30 Sunday
June 2019
Your doctor needs help.

When a soldier is killed in battle the whole nation mourns, When a rogue runs over a cop Everybody groans When a doctor is hit by a mob People give stories of how doctors are thieves.

There is a very real fear of violence amongst doctors today and many of them do not want their children to follow them into the profession. For many generations the best and brightest minds used to go into medicine and Indian doctors continue to do well in the US and UK because of their dedication, hard work and training.

But multiple factors ranging from inaction of the police in controlling violence against doctors and general apathy amongst lawmakers has turned practicing medicine in India a very high risk profession. Not because of multidrug resistant TB,open wounds of HIV or hepatitis B and C patients, but because every time a sick patient dies there is a very real danger of a mob attack in the hospital or nursing home.

No profession is perfect and doctors are part of the same fabric that makes the people of India. There are corrupt judges,corrupt bureaucrats, corrupt policemen and corrupt people in the armed forces; similarly there are also corrupt doctors.But to paint the doctor as a devil and hold him responsible for all the ills of Indian HealthCare is not acceptable and will not serve society in the long run.

Privatization of medical education and caste based reservations have been reducing the quality of students entering medical colleges over the years. Medicine admission should be on pure merit as the course is tough,skill is very important and one needs to apply knowledge learnt years back.Life and death decisions have to be made in a split second and one needs the best and brightest minds that are available, not ones who got in with 40% marks.

Indian healthcare is in a mess and the government provides healthcare to only about 40% of the people. India spends 1% of its budget on her people’s health, which is why most people need to visit a private doctor at their own cost. Private and insurance based health-care is raising the costs of healthcare and family illness is now a leading cause for loans among poor and lower middle class Indians. In such a scenario when a person has spent 10 to 15 lakh rupees for the treatment of a loved one they expect them to survive, but since God has not created humans to be immortal, people die. This anger,frustration, lack of knowledge and communication, and a general mistrust in the community all end up as vicious physical attacks on Doctors.

Sick patients will either keep getting referred to higher centres or die in transit as more doctors will be unwilling to take the risk of trying to save a sick life, in the hope of saving their own.

Mob violence is not acceptable in any civilized society and I hope and pray that the government will make preventing violence on doctors a priority and take necessary action so that doctors can work fearlessly and try to save as many lives as possible. I also hope the government will invest more in healthcare, taking the pressure off private practitioners and provide basic and tertiary care to the people of India.

Today is Doctor’s Day. Please take a minute to remember a moment when a doctor helped you get better. That’s all I ask.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon

22 Saturday
June 2019
The reason why.

ver since 23rd May there has been endless debate about the results. I have been trying to wrap my head around the enormity of the victory. So many thoughts come to mind, the unprecedented coverage by media, the amount of money spent on social media, print and advertising in every form of mass media… In the end there was Modi-Modi everywhere.

In 2014, there was a massive Modi wave, there was hope, there was the promise of achey din and 282 seats won by the BJP, the vote percentage being about 31%. Come 2019 there was no wave,we knew achey din were not coming, we had been through demonetisation and GST implementation and yet BJP won 38% vote share and 303 seats.

My understanding is that people voted for the PM, not for their MPs. It was a presidential form of election,in many places people could care less who was standing from their constituency, only that they were voting for Modi.

I used to think that the time between 2014-2019 was not helpful to farmers as the agragarian crisis continued, the number of farmer suicides did not stop but since the data was not released, no one knew how many farmers really died.

The armed forces remained in news sometimes for poor food quality, assaults by stone pelters, frequent skirmishes on the borders, and the terrible Pulwama attack. No enquiry made public on how such a failure of intelligence occurred.But the 7th pay commission implementation helped.

There was the huge demonetisation debacle where more than 100 people died, black money was not unearthed, terrorist attacks did not stop.Fake currency rackets have not reduced either. Banks got so much money back that they reduced rates of interest. Amount of money in circulation has tripled since 8th November 2016. No one took responsibility for the poor execution of “notebandi” and daily changes in rules and regulations.4 lakh people lost their jobs, innumerable SMEs shut down.In the end , the country spent crores of rupees printing new currency and certain people made a windfall in changing notes, with no other outcome to show for it, than wallets now filled with multicolor notes.

Environmental degradation has continued whether it was the plunder of the Yamuna plains for a private function or PLPA amendment set to open commercialization of 60,000 acres in the Aravallis. The forest ministry has approved 99% of all permissions applied for in the past 5 years, and the air quality in most of India along with water tables has reduced drastically.

Still BJP won 303 seats. The spectre of a khichdi government so scared the voting populace that they clearly chose to have a stable government than one where leaders are fighting each other over seats, portfolios, corruption cases and doing agitations.

That is the takeaway point for me…the opposition has to grow, evolve,mature and become a homogeneous body of leaders before people can show trust in them.The agenda has to be governance, there has to be a clear leader, defined roles for various people to work as a team: just the idea of defeating Modi doesn’t appeal to most people.

Change is the only constant, and one has to keep evolving to remain relevant. Rahul Gandhi has chosen to step down as Congress President, let’s hope the Congress can reinvent themselves or the grand old party of India will perish into oblivion.

Hopefully the next 5 years will see pro-people governance, pro-environment action to reduce climate change, more transparency in statistics, responsibility being placed on public servants to deliver what is expected of them. For the common Indian,it doesn’t matter who is in power as long as they keep working for the best interests of one category:

“We- the people of India”

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon