Thursday, June 08, 2006

THE FIGHT CONTINUES.........

I am always of the opinion that we will never be a developed nation if we continue to ignore the poor and the farmer. Let alone in 2020 not even in 2050. A couple of months back on apr 10th, Sharad pawar (the union agriculture minister) was in hyderabad. The meeting that day was hyped up as it laid down a grand plan to alleviate the Farmer's suffering. The 35 districts where the farmer suicides were high were considered for a comprehensive package based on a six point formula. This package was to come into effect within 2 months. But there has been no talk of it off late. 2 months have passed and any slight hopes of getting this implemented during this Kharif season have vanished.

There is this hope of a good monsoon this year resulting in a good yield in KHARIF. But the callous nature of the govt has put an end to any kind of hope. The comprehensive package would have given the farmer that much more confidence and strength during tough times. The comprehensive package includes crop insurance,weather insurance,livestock insurance etc.
The farmer still finds it difficult to get a loan(forget the 7% interest). He has to go back to the money lender as he is denied loan by banks. Despite ostensibly strict instructions from the govt , Banks continue to deny new loans. The argument put forward is the credit history. Farmers never pay back the loans. From where will he pay back? He doesn't even have enough to eat twice a day. This brings me to the issue of loans. When there was this argument of farmers having a bad credit history, i was very curious to know the credit history of corporate business houses.

I filed an RTI petition with the Reserve bank of india (RBI) asking them the amount of debts related to corporate business houses (the seemingly sincere ones)written off by banks for 3 consecutive years.(2002-03,2003-04,2004-05). I was denied information initially saying that they dont maintain those records bankwise and corporate business wise etc. I had a heated argument with the PIO(public Information officer). He then asked me to file a fresh petition if i wanted a summary bank wise. This was totally unjustified. He did not furnish the information requested in the first place and then he asks me to file a fresh petition. I then appealed to the deputy Governor (Rakesh Mohan) of RBI who also is the appelate authority. There also the arguments continued and finally common sense prevailed. (which I consider a big victory)The PIO was directed by the deputy governor to provide the information i requested for. After almost 2 and a half months, i received the information today. You will be surprised to know the credit history of the so called honest and sincere corporates.

In 2002-03, Banks (nationalised,private etc) wrote off 11,619.70 crore rupees of loans of corporate business houses.
In 2003-04, Banks (nationalised,private etc) wrote off 13,489.56 crore rupees of loans of corporate business houses.
In 2004-05, Banks (nationalised,private etc) wrote off 10,876.74 crore rupees of loans of corporate business houses.

Just have a look at the figures and decide for yourself. when it comes to the rich and powerful, every rule is flouted and you are not even bothered to write off loans worth thousands of crores.
All the proposals, packages meant for the rich and powerful get approved overnight. Banks stand in queues to offer loans at throw away interest rates. Bureaucrats work overnight to complete their work. You could have implemented so many developmental schemes with the money written off.

But when it comes to the poor and the farmer, the banks turn them away. Forget the 7 % interest rate, you dont even get a loan.

It is still the rich and powerful that rule this country and twist every rule in the book to their advantage. The poor and the farmer are ignored. Goverments can happily continue to do so at their own peril.
The day is not far away when there will be a revolution. The poor will raise their voice. All you rich and powerful, will be toppled from your castles.

Till such time THE FIGHT CONTINUES and I will be on the side of the poor as a part of their army……………………………….



Monday, June 05, 2006

COLLAPSING PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM--YOUTH---REALITY CHECK

We generally say that some things cannot be described, they can only be experienced like Sachin’s innings against pakistan in the 2003 worldcup, splendor of tajmahal etc. This is also true for the other category. Unfortunately I am not going to talk about the first category. I am going to describe the second category “Osmania General Hospital(OGH)”.

Last week was really hectic at BHUMI . We visited OGH a couple of times trying to prepare an operational plan for the sanitation drive on June 11th. In course of these visits, the dark truth about how public health system in INDIA is collapsing came to fore.

Individual stories of how poor ppl are suffering stuck us. As one of my friends put it,

~ an old man sleeping in his own excreta.
They didn't have enough attenders to pick him up and take him into the Hospital. No responsible ones anyway.
~ a boy, hardly 9 years old, covered in blood and whose leg had been cut through, by an electric saw or something. They didn't have enough cotton in the emergency wards.
~ the burns ward, with 18-19 year old girls. All dowry cases, apparently.
~ the unending beds filled with people who had bandaged limbs
~ the undisposed syringes, the dried blood.. all in the passage way.

And they go on………………..

But just how much of emotional pressure can your mind withstand? You will atleast get 10 such stories daily. Will you just think about them for a while and help them in your individual capacity in whichever way and leave?is this the solution? We have decided not to do that. We will change the system. We will not leave the hospital until we bring about a substantial change.

Is it that there is lack of good,committed individuals at OGH? No, not at all. There are wonderful doctors with lots of conviction living in the rotten system but still helping those under previleged. By any which way you look at it, it is still the biggest hospital in the world in terms of the average number of patients treated /day. There are hundreds that are coming out out of it cured. But why are we critical? The supposed to be largest and best hospital is today in tatters. Corruption is institutionalized. No infrastructure to meet the growing demand. Let alone the sophistaicated modern instuments, there is acute shortage of the basic things such as syringes,cotton,stretchers etc. But why is this so?

It is worth looking at some statistics :

1. India constitutes 16.5% of the world’s population where as its share in number of patients is 25%
2. Expenditure on health as a % of GDP is a shocking 0.9% where as even in the poorest country of the world(Nepal), it is around 5 %. In the pre - liberelisation era of the 80’s, this used to be around 1.5 %.
3. Out of the total expenditure that is incurred on health related problems, 80% comes from the people whereas 20% comes from the Govt. This scenario is exactly opposite in european countries where the Govt spends 80%. In a country where 60% are not in a position to even earn their daily living, you leave it on them to take care of their helath expenses. No wonder that the public health system is collapsing.
4. More than 90% of the villages never heard of anything known as health insurance.
5. for every lakh of ppl,you have only 59 doctors.
6. In OGH, where there is a requirement of 900 odd nurses, there are only 300 odd.

You proudly talk about the buoyant economy,markets,software industry and all those hi-fi stuff about which not even half the population is worried about.Of what use is your economic growth when poor ppl are dying due to lack of proper health care ? what do poor ppl have to do with your sensex crossing 12000 or FII’s investing billions of dollars? What do poor patients have to do with the pro-reservation or the anti reservation rallies? What do we have to do with offices of profit? What all we want is basic things just to live in bare subsistence levels. We are not demanding you to give us pizzas to eat ot capuccino’s to drink.....

As a country, we are failing miserably. Always mired in their own happy world of PVR,pizzahuts ,pubs etc the youth of today is not at all concerned barring a few.
I challenze all the medicos who were protesting against reservations ,tell me how many of you ever protested demanding better infrastructure, better facilities to poor ppl?
We (govt and ppl) have to set our priorities right. To better this situation, you need a suatianed and concerted effort from all those involved.

We at BHUMI understand all these things. We will show it to the world as to how you can revive the public health care system in INDIA. We will neither do hunger strikes, dance to the tunes of water cannons,nor go on TV shouting slogans. We have our own way of taking along all the parties involved. (detailed steps of how are we planning to go forward will be posted in due time)A small beginning to all this is the sanitation drive on June 11th. It may just cost you 3 hrs of your time if you take part in this.But, It will save poor lives and give them the confidence that we the youth (so called visionories of tomorrow)are with them and will go any distance to change the system.
There will be critics who might be arguing that will carrying a broom and cleaning bring about change in a rotten system? But all revolutions,all historic events started with the simple first steps.
After all Sachin’s 35th century in tests came only after he made the 1st test century.

If you belive we are doing something worthy, Please join us on june 11th for the sanitation drive. Visit http://www.bhumi.in/ and register yourself by mailing to ogh.bhumi@gmail.com

Last but not the least, everyday before you close your eyes think of one destitute you came across that day. May be this will change the mindset and apathy some ppl might n have towards the less previleged.May be this will trigger you. May this will bring about a change ………………

Oh! Paramatma………..help my countrymen awake………………