**Bhubaneswar: ** “Carrying on Shoulders” to give ‘dignity to the dead’ has become the new trend in Odisha, and Dana Majhi has become a trend-setter. The windfall of treasure showered on Majhi has triggered a new vogue.
It seems that after the Dana Majhi incident, people have forgotten the traditional methods they used to follow in such situations. They used to carry the sick and pregnant on traditional mode of conveyance such as charpoys (cots) and tokris (bamboo baskets).
But post Dana Majhi incident, the trend in several cases have changed. It seems the ‘shoulders’ have become the main mode of conveyance to transport the sick, pregnant and dead.
A visual flashed in a Odia news channel showed three men carrying a dead woman’s body on their shoulders a day back.
Few days back, a man carried his pregnant wife on his shoulder for about one kilometre to a pick-up point from where she was ferried to the nearest Community Health Centre (CHC) in Rayagada.
In a similar incident of the same district, a pregnant woman died after being carried on the shoulder to the village health centre on the shoulder by her husband for three kilometers. Failing to arrange for an ambulance, the man walked the entire distance to the medical centre with the wife writhing in pain. She was declared brought dead.
Following his wife’s death, the man staged a demonstration outside the district collector’s office by placing the dead body in front of the office and removed it only after a compensation of Rs 10,000 was paid by the Collector.
In yet another incident, a tribal man of Gajapati district walked about 2 kms carrying his pregnant wife on his shoulder due to lack of road connectivity to the village. The woman lost her life after delivering a baby on the way to the hospital.
Lack of proper and trained medical staff, unsecured boundary walls, rickety indoor departments with dilapidated and inadequate beds and leaky roofs are common sights, even in district hospitals of the interior pockets of Odisha. Similarly, people carrying the dead on bamboo slings, cots, and bamboo baskets are commonly seen in that belt as some villages still do not have proper road connectivity.
But, the ‘shoulder business’ has started very recently. The conventional methods do not garner attention as it is a common sight in the interior pockets of Odisha. And the men who follow the ‘Dana Majhi trend’ seem to enjoy the limelight showered and hope for government’s aid, which otherwise remains elusive.
“People have resorted to such gimmicks as it assures media coverage and government aid. If some one is lucky enough, foreign aid is also on the cards,” taunted Rabindra Das, Bhubaneswar.
The media is more likely to pounce upon such incidents as it guarantees viewership. They try to make the incident larger than life hoping to get viral attention as the ‘Dana Majhi’ incident and increase their TRP.
The district authorities are at a loss of the course of action to be taken in such cases. After being highly criticised for its apathetic behaviour in the ‘Dana Majhi case’, they seem confused and are unable to distinguish the genuine cases, but nevertheless attend to each and every such case, as it has a direct connection with the public sentiments.
“It is not a healthy precedent. The people tend to put the lives of their loved ones at stake by following this practice. Who is to blame for the deaths occurred after such acts? questions Manabhanjan Panda of the smart city.
Earlier, the local media had covered people carrying their sick ones on bamboo cots, on slings tied to a pole, in bamboo baskets, but these did not interest the national and international media. No windfall of aids and grants followed.
“Why have people resorted to shouldering their pregnant wives or dead ones all of a sudden. It can’t be that they have started showering their love as husband all of a sudden? retorted Susanta Kar of capital city.
In those parts of the State, the various schemes rendered by the government seldom reach to them on time, and the people have become accustomed to the apathetic situation of the Government.
The ruling party may boast of the many schemes it has launched and the amount of money it spends on the betterment of those people, but it is stark reality that in spite of 70 years of completion of independence and fourth term of the ruling BJD party, the situation remains more or less the same.
Dana Majhi’s act was spontaneous and it showed the grit and courage of a person to fulfill his wife’s last wish, but he has set a trend unintentionally, and ‘shoulders’ have become a profitable mode of transport.
Amidst all these chaos and allegations, the ‘shoulder business’ has put the district administration in dilemma.