The arithmetical value of life and death
Can life and death be given an arithmetical value?It would seem so. The collapse of a highway bridge near Genoa in Italy has made international headlines. Twenty lives were reportedly lost
.At almost the same time, landslides caused by heavy rains led to a loss of 16 lives in Himachal. In Kerala, floods caused widespread devastation.
But the collapse of the Italian bridge pushed these news to the sidelines.
The reason? Unlike India – which for all our claims of being the fastest growing major economy in the world remains an underdeveloped country — Italy, like all of western Europe, is an economically and technologically developed nation, where such accidents are rare. Moreover, its population is a fraction of India’s 1.3 billion population.
This is where the arithmetical value of life and death comes in. The value of an individual life, or death, is in inverse proportion to the size of the national population.
The larger a country’s population, the smaller the value of life.
In a hugely populated country like India, death becomes a matter of routine reportage. Buses fall into ravines, trains crash or get derailed, overcrowded boats sink in rivers, and disease epidemics take their toll.
Such occurrences barely merit headlines here; they certainly don’t make for global news.
The arithmetical value of life and death are very different in different countries, with India coming very low in such an assessment.
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