Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Beware of Fifth Columnists !

Beware of Fifth Columnists (Mir Zafars, Jai Chands)!

We are witnessing verbal gymnastics in full swing in the JNU campus as elsewhere. While observing different point of views of various outfits, one is concerned over the attempts of some outfits to ‘mis-diagnose’ the reasons of ill-health and health inequality in India. Why no one has raised this issue so far?

The propaganda, while putting the blame on politicians, takes pain to glorify (a) the role of “western medicine and a status quoist profession of doctors”, (b) the charitable “medical camp approach” and (c) to self-perpetuate its own tribe. Irrespective of the political ilk of these outfits, the fact that they are an outcome of promoters of corporate interest that legitimizes contract system for workers is revealing enough. These outfits end up supporting the main beneficiaries (and exploiters) and ignore the mushrooming of exploitative clinics in cities at the cost of both the urban poor and the rural poor. Don’t we know who these collaborators are who end up supporting contract work regime?

The nexus between medical professionals and pharma companies is an established fact. What is worse is that both the urban poor and rural poor are being administered outdated, harmful, banned and spurious drugs. India remains one among the few third world countries that connives at the ongoing inhuman practice of guinea pig medical experiments on poor people for foreign firms. Do the outfits have remedy for this menace?

The damaging impact of these male dominated professionals on ill heath and health inequality in India is well documented in academic literature. There is a promise of working for Health for all. While the promise of universal health care is worth struggling for, it gives a sense of déjà vu. Didn’t the National Health Policy, 1983 had this as its target? After failing to meet the target, instead of working towards overcoming the admitted failure, the National Health Policy 2002 changed the target. Is there any reason to believe that the outfits who make this promise will not do the same?

While the aim for 24 X 7 medical facilities is understandable, their use of medical facility as the route for achieving health for all is deceptive. Is “medical facility” and “health for all” one and the same?

Some of these outfits are glaringly one dimensional with their obsession with single issue. Far-reaching structural changes in the land-tenurial system and institutional reforms for the educational and economic upliftment of the weaker sections of society are required but these outfits have not even taken note of it. Is sloganeering sufficient to bring equality even as the country is getting infested with at least 36 billionaires whose combined wealth is one-fourth of India’s GDP? All contemplative minds must remain ever vigilant about the various shapes and sizes of the fifth columnists in the campus and even in their own outfits.

-public interest release
(Gopal Krishna, 47 Brahmaputra and M. Kumaran, 163 Tapti)

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