Monday, January 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Why impose curbs on private hospitals ?

THIS refers to the news item, “Regulatory body for hospitals, nursing homes soon” (Dec 15). The reported statement of the Punjab Health Minister is ill-conceived, lacks knowledge of facts and is against the medical profession.

The private medical system contributes immensely to the total health care delivery in the country. Even after 50 years of Independence, various governments have failed to curb diseases, 80 per cent of which are preventable. See the emergence of tuberculosis.

The state government should first see the pathetic condition of the state-run medical colleges and hospitals at Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot. Why interfere with the working of private medical institutions which are doing exceedingly good work, imparting latest treatment to patients? The government does nothing for private hospitals and nursing homes — no financial schemes, no dirt-cheap loans and private practice is not allowed within the residential area.

Doctors have to raise and spend crores of rupees on their own to establish a hospital with latest machines and equipment, having spent their youth and prime of life in tough studies. First, the charges in a private set-up are not exorbitant; after all there is also competition among them. Second, the patient knows about the expected expenditure before getting treatment; so where is the scope for “excessive charging” as stated in the news item?


Who compels patients to come and seek treatment in private hospitals and pay the so-called exorbitant fee? It is because they have studied the medical facilities available, know the reputation of the treatment available at a particular place and feel more satisfied about everything there. That is the reason why these private establishments are successful, and keep adding latest treatment facilities with their earnings to help their patients in return. After all, the private doctors also have to earn their livelihood and support their kids.

One has to look deeper into the hardships faced by the doctors in rendering adequate and prompt treatment to patients 24 hours a day. The cost of treatment went up after the implementation of the Consumer Protection Act. One, because doctors would not risk not ordering sophisticated and costly investigations, and two, because they have to charge enough to fight and defend their cases later.

Even then private hospitals have a heart for the poor and needy patients and have charitable wings, and their efforts should be applauded. Even as a private eye surgeon, I don’t mind doing an operation free of cost. In this hypocritic society where doctors are thought of as “divine” and treated as “messihas”, why should they not be paid for the services rendered? In fact, they deserve any amount (with folded hands and thanks), and any amount would not be higher than what he does to a patient’s life, most humbly.

There would be no medical malpractices if the doctors are paid what they deserve, in all set-ups. And there would be no brain-drain, from the government to the private sector and from India to abroad. Why has the government hiked the charges of treatment in its medical colleges and hospitals, expected to be absolutely free? That in spite of the abundant grants to them. Let the government help the private sector and bear institutional expenditure and then see the treatment prices crashing down. Why should the government-run hospitals ask the patient to rush and get a syringe and a bandage from the market? In fact, some of the surgical procedures are cheaper in private hospitals.

Why doesn’t the government provide enough jobs so that no doctor has to do private practice. Regulatory authority? Yes! against quacks who kill people and the government has not done anything about them. If “private medical services have become an industry with a massive turnover running into hundreds of crores of rupees in Punjab only”, to quote the report, it is a tribute to the medical fraternity who have brought world-class treatment to the people.

And if medical consumerism defines medical treatment as a saleable commodity, as in other shops or services, then why should it not be an industry? The medical profession is the most lowly paid in India, don’t let it be “thankless” too!

Dr RAJAN CHUGH, Chandigarh

History congress

In their zeal to denigrate and condemn “saffronisation” of history, some interesting, some naive and some even unimaginative pronouncements were made in the 63rd session of the Indian History congress. For example, Dr. J.S. Grewal had this to say: “A number of invaders, including the Mughals and the British, had imbibed the rich Indian culture. The assimilation of such diverse Islamic and English influence by the liberal Hindu culture was the hallmark of a great religion like Hinduism”. By that logic India should invite Japan, Korea, Iran, America and others to oblige us by invading our country so as to make rich Indian culture richer. What a novel idea!

Prof Satish Changra suggested “Past history should be the guiding force of future historians”. It is not a pragmatic notion. History is a continuing, not static, process. It has limitless scope of enrichment and correction by new discoveries, new symbols and perennial process of latest findings from new excavations and old scriptures.

Lastly, it should not be lost sight of that most of the Indian history has been lifted from the writings and research of English authors and manuscripts of the Mughal period.

J. K. MAGO, Panchkula


Ruling on lawyers’ strike

A few days back the Supreme Court ruled that the Bar has no right to strike. In spite of the order, the lawyers did not budge an inch, putting the litigants to many hassles. The court also ordered that for striking work, lawyers should make good the litigants’ loss, but did not give a ruling on how it should be assessed.

Dr G. R. GOPINATH, Bangalore

Respect the martyrs

Apropos the news item “Captain, three militants killed in encounter” (Dec 31), I find your paper quite balanced and unbiased, but the way you have been reporting about the martyrdom of our Army men is heart rending. How can you say in the same breath, “Captain, three militants killed in encounter. The Captain lost his life defending the nation and the militants were killed for their nefarious deeds. But the way you report it appears they belong to the same category.

I request you to talk of our Army men with great dignity and honour. They lay their lives for our sake, without thinking of their old parents, young wives and small children that they leave behind. We all should salute them.


Inter-connecting rivers

This is regarding the idea of inter-connecting Indian rivers for better utilisation of water resources. This proposal is contradictory to the report that the Himalayan glaciers are melting repidly due to global warming. The ice cap of the North Poll will also vanish in less than 80 years for the same reason. In the circumstances, will it be prudent to go in for such a giant project? By the time, the project gets completed, the Indian rivers might run dry. Then who will benefit from this proposal? Only the civil public departments and the contractors.


Kirtan by women

Apropos the report “Vedanti opposes the orthodox, pleads for kirtan by women in Golden Temple”. I was shocked to know that women are not allowed to perform kirtan and kar seva inside Harmandar Sahib. Sikhism does not preach gender discrimination and how could Sikhs allow this to be carried on for so long? This is disgrace and Mr Vedanti must take immediate action to resolve this.


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