31 Sunday
January 2021
Dear Doctor friends, why are farmers protesting?

Many of my doctor friends have expressed an opinion on the farmer protests without meeting any farmers. Let me share what I have understood about the farm laws after spending 32 days with farmers, farm leaders and lawyers. This is for those who want to know both sides of the story, not hardline fanatic fans who don’t listen to logic. Please don’t bother trolling me. For those who want to know why the farmers are protesting, please read.

1. The constitutional provision provided to every Indian citizen to go to court for legal aid is missing in the farm laws. The maximum appeal can be to SDM and you know very well between the corporate vs farmers who the SDM will favour. This is a very big loophole in the Farm Laws.

2. The middleman or arthiya/APMC mandi act as a buffer to ensure funds are paid to farmers. Last month in Madhya Pradesh 2 businessmen collected grain produce worth 5 crore from 200 farmers and left them with cheques that bounced. The SDM said he has no idea what to do…and farmers have no where to go as the produce was collected from their farm, and no guarantee was made by any middleman. How will you safeguard farmers from such unscrupulous acts?

3. Contract farming allows the company to reject the produce grown if the specifications are not met. When the seed,fertilizer and pesticide is provided by company, how can farmer ensure a particular quality or shape of produce? A case like this has been on for several years between Pepsi (Lays) and farmers in Punjab for potatoes grown which did not meet the companies requirements. This act puts the farmers at the mercy of the companies receiving end with no redressal.

4. Almost 85% farmers in India have less than 2 acres of land, so the clause of opening the economy and allowing them to sell anywhere is ridiculous. Only big businesses need this clause.Funnily enough, after the Modi government passed these laws Haryana BJP government refused farmers from Rajasthan and Bihar to sell their produce within Haryana last month. So on the ground it’s not going to benefit the small farmer any which way.

5. The farmers have been demanding MSP and that should be given in writing that wherever the crop is sold it will not be less than the MSP. This is justified but not given in writing in the laws.

6. Removing the cap on storage of essential commodities will make large agro companies hold the public to ransom as the law clearly states that the government will only intervene in case of war or famine. Not in case of prices rising due to hoarding. This one clause will be a problem for every household in India. Probably not for the rich, but definitely for the middle and lower income groups.

Agriculture reforms have been needed for several decades but the only way they can be introduced is through dialogue not bullying and pushing laws down the throats of people most effected by them.

We in the medical fraternity are at the receiving end of similar laws that they are pushing allowing Indian Medicine to make rules for Modern medicine through the NMC. We fought tooth and nail but lost because this government is simply too arrogant to listen to reason. We are doing hunger strikes against Mixopathy but you and I both know the CCIM notification allowing Ayurveda Doctors to do 58 surgeries will not be taken back.

Aren’t you happy atleast one segment of Indians has dug it’s heels and said NO. Lot more effective than us medicos for sure.

Let us support them so that the government will get off their high horse and respect the opinions of people who’s lives are most effected by the laws they make and pass without dialogue and without due legal process in the Parliament.

I’m not going to argue with my respected medical fraternity colleagues but it’s always good to be aware of both points of view.

Warm regards
Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon Gurgaon

Medical camp at Singhu border

28 Thursday
January 2021
Got the Shot!

I got Covishield vaccine yesterday and I am perfectly comfortable today.

Let me start by admitting that I was very very hesitant to take the vaccine. I did not want to be a guinea pig and Indian politicians did not instill any confidence in the vaccination process unlike USA where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and took the vaccination like true leaders and lead from the front. I did not see our leaders take the vaccine.

Instead I read a minister’s statement assuring people not to worry about the side effects as we are not giving it to general public , we will give to health workers first. Such statements along with the hundred crore defamation case that Serum Institute did against the patient who developed transverse myelitis after covid vaccine in Chennai made me very under-confident about taking the vaccine.

23 people died in Norway and they have now announced that they will vaccinate people older than 75 years with caution. 9 healthworkers (aged between 26- 56 years) have died in India within 5 days of vaccination, and all the deaths have been declared “Not due to Vaccination”.Transparency in reporting adverse effects will definitely help build confidence in the vaccination process.

Covid vaccination drive started in Gurgaon on 21st. I got a call from the hospital on 25th and I carried my ID all day long.

I spoke with a lot of friends who had taken the vaccine and almost everyone developed fever, malaise and localised soreness.One of my friends developed high fever which subsided after taking paracetamol and another develop breathlessness and chest tightening,and oxygen saturation of 94% but she became alright the next day

I kept arguing with myself, discussed with family members and was pressurized by my college friends but I decided not to take the vaccine.

Yesterday morning I got a text message from Government saying that my vaccination was scheduled today. I then got a call from the civil surgeon office reminding me to take it before 2 o’clock. I decided to go ahead. The vaccination process was very smooth.They verified my ID, gave the shot, asked me to sit for 30 minutes after the shot. I had taken paracetamol 30 minutes before the shot and I took paracetamol again at night.

Despite my apprehensions I just had a slight bit of soreness in the left arm and I was able to attend clinic in the evening. It’s been 24 hours and I am absolutely normal and hope to be playing badminton tomorrow morning.

I am grateful to the Haryana government for organising the vaccination drive in such a smooth manner.

What tipped the scales towards taking the vaccine was the effort put in by scientists and doctors across the world in creating this vaccine in a record time. It was amazing to see the approvals coming so quickly and even though one is aware that billions of dollars are running on the vaccination program I can only tell you this,when you get a chance please take the vaccine.

I am very well aware of the privileged position we are in; there are millions of people wishing they were in our shoes.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon Gurgaon