It is not uncommon for northeast Indians to feel alienated from the rest of India and the Meghalaya mine tragedy suggests that they are justified in feeling that way.
From December 13, 15 men have been trapped in an illegal mine in Meghalaya. It took the Indian government more than two weeks to respond to the crisis and so far, all they have been able to recover are three helmets.
Abhineet Mishra, a stand-up comic from Meghalaya, questions the lack of importance given by the Indian government and media to the tragedy in a show, which has no comedy, no jokes and no audience.
His questions are simple yet poignant. Talking to the Express, he asked, “Imagine a similar issue occurs in central India. How long would it take for the media to start covering it? A few hours at the most. But it took close to three weeks for the media to cover the mining tragedy in Meghalaya."
In a crisis situation, every minute counts. By showing indifference to the miners in the rat hole mine, and by not holding central agencies responsible, the Indian media has let down the miners and northeast India on the whole.
Abhineet asks, "Why were they busy covering and obsessing over Rahul Gandhi's wink at Narendra Modi and Tim Paine’s baby all this while?"
The government, on the other hand, did not do any better. When people were trapped in a mine in Thailand, divers from the UK came to the rescue because the Thai government requested them.
No such initiative was taken by the Indian government. Despite having equipment in our country that could scan even the bottom of mines, it hasn't been used yet, says Abhineet.
A few years ago, Prince, a five-year-old boy, fell into an abandoned borewell in Haryana. The media immediately picked it up and some channels ran live telecasts of the rescue mission and in less than 50 hours, the child was rescued alive. That shows the power the media has over government agencies.
In the stand-up video, he wonders what is the use of technology if it can help build statues 200 feet above the ground but does nothing to help save lives 300 feet below the ground. Are the government and media listening?