of callousness and complete chaos in our health care system which is killing people. Ambarish ji was active and only admitted yesterday where the hospital said that he is a Covid Suspect. His Oxygen level was low and his friends and family took him to a hospital in Malviya Nagar where the hospital suggested that he is Covid suspect and needed to be taken to Covid Special hospital.
He was then brought to Ambedkar Hospital where the doctors wanted his Covid report which had not come in. He was suffering from breathing. According to friends, they requested the hospital staff to at least provide him Oxygen till the report came in. I think they provided him with Oxygen but it was too late. He passed away in the morning. Basically, it is an example of how hospitals are refusing the patients under various pretexts.
Ambarish ji’s death also reflects how helpless we all have become in the cities where we participate in all the social movements and speak about national issues. Big cities never really embrace people from outside. As long as you are ‘alive’ you are accepted, otherwise it does not care.
I can’t even imagine how his wife had dealt with this situation alone. Thanks to some dear friends who were associated and took him to the hospital. This is the crisis with all of us particularly at this moment. We feel absolutely outdated and alone in the city we worked so hard to raise people’s issues. Sometimes, it looks like the use of speaking so big when we have no support or back up. We risk our lives and at the end it is a painful story.
I knew Ambarish ji when he was living in Mau. We also worked on hunger and malnutrition issues in the late 1990s. He was a very dear friend, who would discuss and debate political issues and the crisis of secularism. For the past one and half decade, he was associated with Right to Education Forum but we were also associated with All India People’s Forum and there he would intervene powerfully.
Ambarish ji was basically a man of conviction and deep and pragmatic political understanding. He was a firebrand student leader and grew up in the left student unions very fast. He was well known and his concerns for the marginalised particularly landless people were well known.
I can only say that he was killed by the chaos and complete negligence of the system that we are witnessing today. These are not deaths but murders. As I say, when the power hungry leaders only bother about themselves and let the people die in such horrible conditions, then it is mass killings of innocent citizens.
India needs to wake up. We are living in terrible times when we can’t even meet and express our sorrows and pains.
I have no words to express. It is extremely painful. We can’t even go to his family and console. This is so depressing.
All through his life, Ambarish ji spoke of a strong public sector, more national resources for education and a health sector. His death has proved why the cronies want to kill the health sector and then blame the ‘system collapse’ to provide an alternative in the form of ‘privatising’ the health sector. An honest soul has been made a victim by the corrupted system. This needs to be exposed.
Goodbye Ambarish ji. You have gone too early when we all needed you. Your presence will be missed in our meetings and forums who respect rule of law and secularism as core values of our way of life. A big salute to your spirited work which will inspire our future generations.
*Human rights defender