Thursday, October 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Privatisation: the easy way out

The Punjab Government is planning to privatise government hospitals to provide better facilities to people. Yes, it means better facilities to a few who can afford and no facilities to the majority of the public because they can ill afford the rising costs of medical cover.

The private parties are not going to run hospitals on a no-profit, no-loss basis. They will definitely like to draw maximum gains and use these institutes as profit-making ventures.

There is no dearth of private hospitals and nursing homes for all those who can afford their cost. Then why privatise hospitals? What will happen to the majority of the people who cannot even afford the basic nominal registration fee of a government hospital or a dispensary.

If the government decides to look for joint ventures in the field, there will be no dearth. However, there are better alternatives:

Run the hospitals in cooperation with the Army. At least this can be done in the North. Since the arrangement will be on A no-profit, no-loss basis, the common man will not suffer.

The medical costs will remain within the reach of the common man. More discipline and efficiency in the working will be inducted.

If tied up at the highest level of decision-making, this arrangement should not be difficult.

Lt Col Krishan Paul Bhaskar (retd), Ambala


Primary Health: Though the move of the Punjab Government is in the right direction in order to strengthen the secondary health care by utilising the funds of Rs 456 crore from the World Bank, it is also very important to strengthen the primary health care which is already in a shambles.

The principles of universal, comprehensive primary health care, envisioned in the 1978 Alma Ata declaration should be the basis for formulating policies relating to providing total health care i.e primary, secondary and tertiary. Now more than ever, an equitable, participatory and inter-sectoral approach to health and health care is needed.

Raman K. Aggarwal, Phagwara

Capital move

The editorial “Capital move” (Oct 3), commenting upon the HP Government’s declaration that Dharmsala would be the second capital of the state, attracts adverse notice for its insipid tone and tenor, falling much short of calling a spade a spade. It is, at best, an exercise in tight-rope walking.

Obviously and indisputably enough, utmost austerity in administration is one of the most crying needs of the state — reeling under a sickening resource crunch and mounting debt. The fund-starved tiny state can go in for the costly “luxury”, of having two capitals only at its general peril.

The fringe benefits — regular supply of electricity and water etc — may of course be available to the people annually for the short duration during which the town would be hosting the state government. However, the benefits would be confined only to Dharmsala town and not extended to the entire Kangra region, as the editorial erroneously observes.

The move in question is not likely to yield any political dividend neither to the ruling BJP nor to Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal personally. In fact, the gimmick may help generate adverse public reaction in the state and thus boomerang.

Tara Chand, Ambota (Una)

Patience, how long?

Oct 2: “6 jawans die in blast, Ultras kill 12 in Kashmir”. Oct 3: Fresh wave of violence, 3 NC workers, 6 BSF men killed in valley.” Oct 4: “Captain, DSP die in encounters”. Oct 6: “4 jawans die in blast”.

I, on behalf of the common people, ask what is the use of sacrifices made by our brave people when the government seems to be dormant. After each attack and every massacre, some politician comes up with a statement that Pakistan is testing our patience. What is the limit of our patience?

Megha Vashisht, Jalandhar

Army rebuttal

Apropos the report “Army top brass to visit forward areas” (Oct 2), certain issues need to be put in the correct perspective. There were some references which were not even remotely concerned with the overall contents of the report or even facts.

The report appears to be a supreme example of arm-chair journalism based on unconfirmed reports pieced together to create an eye-catching story. Such articles showcase the freedom of expression, and may not be malicious per se, but in the long run irresponsible journalism like this is likely to harm the overall national endeavor as well as the credibility of the reporter, if not the newspaper itself.

Lt Col Anurag Shukla, C/O 56 APO

A poser to PM

The Prime Minister visits the USA (Sept 2), the Maldives (Sept 2) and Europe (Oct 2). Mr Prime Minister, when are you going to visit the jawans you have ordered to be deployed on the border for the last 10 months?

Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (retd), Chandigarh


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