Wednesday, January 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Revamping health care system

THE news item “Chawla to revamp health care” (January 17) reveals the blueprint according to which the new Health Minister plans to tone up the health care services in the state. The department’s present performance has failed to come up to the people’s expectations. As such, efforts need to be put in to bring about a visible improvement in the working of the total health care system.

Invariably, the insufficient budgetary allocation has been given as the main cause for the deficiencies in health care services. It is, however, felt that there are areas which can be taken care of without any additional funds, a few of which are as under:

* Improvement and maintenance of general cleanliness in all institutions.

  * Absenteeism among the staff at all levels must be curbed and punctuality ensured. Senior officers from the state and the districts should undertake routine and surprise checks frequently in a sustained manner.

* The available funds should be utilised for procuring commonly used medicines and other kinds of necessary material only.

* All the professionally trained staff should undergo reorientation training in their respective fields periodically for updating their knowledge and skills.

* The determination of the Health Minister to wipe out corruption from the department appears to be a far-fetched idea simply because this malady has pervaded every sphere of life and no government department is free from it. Obviously, it cannot be tackled in isolation. At best, certain corrupt practices being indulged in by doctors and the paramedical staff in utter violation of their service rules can be dealt with sternly. Those of them who are defiant despite warnings should be made to quit.

* The management of emergencies must be prompt, specially the serious accident cases.

* There is a general feeling that most of the health care providers in the government-run hospitals are indifferent, apathetic and insensitive, and a few even outrightly arrogant in their behaviour. A sense of compassion and human touch is simply missing. A series of crash courses should be arranged to expose the entire staff to the art of public relations.

These small steps may act as a big leap towards toning up the health care delivery system without any extra financial burden.


Calendar: unwarranted remark

This has reference to the ongoing controversy over the use of the Nanakshahi or Bikrami Samvat calendar and an article, “Time to delink religion from calendars”, published in The Tribune dated January 20, 2000, on the same issue, authored by Dr Kharak Singh, at present the convener of the 11-member sub-committee appointed by the SGPC executive, the five Sikh high priests and the Dharam Parchar Committee recently at Akal Takht.

This writer is also in receipt of a copy of the “Abstracts of Sikh Studies”, Vol. II, Issue I, for January-March, 2000, edited by Dr Kharak Singh, wherein the editorial he has clearly advocated the merits of the Nanakshahi calendar.

With due regard to Dr Kharak Singh’s religious competence, it has to be pointed out that in his capacity as the convener, he had no right to pre-judge openly the entire issue, and go public on it, when actually he should have taken the majority view of his committee and then reported back his findings to those who had appointed the 11-member committee.

By going public in the “Abstracts of Sikh Studies”, Dr Kharak Singh has forfeited his right to remain as the convener, or legislate on behalf of the Sikh committee. Any decision taken at Akal Takht cannot be taken lightly by anyone, and all well-meaning people would understand that rushing through the calendar issue could have waited.

My purpose at the moment is not to debate on the pros and cons of the two calendars but to strongly suggest the following:

One, this is hardly the time for another self-perpetuated controversy when other matters of import have been long pending to be disposed of.

Two, a much larger cross-section of the Sikh sangat and the intelligentsia should be coopted to deliberate on the matter. Three, we must “hasten slowly” on such a matter as is bound to cause unnecessary dissension among the urban and rural strata in Punjab and outside.

Four, there is nothing very technical about understanding the background of or the rationale for the two calendars, and whether we really need the assistance of the so-called experts, to help us out in this case.




Ill-equipped airports

After having seen how ill-equipped our airports are, specially the one at Amritsar, to deal with hijacking incidents, one would like to ask the government why there was no arrangement to deal with such a situation on a war-footing at the airports in the border areas.

The ISI has spread its network throughout our country. Well-defended establishments of the Army and the CRPF in J&K are being attacked successfully by ISI-trained militants. Under the circumstances, all the airports should have been kept in a fighting condition 24 hours to deal with any eventuality, including hijacking. At Amritsar, which is a sensitive airport, such incidents had taken place in the past also. It is surprising why there was no arrangement to effectively deal with a hijacking situation.



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