• Jul 16, 2018

    This refers to your cover story Child Care on Oxygen (July 2). We are extremely vocal about healthcare but haven’t made even minimum progress in the area. Healthcare for children and women should be a top priority. The app­alling child mortality rate of India should be reason enough to step up child healthcare, especially in rural areas, but, as your story reveals, the situation is very dire. These days, many a ‘multispeciality hospital’ is part of the urban skyline, its sky-high treatment rates wholly out of the reach of the common man. Sometimes, modern diagnostic gadgets make their way to the rural landscape, through the WHO or as a rare fulfilment of a neta’s tall promise, yet due to lack of adequate doctors in villages, they are of little use. Our doctors are averse to working in villages, soc­ialism is long gone. Therefore, we need a new model—better incentives to make doctors work in rural areas. A rec­ent study found that one doctor is available for 1,668 people in India. Even when it comes to health expenses, India spends much less than other countries.

    Lt Col (retd) Ranjit Sinha, Calcutta

    From Gorakhpur to Nashik, from Calcutta to Kolar and from Cuttack to Bhuj, our children are dying as policymakers pay scant regard to issues that really matter. We spend just around 1 per cent of our GDP on health and around 3.5 on education. This is reflected in primary healthcare, hospitals and nursing homes operating without doctors, nurses, ­para-medical staff and equipment, forcing people to take rec­ourse to private hospitals for whom medicate care, inc­luding that of hapless children, is just a business to mint money.

    Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun

    The lack of infrastructure in the Indian healthcare sector is appalling. Hospitals in rural areas do not even have adequate manpower. Even the handful of doctors in rural areas have no choice but to forego conducting important tests simply bec­ause the necessary equipment is unavailable. The fact that the health of citizens means little to political leaders was highlighted when almost 300 children died in August last year at a medical college hospital in Gorakhpur.

    J. Akshobhya, On E-Mail

    The primary healthcare map is shamefully littered with casualties due to institutional negligence. Obviously, no lessons have been learnt from the Gorakhpur tragedy. Public healthcare is in a pathetic condition due to various reasons and corruption in hospital-related supplies is one of them. According to a media report, the company which used to supply oxygen cylinders to the BRD hospital had stopped supplies as its bills worth Rs 63 lakhs had not been cleared since November 23, 2016. According to some reports, hospital authorities allegedly asked for a 12 per cent commission, as against the 10 per cent earlier given, to clear the company’s bill. This caused the disruption in oxygen cylinder supplies. The Modi government has come up with an ambitious healthcare program for the poor—Ayushman Bharat—an insurance scheme which aims to cover as much as 10 crore families to take care of almost all of their secondary and most tertiary healthcare procedures. It would be the biggest such in the world. Will it be successful? The genuine implementation on the ground for such a programme will be a big challenge for the government.

    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

    This is with reference to the cover story Childcare on Oxygen (July 2). Neglect on the part of medical staff is an important factor. It came to light last year when Salome Karwah, the Liberian nurse who was named Time magazine’s person of the year in 2014 for her efforts to combat Ebola, died from childbirth-related complications due to the attitude of doctors and nurses who might mistakenly have believed that Ebola survivors could still transmit the virus. And in India, it has been claimed that a woman was accidentally burned to death in a funeral pyre after doctors had wrongly pronounced her dead hours earlier. She showed no signs of life thereafter but an autopsy showed charred particles in her windpipe and lungs, say police, which would not have been present if she had not been brea­thing. Other doctors later determined that the cause of death was not a lung ­infection but was in fact ‘shock caused by being burned alive’. This was a living ­illustration of doctors’ impropriety, and the vulnerable healthcare system will not be fixed until doctors accept noblesse oblige.

    Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda

    The alarming infant mortality rate is an indication that UP needs a far more mature healthcare system with professionals who are capable of managing critical situations. The system needs to be further filtered into rural areas where people are unaware of basic health precautions. Some of India’s western and northeastern states are badly off due to the abs­ence proper ­educational and healthcare practices. It would be good if they could initiate joint missions with the help of other states that are doing better in health indicators.

    Ramachandran Nair, Muscat

  • One-liner
    Jul 16, 2018

    It seems ‘new’ India keeps building optimism on weak foundations, such as primary healthcare.

    Rahul Pradhan, On E-Mail

  • Just Arriving
    Jul 16, 2018

    This is about Outlook Editor Ruben Banerjee’s imm­ensely enjoyable, even if painfully relatable, Travail Diary (July 2). A victim of similarly harrowing congestion woes, his experience of driving 240 kms from Delhi to Rishikesh during the peak summer season has not surprised me. Unfortunately, highway logic has come to demand that during the tourist season, busy people in need for some peace and quiet should not visit places like Rishikesh, which is on India’s frenetic religious map. If they do, they should be prepared to face the music of endless honking and traffic pile ups. The use of the term ‘atithi devo bhava’ in tourist literature is just a business cliché. North Indian hill stations are at their best when visited during the off-season.

    M.N. Bhartiya, Goa

  • Jul 16, 2018

    Outlook’s World Cup special issue (Let’s Football, June 25) was interesting, especially the article charting the Indian football fan (Gali Gali Football Shootball). But the ongoing World Cup has brought out the one reality: “Kicking a ball around is an instinctive urge of all humans.” India perhaps is not in this grid, because it has surrendered its soul to cricket. Kerala is an exception. During World Cups, the state goes into a frenzy. Vehicles and houses are painted in colours of their favourite teams, usually Brazil and Argentina. But then, adverse reactions from fans can be extreme. For example, Dinu Alex, an Argentinian fan, committed suicide, dejected after his team’s defeat against Croatia.

    C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad

  • Jul 16, 2018

    Since its introduction, a large number of common people have been suffering from GST (GST Or GSN’T, July 2). Recently, a woman who took a gold loan told me that on redeeming her jewels she wasn’t only paying interest for the loan, but also the GST on the interest amount. Not only that, the late fee for the delayed payment of premium also attracts GST. Can the government not exempt all ­interest collection from GST?

    L. Samraj, Chennai

    Unfortunately, there was no discussion on how GST impacted government revenues in your GST package. GST was brought in to bring more people in the tax net, so that the Centre could garner more revenues at a moderate rate. This crucial point was just not covered.

    Sumeet Mishra, On E-Mail

  • Jul 16, 2018

    This refers to your story on the fall of the Jammu and Kashmir government (Abandoned in Lotus Time, July 2). I am sure it was with an eye on the 2019 general elections and its core constituency of voters in the rest of the country that the BJP decided to walk out of its ruling coalition with the PDP. The BJP probably outdid its ally by pulling out on its own terms—the PDP was perhaps planning to not go along with the BJP in the 2019 polls, possibly also because of the Kathua rape and murder case. The saffron party’s decision to take the initiative in parting ways might be politically smart, but it could also turn the simmering ‘Delhi-Kashmir divide’ into a direct Kashmir versus Delhi conflict. Perhaps, that was the intention.

    J.S. Acharya, On E-Mail

    After the ceasefire experiment ended in a failure, the BJP took a bold step to end the untenable alliance with the PDP after a rollercoaster ride for three years. There is no doubt the PDP paid a heavy price for overlooking the BJP in the decision-making process, and for being a thorn in its side on many crucial issues such as uniform civil code, tackling stone-pelters and withdrawal of cases against them, going soft on Hurriyat and the Rohingya refugees. The BJP also acc­used CM Mehbooba Mufti of not doing enough to curb terrorism, violence and radicalisation, leading to deterioration of the security situation. The murders of the politically moderate senior journalist Shujaat Bhukari and an arm­yman became the last straw in the unholy alliance. The BJP gave up power in the national interest. Better late than never, the rocky relationship coming to an end earlier than expected comes as a great relief to many of us. The Centre must give a free hard to the security forces to go all out to liquidate the terrorists so that the security situation imp­roves, bringing peace to the Valley.

    K.R. Srinivasan, Hyderabad

  • Sacred Worry
    Jul 16, 2018

    This refers to your story on the missing key to the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar of the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri (Lay of the Lost, June 25). You brought up an important issue that was brushed under the carpet for a long time. It is obvious there is no transparency in the temple management on the size of the wealth in the Ratna Bhandar. The tussle between the government and the Daitapati Niyog for authority and control of the hidden wealth is not likely to end soon. Appointment of a high-level committee to inspect, document and maintain the wealth with complete transparency will ease the minds of millions of Jagannath devotees.

    Minati Pradhan, Bangalore

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