Tuesday, March 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Plague: lessons from Surat forgotten

Plague hogged the limelight in every newspaper. In competition, certain things have been written which are avoidable, as it only adds to the concerns and anxiety of the public.

Initially, a lot was written whether the disease is Plague or not. However, equal emphasis should have been given to the fact that prophylactic measures and treatment are the same, whether or not the illness turns out to be plague. Thus, many days were wasted on the public health front. And the photograph in the Chandigarh Tribune (Feb 27) showing filth all-around Kansal village best illustrates how we handle things. So much for the action.

It is rightly said that we never learn from history, but only show a knee-jerk reaction in every field — be it sports, health or defence. We did not learn from the 1965 and 1971 wars and suffered Kargil. Similarly, no lesson has been learnt from the Surat experience. We always wait for such incidents to occur so as to indulge in stopgap measures.

Second, I agree that the PGI was not fully prepared for this kind of panic. But let us not keep on criticising them. It is, in fact, the opportune time for the states to wake up. The PGI is bursting at the seams in all fields of patient care, which has been compounded by the functioning (or lack of it?) of the medical colleges and hospitals in Punjab and Haryana. It seems that the people of the neighbouring states have no faith in their medical colleges/hospitals. That is why a patient from Bathinda district bypasses Patiala and comes to the PGI seeking treatment. It is time for the states to pull up their socks and act in the best interest of the people.


Also, to save ourselves, we completely cut off Kansal; servants were off, milkmen, were not allowed etc. But, imagine the mental agony faced by the families of the medical and paramedical staff including nurses, ward servants, sweepers, working in the isolation Ward of the PGI, who have to try to isolate these people in their own homes. (Doctors do not figure here as they appear to have lost social sympathy long ago).

Let those VVIPs, who descend on the PGI with regularity during these time, take some concrete measures (cutting across political lines) so as to improve their own state health services. This will go a long way in improving the efficiency of the PGI. And, while we are sitting on the panic button, some quick and final decision may be needed to relocate the Isolation Ward of the PGI and equip it with the latest facilities.

No decision will be taken if we press the panic button. Let us learn from history, not repeat it.

Dr RAJ KUMAR GUPTA, Chandigarh

Media & plague

If a girl accuses anybody, even falsely that such and such person has raped her, all journalists come in hoards to report the matter. In the follow-up newspapers after questioning the authorities also do not fail to report who has been arrested or not arrested and so on. It makes good reading material for your readers and thus makes good business sense for the media.

More is expected from responsible newspapers like yours when something like plague is waiting around the corner to strike in a big way. Are all newspapers waiting for the numbers of people infected or killed to rise to hundreds or maybe thousands, when it makes big news, and then report “The inaction of the government authorities in controlling the disease has led to so many deaths”.

Responsible reporting or journalism demands of media persons to put to task or at least ask the government authorities concerned. “What preventive measures are they taking in the interest of the general public who not yet infected?

“All responsible officials should take example of Mansa, which was sealed to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, on the intervention of an official who understood his responsibility and took prompt action.

There are around 15 newspapers that boast of special reporting from Chandigarh, but it is yet to be felt that our print media cares enough about this region and do something that stops a Gujarat from happening here.

GIREESH DEV, by e-mail

Winds of change

The winds of change have blown through Punjab once again. The Punjabi people, tired of corruption, declining standards and inefficient governance, are infused with a new hope. The Congress has come to power bringing a new Chief Minister. A right time to pause and make a few resolutions.

There is ample opportunity for the Congress to capitalise on the sad performance of the Akalis. The people have spoken out against the Akalis who demonstrated little concern for the good of the public and were more worried about filling their personal coffers. Rampant corruption and excesses were, indeed, the undoing of the previous government.

The people of Punjab are now waiting with bated breath to see how the honourable Captain performs.

Will there be the same kind of corruption that broke the back of Punjabis or will we see clean, honest governance?

Will people have to run to ministers to get what is due to them, or will merit be honoured?

Will there be a rekindling of the wonderful Punjabi spirit, or will we be subject to the fallacies of the corrupt?

Let the poor and middle class have a chance to reach their goals and dreams. Let not the future of deserving students, professors and honest workers be marred by wrongdoings of ministers. Give Punjab a chance. Give the worthy Punjabis a chance.


Electoral show

Apropos of Pran Chopra’s “Credible electoral show” (Feb 27), while there can be no doubt that the Indian electorate, during the recently completed elections, have asserted their preference and punished the lack of performance, it remains to be seen whether they have elected leaders with a clean image. They may not have allowed themselves to be intimidated by the divisive and extremist elements, nor do they seem to have lost their faith in the ballot box. Yet it is doubtful whether this exercise alone will bring political stability in these states and make the ruling party to sincerely devote itself to public welfare and national development.

By and large the Indian pattern of voting has been negative. Our voter has often tried to punish the corrupt and the guilty, but it is doubtful whether they have made any conscious effort to bring in leaders with an honest record in public life. Almost all candidates during their election campaign emphasised the need to defeat the inefficient and corrupt sitting legislators. But rarely has any candidate or party has highlighted past achievements without an appeal for a negative vote. At this juncture, for the BJP it may be the beginning of a process that threatens its dominance at the Centre, but it is only the replication of what had happened to the Congress earlier. And the cycle goes on.

Naturally, our system will continue to suffer instability on the one hand and dishonest, inefficient and visionless and corrupt leadership on the other till the voter has some real choice to exercise. At present it is only the “ciphers and figures” taking turn at sharing the booty of political loot in the country.



One phrase commonly used in newspapers in regard to politics in this country is “horse-trading”. I don’t know why I feel that a more appropriate term would be “donkey-trading”.


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