What after all, is life all about? It is about choices that we make moment to moment. We choose the
clothes we wear, the transportation from home to any other place, the route to take, the food to eat
and everything in between. If we expand that canvas, it is about career choices, future prospects and
long term goals that we plan for today.
But what if circumstances cut down your luxury of choice to just two in a matter of minutes or even
seconds- to die by fire or to die by fall? That is what happened very recently in the fire that engulfed
a coaching centre in Gujarat's Surat, killing at least 22 people. Young students with dreams,
aspirations and everything to live for. Those visuals of young students leaping off windows like
leaves in the fall season. Those screams and wails that rent the air. The very thought sends chills up
our spine whenever we remember that cursed day.
We know that the coaching centre, the building and everything associated with that structure was
illegal and in breach of building and safety laws. A few people in fact, conspired to ensure that those
students, who, for no fault of theirs, were left with just the two modes of death for choice when the
fire happened. Is that unfair? Damn right it is. And it would probably disgust us more when we
realize that those who actually did this would probably get off easy with a fine or a token jail time at
best or not even that. That is the sad story of many such cases in the past and will probably be so in
future too-unless you and I decide to act.
As responsible citizens and inhabitants of this planet, it is we who are responsible for its health and
well-being. As we know that climate change has forced the world to get into ‘clean air’ mode almost
overnight. Today, we all know about the transition from polluting fuels to solar, electric and hydro
the like. It is impossible to get so many nations with so many vested interests to fall in line. But they
did when they realized that the planet was under threat from climate change. They did because they
had to. They had no choice. But do you ever stop to think that why is it that the coin dropped only
when global scientists got together in Paris and made the announcement about the real and present
danger of climate change? I may refresh your memory here to also add that the scientists also said
that the desperate situation was not a natural thing but MAN MADE.
As the famous saying goes “A wise man learns from the mistakes of others while a fool learns from
his own”. So is it not time that we take lessons from this and prepare for the perils of tomorrow
After all what is required for us to ensure that our buildings, constructions, flats, offices, godowns
etc. are protected against fires or explosions or any such eventuality? It only requires us to firstly, be
aware of the laws of the land and ensure that we act in accordance-that’s all. Is that too much to
Today, we have a building code that tell us what are the fire safety norms and exigency rules that
govern us. If we just stick to following that we can ensure that a Surat like incident will never repeat
itself- at least in our vicinity under our watch. Is that too much to ask? You tell me.