In the public eye

first_imgDevelopments in West Bengal in the past week have reverberated across the nation as the assault on one of the junior doctors at NRS Hospital received widespread criticism. Protests across Bengal with the support received from across the country was a sigil of solidarity even as this very solidarity rendered thousands of patients without medical facilities. Doctors refused to work in Delhi, UP, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Karnataka and other parts of the country to display their support towards the demands of NRS doctors. AIIMS Delhi went a step ahead and gave the West Bengal government an ultimatum of 48 hours with a delegation of Indian Medical Council visiting the Union Health Minister over the concerned issue. The pertinent issue of lack of security and police personnel in government hospitals across the nation has been a corner of concern. Like government banks, railway stations, etc., even the government hospitals must have appropriate security and police presence to avoid any mishap. The incident which took place at NRS Hospital was indeed an unfortunate one but more than that it was a serious security lapse. Overreacting patients cannot be ruled out given the severity of issues hospitals deal with and the state of mind any particular individual might be in. Assaulting anyone is against law and there are always those who break laws. Hence, the requirement of adequate safeguards to ensure safety, and that too at someone’s workplace, is paramount. Rightly so then, the demand put forth by doctors of NRS hospital was justified as it echoed across the nation with supporters decrying the incident and demanding action. Of course, the issue was red-hot and at a vulnerable point to be politically exploited and further leading to more protests. Already, a pool of patients had to bear the brunt of doctors’ absence. In short, the state was getting severely affected and the issue would have compounded and became a problem with ramifications which would not be pleasant. Also Read – A compounding difficultyIn this chaos, West Bengal’s chief minister took steps which made NRS hospital, doctors across the state and nation as well as people of Bengal reinstate their faith in the system, especially Mamata above all. The consequence of any agitation in a democracy is always going to be reformist in nature. The seven-day standoff between doctors and state government over lack of security at the workplace came to an end thanks to the truce achieved by the Mamata administration and a delegation of junior doctors. The state secretariat witnessed a 100-minute meeting where Mamata managed to put a smile on faces of protesting junior doctors who, by their absence from the workplace, had brought health services across the state to a standstill; their protest was emulated by others across the nation bringing health services to a halt at many places including the private hospitals shutting their OPDs. The protests staged by doctors transformed into a round of applause as Mamata accepted all their demands and appealed to them to end their strike, calling them “good boys”. The doctors, prior to their meeting, had put forward a demand to live-stream the meeting on news channels instead of a closed-door meeting, setting a precedent that was hailed by all, and would result in increased transparency – something governments have always eluded in some way or another. Closed-door meetings have been conventionally followed to resolve issues, even if they involve the common people. In the garb of confidentiality, almost everything regarding the government is discreetly discussed without letting the layman witness any of it. The essence of democracy is dampened but decisions of authority prevail nevertheless. However, with a one-of-its-kind meeting, the Mamata administration has not only satisfied doctors but the entire state. The incident takes us back to when DD Lok Sabha aired proceedings of the lower house on national TV. Democracy was enriched with public viewership as the elected representatives discussed matters of national interest. The coverage showed Mamata patiently listening to all demands raised by the delegation of junior doctors, jotting down points while asking health and police officials in the room to act on issues as entire West Bengal and the country watched. Governance of this sort really places the administration on a different note. When a government is able to fearlessly pursue remedies and solutions to fix cracks in the system, which is their duty as representatives of people, with a public eye constantly watching, democracy is strengthened. In the context of doctor’s agitation, Mamata pioneered the grievance redressal as the strike ended and doctors returned to their daily work. In fact, the positive note of the meeting reflected in their actions as they went back to NRS Hospital cheering and smiling and apologised to patients and their families with folded hands. If governments – who are fond of setting up committees to look into issues and provide redressal – practice what the West Bengal government did in this case, chances of public redressal increase several folds. Even the quality of remedy is assured since actions of government are now accountable in the eyes of masses due to the live-streamed meeting. In essence, transparency is increased and in a democracy, that will be always desirable.last_img

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