Archive for April, 2007

We Need A BIG Change—Health Care

This is going to be one sad post, as it is about sorry state of affairs in my country.

I was saddened when I first heard of this, I am feeling enraged when I write this. I do not want my post to be litany of complaints, I want to record my thoughts for the benefit of anyone who might care about these issues.

Believe me when I say all of these issues impact our lives. These issues concern every aspect of our citizenship, ranging from health care, religion, education, and law enforcement. I write this because I am aware we tend to give ourselves to a passive awakening, we do not rise unless calamity befalls on ourselves.

Let’s hear them all one by one.

Health care has always been most ignored aspect of life in India. Rural health has always been poor, so much that we have not been able to eradicate diseases like polio despite massive campaigns. Polio has been eradicated even in a third-world country like Somalia. Another killer disease in rural India is diarrhea. It feels strange even while reading this as this disease has a simple treatment—ORS solution. But statistics will tell you how poorly we fare.

However, this was not the reason why I started writing this post. It was the indefinite doctor’s strike at Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi that depressed me. Patients are being turned away from the hospital. Even the ones who require emergency treatment. Like five kids who got burnt due to cylinder leakage, a Pakistani heart patient, a Muslim woman who had a sever head injury, and innumerable others. They lose critical time while rushing to other hospitals. The lives of all such patients are at risk. God knows, how many may have actually d….

Before we jump to abuse the doctors—we must know their reason of strike. They were manhandled and hurt by the relatives and attendants of the patient who died while receiving treatment. It would also be unjust to blame unruly behavior of the anguished relatives and attendants for the strike. If I were one of those unfortunate who lost their kith and kin due to unavailability of the sufficient medical attention, I do not know what I might do.

And if I were the doctor who was being assaulted at the death of every such patient who died despite my best efforts, I would perhaps not keep such a job for the fear of my safety. One unfortunate day, public rage just might cost my life.

So why do the patients die? Lack of resources, less doctors, brittle needles, broken machines, emergency rooms without the facility of taking X-ray! Patients die while the doctors are attending other patients. Patients need to be transported to different wing for simplest of tests.

I ask, why we have such hospitals in the first place. It is not one such hospital that we have. We always see hordes of patients waiting, both indoor and out door. There is lack of hospital beds. And hospitals as Lok Nayak, they dupe both public and government. They are simply money-making institutions who don’t care a hoot about the health care. Why else a hospital would have such brittle needles that break while it is still in patient’s body! I am aghast.

Who gives permissions to open up such hospitals when they do not have adequate resources? Doesn’t any regulatory body audit the quality of infrastructure deployed?

After all, a billion lives depend on it.

Where do those grants go that finance minister announces each year in the budget? How much is the grant? How is it spent? Does anybody audit the balance sheet? Truthfully, I do not know the answers to these questions myself. But we should find out. Fast. I don’t want any of my near and dear ones to suffer in one of these hospitals.

Perhaps we should take a survey to check general health of all the hospitals of these kind. Only when we have all the facts and evidence, we can take other action such as file a PIL.

But we need to get our act together fast.

It’s quite late in night now. I will write about other aspects later. Next is religion. I will try to make it interesting matter-of-fact, I promise.

Cricketing Debates II

Another debate surrounding Indian cricket that did rounds in the television that plays in my bedroom every night was if Sachin Tendulkar was good enough to remain in Indian cricket team or not.

To be honest, I have admired Sachin Tendulkar ever since he debuted as Indian batsman at the age of 16. Since then I have celebrated his each of his 37 ODI centuries. I have basked in the glory of each triumph that Sachin’s performance has brought to Indian cricket team. I will gladly observe any superstition if it promises a century from Sachin. Such is my fervor for him. The feeling is same for the rest of billion Indians. Each of them looks up at Sachin with huge expectations and hopes.

It is certainly difficult to go out on cricketing crease in Sachin’s place, for each time more than billion hopes will be resting on your shoulders alone. If I were Sachin, my shoulders would be stooping with stress and pressure in no time. (Though they already do. 🙂 )

Statistics and unsurpassed records speak a lot about Sachin’s talent. However, this truth can not be ruled out that since his back problems, 33-year-old Sachin Tendulkar’s batting performances have not been consistent and exemplary. There is nothing ill and unnatural about it, considering even the best known technology and gadgets have failed at one point or other. Sachin is, after all, a human. So the debate, should he quit after all?


It all started with Imran Khan saying in an interview that Indians think Sachin to be as good as Sir Vivian Richards, which he is not. Sachin has never been a consistent match winner as Richards. Then came Ian Chappel, who is former Australian cricket captain and brother of our own ‘foreign’ coach, who said that Sachin is trying to ‘eke out a career out of past records.’ This was not only uncharitable, but also surprising considering this same guy had expressed faith in Sachin in a television interview to a new channel, perhaps CNN IBN before the onset of World Cup.

I am glad when contemporaries like Brian Lara and Glenn McGrath came out publicly in Sachin’s support. I agree with McGrath when he says that players like Lara and Tendulakar are class apart. They are the best person to decide when they should quit.

Perhaps Lara will quit ODI’s after the loss of his country in World Cup yesterday. So the host team is out of the tournament.

As for Sachin, stop causing unnecessary furor over his performance. A player of Sachin’s statur, who has contributed to the Indian cricket for 17 years, deserves a graceful exit. He is the one who should decide how long he should play. Not the so-called experts or critics nor cricket-crazy Indian fans.

What Do We Mean By Inflammatory?

It seems whenever I surf through news channels on television—the word ‘inflammatory’ keeps popping over and over again.

When the Indian cricket coach Greg Chappel is asked about poor performance at the World Cup. His response to media: That is an inflammatory question. I will not answer it. Perhaps the intent behind the question was. I am not sure, but I sure did hear Chappel calling several other questions inflammatory.

Few days later, BJP releases a CD during Election campaign in UP. I, like other headline viewer of the country, am not aware of the contents of that much talked about CD. All I know thanks to media that the CD was ‘inflammatory.’ The election Commission will have a hearing about the CD.

Thanks to 24 X 7 news channels, I have now heard this word so many times that my brain has immuned me to the sensitive perception of this word. I seemed to have forgotten the profound meaning of the word. As far as I am concerned, everything in the national news is ‘inflammatory.’

Exasperating Cricketing Debates

It is no secret that entire Indian subcontinent is obsessed with cricket. Cricket players are the richest in the country. It is also country where cricket fans commit suicide over the defeat of the country in cricket games.

After the ouster of India from the World Cup, media as always has initiated debates on various subject. Who will be the next captain? Is Dravid good? Should Sachin replace him? (Much as I like Sachin, I do not want him to don the mantle of the captain)

So who is the latest scapegoat of Indian debacle at World cup? They have lynched them all­­—entire World cup team including the twelfth man, the captain, and lastly the ‘foreign’ coach. Patriotic Indians are eager to make scapegoat out of Greg Chappel. I am no cricket expert, I do not know if Chappel was a good coach or a bad coach. But I can easily say that it’s not the coach who goes to play on the field. A coach can only instruct, teach, and strategize how team will play the game. But it is the players who need to perform on the field. I am baffled why the entire nation has failed to consider this before crying hoarse about the ‘ineptitude’ of the ‘foreign’ coach.

The uncharitable comments against this Aussie coach have been doing rounds of media for several past months. The ouster of non-performing Indian captain Sourav Ganguly from the national cricket team for about a year had enraged many Indian fans, especially Bengali fans. The blame for Ganguly’s ouster landed squarely on the coach, thanks to email leaks to media. Since then there have been several other leaks to the media that I am no longer sure if these ‘leaks’ from Chappel and others are actually leaks or intentional implants in media. However, I am sure on one thing, that the coach had a vision for Indian cricket that did not come true due to several reasons.

Greg Chappel comes from a country that has a solid cricketing system in place. Perhaps his working style was too unconventional for the Indian mindset, I am sure there are some recommendations from the coach that can be considered and implemented. More than debating if Greg Chappel is a villain or victim, I would rather want cricket board and the selectors to sit up and rethink the Indian cricketing structure.

Perhaps deep down in my heart, I am glad this Chappel-Indian cricketers conflict brought this rethink opportunity to India. I am glad India was out of cricket World Cup in the first round, or we would never have considered the need to revamp the process.

But I am scared at this niggling thought that was born after witnessing nationwide fury against Chappel—Are we furious that our cricket team did not perform well at World Cup or Are we secretly becoming slightly xenophobic?

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Visceral Observations is written by Poonam Sharma. It is licensed to her under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
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April 2007