There is an agitation going on in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Bus and train services have been hit for the last 20 days. My newspapers have not been delivered for the last five. Tonight I gave lift to a shop worker back home. After a day long work at a store, he was returning home for a quick bath and was planning to go to his next job, as a night watcher in some other place. In the last twenty days, he has spent more time commuting, has spent more money trying to get to work. If he does not report for work, he gets fired. And it is hunger that fires this daily grind and keeps him going as well.
Whether Telangana comes or not, here we have a government who unilaterally stopped trains, bus-service and every other avenue which the common man uses to work 12 to 14 hours and survive. In these troubled time, instead of stepping in to protect the right of millions of poor and those who survive in the borderlines of hunger, the government has stepped in as the lead tormentor.
Several rights guaranteed under the constitution are at stake. The Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees Protection Of Life And Personal Liberty:
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. Article 21 assures the right to live with human dignity, free from exploitation. The state is under a constitutional obligation to see that there is no violation of the fundamental right of any person, particularly when he belongs to the weaker section of the community and is unable to wage a legal battle against a strong and powerful opponent who is exploiting him. Both the Central Government and the State Government are therefore bound to ensure observance of the various social welfare and labour laws enacted by Parliament for the purpose of securing to the workmen a life of basic human dignity in compliance with the directive principles of the state policy.
The sweep of the right to life, conferred by Article 21 is wide and far reaching. 'Life' means something more than mere animal existence. That is but one aspect of the right to life. An equally important facet of that right is the right to livelihood because, no person can live without the means of living, that is, the means of livelihood. If the right to livelihood is not treated as a part of the constitutional right to life, the easiest way of depriving a person of his right to life would be to deprive him of his means of livelihood to the point of abrogation. Such deprivation would not only denude the life of its effective content and meaningfulness but it would make life impossible to live. There is thus a close nexus between life and the means of livelihood and as such that, which alone makes it possible to live, leave aside what makes life livable, must be deemed to be an integral component of the right of life.
This government, the so called government of the poor, in its cowardice and callousness, have turned into the primary exploiter of the poor. Some day, the poor and the destitute will stop caring for this struggle, stop believing in a future that could be. Someday, they will turn against you. They will turn against the courts that have turned a blind eye, and turn against the politicians for all this politics on the poor. Lords and Ladies, when this happens, where will you run to.