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.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Tragedy of Lal Ded

The Lal Ded Maternity Hospital must be giving sleepless nights to the saint-lady of our history and folk lore

Lal Ded: crying for help

Muhammad Sadiq (Rising Kashmir)

Health and education are the two most important components of Human Development Index of any nation. And states have always been capitalizing upon these to stay ahead in the comity of nations. They say that nation’s health is the sum total of the healthiness of its individual citizens. If hospitals are the best places to have a glimpse of nation’s well-being then Kashmir’s health scene certainly calls for an emergency action. Our health services comprise an out-dated diagnostic measures, shoddy hospitals with untidy environs, cutting and sewing of human bodies what they call surgeries, torrent of drugs and purely mechanical modes of treatment.

On the contrary it is care that relieves patients of the severity of half of their pains and ailments. But that kind of healthcare seems a far cry here.

Lal Ded, the only full-fledged maternity hospital in Kashmir is a case in point. The unhygienic ambiance of the hospital looks more of a hazard for normal health than anything else. Over crowded wards with stink all around; shall we call this a hospital! Labour Room is a real shock. More than one patient writhing in labour pains having no choice but to share a single bed besides others just crying upon the floor. Bathrooms, corridors, stairs and surroundings are anything but clean.

Pathetic is the apt word for whatever is in this hospital. On an average more than 600 patients are admitted daily in the hospital. Nearly 100 new patients are received by the hospital daily and almost 500 patients visit the OPD every day. Add to it thousands of attendants and regular visitors and it turns out to be a real mess. Shortage of staff doesn’t help it either. Doctors call it a result of poor and out-dated infrastructure, and patients have accepted it as their fate like the passengers of a choked and over-crowded bus.

The hospital is the manifestation of Government-Public partnership in mismanagement and lack of concern. Once Legislative Council passed a resolution that recommended that government should take immediate steps to improve the deteriorated condition of the Lal Ded maternity hospital. The then minister of State for Health even said that a new 500-bed maternity hospital would be set up in Kashmir and Lal Ded hospital would be upgraded. What happened? Nothing, as usual. Here priorities are parks not people. Since then crores of rupees have been lavishly spent on the maintenance of golf courses and other public parks.

Now that the new Chief Minister has had a round of the hospital, suspending an officer as well, he needs to be quick and effective n getting the things right in this hospital.

It makes a deep dent in the credibility of the government, which flaunts development and makes it every-minute mantra, if it ends up doing nothing. By development what does the government mean? Is it not human development?

The government that has attracted people’s attention by raising the slogans of good governance owes an answer to them. Excellent articulation about public affairs alone cannot alleviate the sufferings. It needs delivery on ground. Can the new government come up with some plan to make hospitals come closer to the concept of healthcare? Let them give a thought to it, at least.

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