Horror of horrors! A news item appearing in Indian newspapers mentioned that the blankets offered by the Indian Railways to its passengers for their overnight journeys were washed only once in two months! Which meant, realized horrified passengers that they had slept in the sweat and dirt of sixty other passengers, before the blankets went for their bi-monthly cleaning!

But that’s not all!

How did the railways react? Did the minister in charge or the general managers put their heads down in shame?

No, they didn’t! They’ve decided to punish the people for refusing to sleep in those filthy blankets.

“No more blankets!” they cried in unison, and have decided to stop offering blankets to passengers.

Many years ago, I wrote a play about a man caught in a lift. Different people came upto the shut doors and offered different pieces of advice to the poor man inside. Some told him not to panic, some made him sing religious songs, some even told him to breathe slowly so as to not use up all the air in the lift.

Suddenly everybody was quiet and the man inside, realized somebody important had come.

“Sir, I am stuck inside!” he shouted, “Help me!”

A minister had arrived. He looked around, saw he had an audience and declared, “From today all lifts are banned!”

This is how we address problems.

Instead of finding solutions to let the man out, to see that lifts don’t stop midway, the lift was banned and people trudged up the stairs as much as they will now have to spend cold nights on trains, because the railways were caught with unwashed blankets.

In the last two years, banning has become a popular pastime in India and also the rest of the world.

Instead of going after those hoarding black money, the very notes were banned, causing immense disruption to the economy which went into a nosedive.

Trump, instead of fighting terrorists, blocks whole nations from entering his country.

Banning was a medieval method of threatening people. If one villager rebelled, the whole village was punished. This primitive method seems to be gaining momentum.

“Why did you reveal that the blankets were not being washed?” asks the traveler to the agency which had revealed such.

“So that blankets would be washed, and you would know the source of the skin rash you get after each journey!”

“But now we have no blankets!”

And instead of rallying against those who ban, against those who are responsible for the problem, we cry in ager at those who reveal the truth, at those who get caught in the lift.

“Help!” cries the man in the lift, his voice becoming weaker.

“You stupid man, because of you we have to use the stairs!” cry the people as they plod up and down the stairs, cursing the man who they feel has made them suffer this discomfort..!

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