We proudly celebrated our 70th independence day with abundant grandeur. Deep inside, all of us were still mourning the grisly demise of helpless infants of Gorakhpur Baba Raghav Das hospital. This appalling and heart wrenching incident shocked our conscience and left the country shaken.
Digital World and media quickly sprung to their actions. This was followed by series of predictable turn of events. The tragedy was politicized. It served as a strong reason for the opposition to demand resignation from the already censured and continuously criticized Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath. A derisive attempt was made by the BJP Spokesperson, Siddharth Nath to cover up. Siddharth Nath, who is famous as an articulate speaker failed miserably this time and did a rather insensate jabbering, disappointing the public. He claimed that the accident was not due to shortage of bottled oxygen. He further stated that the problem of encephalitis was a rampant these days with most of the patients admitted for the same. Syncing with the ruling Government’s statement, hospital authority maintained that oxygen shortage was lasted only for about two hours.
The principal of the medical college was suspended on Saturday by the UP government. Next day the head of the pediatrics department and the children’s encephalitis wards, Dr Kafeel Khan was removed. Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath further promised a stern action against those who would be found guilty after the probe.
In the era of post-truth, it is easy to develop different perceptions based on news from different sources. It is further easier for the general public to blame the authority, blame them who are in the power. It is also convenient for the opposition to blame the Government and demand resignation. On the other hand it is very easy for the Government to blame the hospital authorities of irresponsibility. It is a cake walk to sack people like Dr Kafeel or the principal of the medical college as a quick action against the guilty. It wouldn’t have taken much effort of CM Adityanath Yogi to state that he wasn’t informed about the fund shortage to pay the bills. Or to state that the government had already released the required funds to settle all the dues.
Reason for the horrendous accident could be anything. It could be encephalitis or it could be the disrupted oxygen supply. Anyone can be blamed blindly or anyone can be sacked without any reasoning. But the bitter truth is, 72 innocent children were mercilessly nipped in the bud. They became victim of our scandalous and corrupted system. It is not about congress or BJP. This type of accident is neither new to us, nor does any guarantee exist that we would be spared from other such kind of misfortune in our future.
Uncountable debates, insensible blame games, politicizing or mere mourning is not the resolution of this problem. Investigating the matter to find the guilty for punishment is fine. But, in-depth analysis of the root cause and finding a feasible solution is what is desirable. This incident is a reflection of our distorted system, it is a bitter reflection of a pandemic corrupted environment not limited to only public institutions like Government hospitals. It is a reflection of our appalling state of administration, our skewed processes and the corrupted people who are part of the system.
Even after 70 years of independence, India still faces shortage of doctors, nearly 500,000 in numbers according to the World health organization (WHO) norm of 1:1000 population. Nearly 27% of the total deaths in India happen due to shortage of medical facility every year. There are shortage of medical colleges and hospitals in India. In the existing ones, there are shortage of proper facilities or medicines. There are reports of creation of false staff and temporary facilities during inspections of medical colleges to retain the government registrations. Tax payers are unaware if the funds created through their tax are being adequately allotted to the public institutions. Even if the funds are adequately allotted, it get filtered at every step at the corrupted network till it reaches the final stage. As stated before, it is not limited to public institutions. There are illegal fees systems cropped up pervasively in the private medical colleges.
Gorakhpur incident is not solely an aftermath of carelessness of a single head of the department or the principal of the medical college. Neither the private entity who stopped the supply due to non-payment of due can be blamed. And most importantly, how can we solely blame the newly formed Government. We are collectively to be blamed. Everyone who forms the system, everyone who forms the Government, who collectively makes the processes, who creates a comfortable ecosystem for corruption to happen are to be blamed. We as a whole, we as a country have failed once again.