Ostrich Syndrome!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Racial Attacks in Australia- Can we condemn?

The recent or rather the ongoing attacks on Indian students down under are a chilling reminder on the existence of a farce Australian society, far from the helm of civilization. What more could have we expected from the discovery of John Cook, whose men had slaughtered the local Aborigines to make the continent livable. The savagery of John Cook’s siblings has passed on, in good health, to future generations. But how justified are we as Indians to raise a hue and cry on these ghastly acts of prejudiced murder? Do we tow the same line when it comes to our equality records? How good are we, the brown men, in treating the brown and blacks amongst us? How fair are we, the citizens of a free and democratic country in giving justice to our own citizens? Do we fulfill the criteria to condemn these attacks? These are difficult questions with equally thorny answers.
We all know that the events of last week have been condemned by all including the Australian Prime Minister. Condemn? Murderers and racial thugs are not condemned, they have to be punished. Punished as a deterrent for their peer group. Punished to justify the cause of equality and also punished for justice to the victim.
But do we, Indians, practice all of this? Honestly not. Don’t we take the wrong sides in our strife against dalits? How many of us have condemned with equal veracity the killing of harijans in Haryana and UP in recent past? How many of us even know about the Khairlanji massacre? How many among us would be willing to eat on the same table with an untouchable? These inequalities are a common or rather a daily occurrence in our country. Our abhorrence of people of different faith, low caste and different races is incredible and phenomenal. We even believe and differentiate on the basis of color, may be with a vigor and hatred that would make an Australian blush. How many times have we seen the demand for a”beautiful, tall and fair” bride in matrimonial columns. Demand for a Fair bride, in a land which was once dominated by the Dravidans, the real inhabitants of India, those whose genes bore the blueprint from the blacks of Africa.
We live through these atrocities as if they are a natural consequence of race and creed. Unfortunately, our belief in inequalities of caste, creed and religion are so strong that we refuse to raise questions and protest. It is an abject submission to the power of inequality which is rampant in India. So how can we question the Australians on their equality record? What message are we trying to give to the world? Maybe, we demand justice for some but it doesn’t matter if we ourselves are the perpetrators of a similar crime.
My argument to bring the issue of our own record is not to lessen the measure of criminal misdoings of the white Australians. What more can we expect from a race which can even hijack and Europeanize the Christ? My point is that how can a society which is so deprived of justice and social equality raise a voice against the wrong doings of someone else with a fervor good enough to produce results? How can we point fingers when our own hands are red in the blood of egalitarianism? Contradictions in the Indian society are not new. We preach morality but rank highest amongst the most corrupt nations of the world. We preach Gandhism but stage pogroms to annihilate ethnic minorities (that too in the land of Gandhi!). We claim we have never attacked another country, but did we really had time to? We were busy attacking our own churches, our own dalits, our own adivasis, our own peasants, our own men, women and children in the name of caste, religion and race.
With hands across our hearts, we should ask, are we justified enough to question the barbarism in Australia? Isn’t it time to set our own house in order? Can we stand up and be counted so that we can make our case strong against the Australians. Inner strength gives outer courage. India can claim its share of International justice only if its executive, its police, its judiciary and most importantly its people are willing to propagate and inculcate national justice and social equality.

The Great Indian Medical Bazaar- Where are we heading?

It is around a year that the kidney scandal in Gurgaon was exposed, more by chance than with intent. It was a grim reminder of how a corrupt and a defunct social system can play in the hands of those who wait for every opportunity to milk the downtrodden and underprivileged sections of this great country. The scandal was an interplay of complex social factors which thrive on the blood of the “have nots”. The illegal kidney transplant scandal clearly showed that in a country with one billion people, human life and specifically human organs are up for sale. The scandal exposed the ugly face of poverty and misery which compel the not so willing donors to sell their vital organs for a price. Although it is a different issue that not all donors get what they were promised.
The scandal was more than a story of sinister gang of medically trained criminals out and about harvesting kidneys from unwitting donors. It is a matter of grave concern and debate that in the present day and era something of this magnitude was happening next to the capital, right under the noses of the elite and the powerful. It also reflects poorly on the health system of a nation which recorded all time high indices of market growth in the same year. Corporate hospitals and stories of their horror are not new for me. In each and every out-patient clinic I see at least two or three patients mis-treated, under-treated or over-treated in the biggest of the corporate hospitals of Delhi and its neighboring areas. It should be very clear in our minds that the corporate sector is meant to mint money and we cannot really blame the devil for being evil.
The need of the hour is introspection into the public health sector. Why have the people lost faith in our age old public health system? Why do people avoid going to a government hospital where treatment is supposed to be free? It’s high time that we find answers to these innocent but not so simple questions. The decay of Indian public health sector has been gradual but consistent. Lack of a health vision, lop sided health policies, irrational and unrealistic health goals and apathy of governmental machinery in allocating funds for the health have all added to the confusion which prevails in the Indian public health sector. Unfortunately we doctors are also to be blamed for this poor show. It is a common knowledge that a significant chunk of our young doctors go abroad to get ‘trained”. It is estimated that in every 20 doctors practicing medicine in the US, one is an Indian. Indians make up roughly 20 percent of the "International Medical Graduates" - or foreign-trained doctors - operating in the U.S. A training which allows them to live the rest of their lives in UK and USA criticizing Indian system and concluding that nothing can be done to save India and its people.
Gurgaon kidney scandal had exposed the ugly side of corporate health practice in this country. It is a slap on the faces of those who feel that privatization is the solution of all problems in this great nation. As if we have forgotten the Carbide experience, the Blue line experience or the privatization of health sector in its present form and shape. Having said this, it is also a reminder for the public health sector to set its own house in order.
It’s more than a year since the discovery of the Gurgaon Kidney racket. Things haven’t changed. Most of us, and importantly the people who decide health matters in this country, seem to have forgotten the story. Change was urgent and so was the need for stringent laws of organ trade. Health matters do not bring votes. The corporate world flourishes as new hospitals throng the landscape. The journey of the poor sick Indian continues. An urgent need for revamping the ailing health system of this land remains unfulfilled.