Should the dead go unwept, unsung? | india | Hindustan Times
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Should the dead go unwept, unsung?

SEEMINGLY, THE matters at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) have been resolved, though at a very high human cost, for, a number of gas victims died unattended during the strike of the doctors and the ensuing stalemate. In a spirit of reconciliation matters have been sorted out, but does that mean that those who died should go unwept and unsung?

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 23:39 IST
Zamiruddin

SEEMINGLY, THE matters at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) have been resolved, though at a very high human cost, for, a number of gas victims died unattended during the strike of the doctors and the ensuing stalemate. In a spirit of reconciliation matters have been sorted out, but does that mean that those who died should go unwept and unsung?

Whether or not responsibility is fixed and the guilty not brought to book and punished, the painful truth shall always haunt us that we, the living, allowed the guilty to go scot-free.

When the things are getting normal and services restored, some gas tragedy-related NGOs, who were dead and defunct for a very long time, want to keep the strife alive so that they register their existence.

They are asking for those very things that the striking doctors had asked for and, it seems, they hold a brief for the doctors. Rather than assist in restoring normalcy at the hospital in the interest of the gas victims they are trying to vitiate the atmosphere. This much for their social credentials.

The doctors’ strike needs a careful consideration, not just the one by the BMHRC staff, but of the hospitals in general, for no strike hurts the citizens more than the doctors’, for it involves human lives and sufferings. The question being asked is: should we legally withdraw the right of the medical profession to proceed on strike?

It is untenable, for it would be undemocratic and shall tantamount to discrimination, for many a time the doctors may have legitimate reasons (I am not talking of the BMHRC strike) to proceed on strike, which is the only method of registering their grievances or pressing their demands. Here it is, I feel, that the citizens’ forums can play a vital role.

It is a recent but salutary phenomenon that enlightened and responsible citizens have begun demonstrating a voluntary will to participate in the overall governance, and what else would be welcomer than the benign constructive interference of the concerned citizens in public matters that need their assistance.

If the citizens have a right to condemn and criticise the public functionaries, they owe a duty not only to listen to their genuine grievances but also to plead their cause with the concerned authorities, so that strikes are smothered and human sufferings are mitigated by smooth operation of variety of our public institutions.

Such a participation in governance would reduce pressure on administration as well that is beleaguered by irritating confrontations every now and then.

It may not be out of context if I take the liberty of citing the benign and effective role that a Citizens’ Forum (headquartered at National Center for Human Settlement and Environment) is playing in traffic and municipal matters. The

Forum saw the offending hoardings removed from various important sites in the City and from the VIP Road and has advised the BMC and the Police on a number of issues in a friendly but effective manner: the cooperation of these institutions had been enormous and overwhelming.

If more forums are constituted and take upon themselves the social duty of sorting out variety of problems on behalf of the citizens by establishing liaison with various government departments and other public offices, civil life will be free from several avoidable distressing situations that plague us every day.

I had heard of Rogi Kalyan Samiti, which was established during the Congress rule, to oversee the health care of the citizens, and it is believed that the Samiti did some commendable work. One wishes that some such permanent bodies of citizens came forward to resolve issues like the one the BMHRC faced recently. Good governance requires it.