Tuesday, October 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Saviours or killers?

YOUR editorial, “Playing with human lives” (Sept 7) aptly sums up the malaise that has overtaken the medical profession.

Polio vaccine loses its effectiveness if stored carelessly under non-existent or inadequate refrigerated conditions. That a girl gets polio despite drops, therefore, is hardly surprising. This also puts a question mark on the success of the pulse polio programme undertaken with much fanfare.

Most of the testing laboratories, especially those in rural areas, do not use disposable syringes. Repeated use of needles exposes the unsuspecting patients to the danger of dreaded diseases like AIDS. Those attending mass immunisation camps at schools and other places are equally vulnerable to this danger.

Wrong test reports or mixup of blood samples is another example of sheer carelessness. A child is “treated” for TB which he does not have and a Union Minister dies of wrong diagnosis. A sad commentory, indeed, on the diagnostic system in this modern age.

Obtaining a second opinion is becoming very common due to lack of faith in the medical setup. Incidentally, second opinion helps the medicos to double their earnings. One wonders if they have a hand in promoting the culture of second opinion.


Carelessness in health care is an unpardonable sin. Each one in the medical profession — doctors, paramedics, lab assistants — stands to blame for this malady. One is constrained to ask whether they are saviours of human lives or killers in the guise of saviours. May be, a time will come when they would realise their responsibility towards humanity. Till then pray!

Wg Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd)


Helmet or hellmate

“Police has to enforce law” says, IGP, Chandigarh experts favour helmets “wear helmets for your family’s sake” say others. Sikh bodies protest. Some focus only on Sikh women and the Administration wants to go slow and play safe. The issue is being communalised and highlighted by all, first by law makers, then enforcers and now by public without valid reason. Let us, therefore, consider the matter with an open mind in the interest of public peace and traffic safety.

The introduction of compulsory use of helmet in 70s (perhaps) with a view to ensuring safety for the two-wheeler users was communalised when an exception was made for Sikhs (and not for all those who wore turbans or could have done so) and also for the ladies as if their life was not serious concern. For more than two decades the subject has remained controversial, particularly in respect of women riders. Now when pillion riders have also been included, the controversy has assumed hellish proportions. It appears that all this is allowed or being created not for road/traffic safety but just to ensure against fatal accidents for two-wheeler users which in itself is highly doubtful.

It is pertinent to mention that since the introduction of helmet, the users are not only being tempted to drive faster and inappropriately but actually do so in the belief of a guarantee against fatal accidents, thus jeopardising their own as well as others lives.

According to dictionary meanings “helmet” is akin to ‘hell’ and how appropriately this fits in with the situation obtaining today as a result of the demands for wearing helmet.

Frankly speaking, our law-makers and law-enforcers are worried more about saving the lives of those who want to commit suicide rather than taking deterrent action against ruthless, unlicensed, ignorant (of traffic rules) and arrogant drivers who cause murders and traumas. This is done, perhaps, with a view to taking the line of least resistance or to divert public attention from real problems arising from other factors which actually and seriously affect safe driving.

It is equally relevant to mention here that helmet users, “hearing faculty” being generally impaired, their “vision” being obstructed during rain and fog and their “reflexes” damaged as a result of heat/humidity, the use of helmet is not free from danger or handicaps for the users. On the other hand, there is not a single useful contribution towards road/traffic safety (for others) from the wearing of the helmet and hence there is no justification for making the wearing of helmet as compulsory. If a belief in the efficiency or utility of helmet for the users of two-wheelers for their safety still persists in the Administration then the matter should be left to the care of insurance companies to make requisite provisions in their schemes for promoting the use of helmets or left to parents, family members and well-wishers to emphasise the utility of wearing helmet or any protective arrangement for head.



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