Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Only in Kashmir - The Rites of Corruption Begin at Birth

Having a baby in Srinagar's only women's hospital is a learning experience in extortion

Last week a baby was held hostage for ransom in the Valley’s only maternity hospital named after a Kashmiri saint, Lal Ded.

The incident of holding a newborn baby hostage for extorting money from the relatives by the labour room staff of Lala Ded hospital is not first of its kind but has rather been a tradition going on in the hospital for many years. Last year, a similar incident took place when an engineer from south Kashmir's Anantnag district was relieved of Rs 800.

According to hospital sources, a case of harassment was reported two months back involving five orderlies who were posted in the labour room and who extracted money from the relatives of a newborn. The five orderlies extracted Rs 900 from the people.

The sources said that not just the demand of money, but the incidents of baby thefts have also taken place in the hospital in the past. Last year a woman posing to be an attendant of a newborn baby was successful in giving slip to the staff of the pediatric ward and fled with the baby from the hospital. However, due to timely action of police the woman was later nabbed from the old city. Admitting the prevalence of rampant corruption in the hospital, Principal GMC and associated hospitals, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, told etalaat that things have started improving in the hospital.

The authorities have taken action against the erring personnel but a lot more needs to be done to ensure smooth functioning of the hospital which was in news last month for all the bad reasons. While the hospital administration must be taken to task for the wrongs committed every now and then, the general public cannot escape responsibility for making a mess of an important institution. The hospital which daily receives more than 800 patients in the out patient department (OPD) is flooded with attendants who most of the time are seen roaming around the OPD where males are not allowed.

The government too has a role to play to rid the hospital of its troubles. A huge maternity home at posh Sanat Nagar area has been rendered defunct. It has been reliably learnt that relatives of politicians and bureaucrats are posted in the maternity home. They rarely visit the hospital thus making it defunct. If the maternity home is set right and if the concerned ensure presence of all the doctors and other staff in the hospital, the main Lal Ded hospital will feel relieved to some extent. Similarly if the government rises to the occasion and provides all the facilities needed for maternity cases in the district and sub-district hospitals, the people from far flung areas will have no reason to come to Lal Ded. This will lighten the burden of the hospital.

Here an attempt is not being made to restrain people from rural areas to visit the hospital. This is the hospital of the people and nobody on earth can stop them from seeking treatment there. But, the huge rush not only creates problems for the administration, it has an adverse effect on the patient as well. Most of the patients are to be treated for infection after their discharge from the Lal Ded. The patients with complications can be referred from district and sub-district hospitals. Load shedding will increase the efficiency of the hospital as well.

The doctors are human beings and in this hospital have to perform under tremendous pressure. At times they do commit mistakes but when the number of patients to be examined and attended lessens, the scope for committing mistake will also lessen. Meanwhile, the people must take care to keep the hospital clean. Use of dustbins and proper use of toilets must be ensured.

The hospital has provided proper and hygienic cooking places at various places in the hospital. The people must learn to use them properly. The Lal Ded must look like a maternity home and not a railway platform. The people should not pay money to the staffers to celebrate the birth of a baby. This breeds corruption. The practice has been going on for several decades and now they demand it as a matter of right. This is the reason that a baby was held hostage last week for ransom. The administration alone cannot do anything. The people too have to play their part in making the hospital a better place.

(Reproduced from the Daily Etalaat)

1 comment:

Anil said...

Only when we recognize and accept our societal deficiencies and faults, will we be able to initiate efforts to rectify them. Otherwise we will always be in dark and denial. Thanks for highlighting our societal 'aebe'.