MAHATMA GANDHI’S VIEWS ON CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES AND CONVERSION

Mahatma Gandhi had strong views on religious conversion. He believed all religions were equal and therefore the need to switch from one to other religion was seldom justified, especially in the then prevailing Indian scenario, where he believed the Christian missionaries were indulging in proselytizing in the name of humanitarian aid.

Gandhi held the belief that “religion was not like house or cloak which can be changed at will”.

He used to say that he was not against conversion when it was in its purest form, driven by heart’s urge for higher purposes like peace and spirituality. His eldest son Harilal had converted to Islam in May 1936. Gandhiji condemned it saying Harilal’s decision was based on greed and sensual pleasures and he could never be a true follower of Islam.

“I just read in the paper about Harilal’s exploit. There could be no harm in his being converted to Islam with understanding and selfless motives. But he suffers from greed for wealth and sensual pleasures. I shall be spared all mental pain if I find my impression wrong and he turns a new leaf,” he wrote in a letter to his other son Ramlal. And indeed Harilal was driven by lesser motives as proved by his reconversion to the Hinduism fold just five months later.

He would say time and again that how happy he would be had the Christian missionaries be content with the humanitarian aspect of their work only and not in increasing the count of Christians. Following are views expressed by Mahatma Gandhi from time to time on religious conversion being performed by the Christian missionaries as available on http://www.mkgandhi.org.

WHEN GANDHIJI WAS ASKED BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES, WHETHER HE WOULD ALLOW CHRISTIANS TO CONTINUE WITH THEIR CONVERSION ACTIVITY WITHOUT ANY HINDRANCE, GANDHIJI REPLIED (YOUNG INDIA 27-10-20.)

“(And) if a change of religion could be justified for worldly betterment, I would advise it without hesitation. But religion is matter of heart. No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one’s own religion.”

GANDHIJI’S VIEWS FROM BIHAR NOTES (8-10-1925) INDICATE THAT:

“Christian missionaries have been doing valuable service for generations, but in my humble opinion, their work suffers because at the end of it they expect conversion of these simple people to Christianity …How very nice it would be if the missionaries rendered humanitarian service without the ulterior aim of conversion.”

SPEAKING ABOUT THE BHILS, THE TRIBE FROM CENTRAL INDIA, GANDHIJI SAID (NAVJIVAN 18-4-1926):

“These so-called uncivilized communities are bound to attract the attention of missionaries, for it is the latter’s duty to get recruits for the Christian army. I do not regard such proselytization as real service to dharma. But how can we blame the missionaries if the Hindus take no interest in the Bhils? For them anyone who is brought into the Christian fold, no matter how he has become a Christian, has entered a new life and become civilized. If, as a result of such conversion, converts rise spiritually or morally, I personally would have nothing to say against their conversion. But I do not think that this is what happens.”

GANDHIJI SENT A TELEGRAM TO THE EDITOR OF DAILY HERALD, LONDON, (AFTER 23-4-1931) STATING, THAT THE REPORT ABOUT THE FOREIGN MISSIONARIES WAS DISTORTION OF HIS VIEWS.

“Am certainly against the use of hospitals, schools and the like for purposes conversion. It is hardly healthy method and certainly gives rise to bitter resentment, conversion matter of heart and must depend upon silent influence of pure character and conduct of missionaries. True conversion comes imperceptibly like aroma of rose. Thus, am not against conversion as but am certainly against present methods. Conversion must not be reduced to business depending for increase upon pounds, shillings, pence. I also hold that all great religions are of equal merit to respective nations or individuals professing them. India is in no need of conversion of type described. Whilst under swaraj all would be free to exercise their own faiths. Personally, I would wish present methods adopted by missionaries were abandoned even now and that under conviction not compulsion.”

SPEAKING AT THE CONFERENCE OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY, WHICH WAS HELD AT CHURCH MISSIONARY HOUSE, LONDON, ON 8-10-1931. GANDHIJI SAID:

“The idea of converting people to one’s faith by speech and writings, by appeal to reason and emotion and by suggesting that the faith of his forefathers is a bad faith, in my opinion, limits the possibilities of serving humanity. I believe that the great religions of the world are all more or less true and they have descended to us from God.

…Religion is like a rose. It throws out the scent which attracts like magnet and we are drawn to it like involuntarily. The scent of religious contact has greater pungency than the scent of the rose, that is why I hold my view with reference to conversion.”

GANDHIJI FELT THAT HIS CAMPAIGN AGAINST UNTOUCHABILITY SHOULD NOT BE A REASON FOR THE MISSIONARIES TO GET DISTURBED. (HARIJAN, 25-1-1935.) HE SAID:

“But my trouble is that the missionary friends do not bring to their work a purely humanitarian spirit. Their object is to add numbers to their fold, and that is why they are disturbed. The complaint which I have been making all these years is more than justified by what you say. Some of the friends of a Mission were the other day in high glee over the conversion to Christianity of a learned pandit. They have been dear friends, and so I told them that it was hardly proper to go into ecstasies over a man forsaking his religion. Today it is the case of learned Hindu, tomorrow it may be that of an ignorant villager not knowing the principles of his religion… Here is Miraben. I would have her find all the spiritual comfort she needs from Christianity, and I should not dream of converting her to Hinduism, even if she wanted to do so …Take the case of Khan Saheb’s daughter entrusted to my care by her father. I should jealously educate her in her own faith and should strive my utmost against her being lured away from it if ever she was so inclined. I have had privilege of having children and grown-up persons of other faith with me. I was thankful to find them better Christians, Mussalmans, Parsis or Jews by their contact with me.”

WHEN A. A. PAUL FROM FEDERATION OF INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP HAD ASKED GANDHI TO DEFINE CONVERSION, (HARIJAN, 28-9-1935.) GANDHIJI STATED:

“My own detached view may now be stated in few words. I believe that there is no such thing as conversion from one faith to another in the accepted sense of the term. It is highly personal matter for the individual and his God. I may not have any design upon my neighbour as to his faith which I must honour even as I honour my own. For I regard all the great religions of the world as true at any rate for the people professing them as mine is true for me. Having reverently studied the scriptures of the world, I have no difficulty in perceiving the beauties in them. I could no more think of asking a Christian or a Mussalman or a Parsi or a Jew to change his faith than I would think of changing my own.. .It is a conviction daily growing upon me that the great and rich Christian missions will render true service to India, if they can persuade themselves to confine their activities to humanitarian service without the ulterior motive of converting India or at least her unsophisticated villagers to Christianity, and destroying their social superstructure, which notwithstanding its many defects has stood now from time immemorial the onslaughts upon it from within and from without. Whether they—the missionaries—and we wish it or not, what is true in the Hindu faith will abide, what is untrue will fall to pieces. Every living faith must have within itself the power of rejuvenation if it is to live.”

GANDHIJI WAS HAVING DISCUSSIONS WITH HARIJAN WORKERS IN BARDOLI ON 8-1-1942. QUESTION WAS PUT TO GANDHIJI THAT, HOW ONE DEALS WITH THE TEMPTATIONS GIVEN BY THE MISSIONARIES IN FORMS OF BOOKS, SCHOOL FEES ETC., TO WHICH HE REPLIED —

“The missionaries have of course the right to preach the Gospel of Christ and to invite non-Christians to embrace Christianity. But every attempt to press material benefits or attractions in the aid of conversion should be freely exposed, and the Harijans should be educated to resist these temptations.”

©SantoshChaubey

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CLEANING THE GANGA: GANGA ACTION PLAN PHASE 1

STATALES

14 JUNE 1985: LAUNCHED
MARCH 31, 2000: DECLARED CLOSED

INITIAL OBJECTIVE IN 1985: IMPROVING THE GANGA WATER QUALITY TO ACCEPTABLE STANDARDS (VAGUE)

REVISED AND CLEAR OBJECTIVE – IN 1987: RESTORING THE GANGA WATER QUALITY TO BATHING STANDARD

COST

  • RS. 256.26 CRORE: ORIGINAL SANCTIONED COST
    RS. 462.04 CRORE: REVISED SANCTIONED COST, APPROVED IN AUGUST 1994

AREA COVERED
25 CLASS-I TOWNS SPREAD ACROSS FOUR STATES

  • 6 TOWNS: UTTAR PRADESH
  • 4 TOWNS: BIHAR
  • 15 TOWNS: WEST BENGAL

STATUS OF SCHEMES

  • WEST BENGAL: 110 SCHEMES SANCTIONED – ALL COMPLETED
  • UTTAR PRADESH: 106 SCHEMES SANCTIONED – ALL COMPLETED
  • BIHAR: 45 SCHEMES SANCTIONED – 44 COMPLETED

WASTEWATER TREATMENT CAPACITY CREATED

  • 1340 MLD: TOTAL ESTIMATED WASTEWATER IN 25 TOWNS COVERED UNDER PHASE-I
  • 868.69 MLD: SEWAGE TREATMENT CAPACITY CREATED UNDER PHASE-I
  • 882.19 MLD: SEWAGE CAPACITY CREATION TARGET OF GANGA ACTION PLAN PHASE-I
  • WEST BENGAL: 371.06 MLD – 15 PROJECTS
  • UTTAR PRADESH: 375.09 MLD – 13 PROJECTS
  • BIHAR: 122 MLD – 6 PROJECTS (TARGET – 7 PROJECTS)

©SantoshChaubey

IT MAY BE A DALIT VS DALIT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, BUT NOT A SINGLE INDIAN STATE HAS A DALIT CM

The article originally appeared on India Today.

After the Opposition announced former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, a Dalit politician, as its presidential candidate to take on NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, the presidential election has become a Dalit vs Dalit contest.

According to the 2011 Census, 16.6 per cent of India’s population are Dalits or SCs. That’s nearly 20.14 crore people. But at the moment, no Indian state has a Dalit chief minister.

16 chief ministers belong to Forward Communities, while six states have OBC chief ministers. It includes the National Capital Region of Delhi. The eight states of north-east India – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya – mostly have tribal chief ministers.

©SantoshChaubey

SO WHAT IF RURAL EXODUS IS ADDING TO URBAN POVERTY

According to the 2014 World Urbanization Prospects, released by the Population Division of the Department of Social and Economic Affairs of the United Nations, India is going to add 404 million of people to its urban population by 2050, ahead of the projected additions by China (292 million) and Nigeria (212 million).

That is expected to add to the poverty problem of India, slowing down the rate of poverty reduction in urban areas of the country. The Global Food Policy report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in March said that the trend is bound to bring more poverty to urban agglomerations.

But it is a double-edge sword.

Why are people migrating to cities or urban agglomerations?

Because they are not able to find a sustainable livelihood back home, if they can call the place they come from as home.

The primary reason to move to cities is the additional source of income by finding jobs in the booming infrastructure sector in India. And small jobs that these big urban agglomerations support. Even if they will pay a heavy price. They will have to live on streets, in slums, with no quality of life. Education, health, shelter and amenities like piped water, electricity and roads will remain out of bounds for them. But they will, at least, be able to feed themselves and their families, that was not possible back there in their villages. Even if malnutrition becomes an urban problem with this rural exodus, it is, at least, saving lives.

They were poor back there, in villages. And they will remain poor even if they migrate to cities.

Because the sole aim of such migration is survival and not uplifting the scale of life.

So, if we see from a sociological perspective, it is a fruitful migration, as long as we keep on failing our agriculture that still supports some 45 crore Indians, if we go by an NSSO report which estimates the number of agricultural households in India at 9 crore. It is an established practice that for statistical calculations, we take the average size of an Indian family of five members. The number goes even further if we count the population dependent indirectly on agriculture.

Because the farming distress is very real. It, in fact, has been there for decades. Since 2001, over 2.30 lakh farmers have committed suicide, i.e., 2 farmers per hour, and these are as per the officials records of the government of India (NCRB figures). It is that during the years of crisis, i.e., drought and overproduction years, the problem becomes so intense that it starts spilling over on our conscience.

And it is always a chain reaction, an eco-system built on all of its constituents with faming at the core, be it rural markets, daily wage earners, transportation workers or even service professionals like lawyers and doctors, farming sustains the flow of money in the local eco-system by regulating the purse strings of majority of its stakeholders.

India has to grow and fine tune its process with this reality. It has to find solutions within the existing framework of its problems because it cannot generate millions of jobs, even in coming years, to support and sustain the chunk of population dependent on agriculture.

©SantoshChaubey

FEELING HEAT, UP CM ADITYANATH DIRECTS OFFICIALS ON FARM LOAN WAIVER

After questions are being raised over delay in the disbursal of the farm loan waiver, Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has given instructions to the Finance Department of the state to take measures to effectively implement the crop loan waiver scheme. There are numerous report on how farmers of the state are still clueless about their loan waiver even after two months of its announcement by the UP CM. Farmers are making rounds of banks but banks haven’t got any order yet and as their previous loan amount is still due, they are not able to get new loans.

The directives issued by Yogi is also being seen as an attempt to avoid farmers unrest in Uttar Pradesh after raging farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur and other districts of Madhya Pradesh and farmers’ protests and clashes with administration in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Protests in Madhya Pradesh have reached to its capital city Bhopal. And its flames further have reached to Punjab and Haryana where farmers held protests in support of the farmers of Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh farmers are also going to start their protest movement.

According to the Twitter account of the UP CM office, Yogi Adityanath has directed the state officials that the loan waiver amount of the small and marginal farmers be made available to banks immediately after the state budget is passed. The Yogi government is finalizing its budget and it is expected to be presented by June end. Yogi’s predecessor Akhilesh Yadav had presented the state’s interim budget for April-August on December 21 last year as the state was going to polls in February-March.

Adityanath has directed his officials to issue certificates of loan waiver to the small and marginal farmers and has instructed his officials that they must visit the 86 lakh beneficiary farmers to handover the document personally. The outreach is being seen as an attempt by Adityanath so express his sensitivity towards the affected farmers.

He has also asked his officials to direct the banks to not issue notice to the farmers who are beneficiary of this loan waiver scheme till the state budget is passed. For effective implementation of the loan waiver scheme, he has directed the officials to form committees at the district level headed by the district collectors. One of the most important directives he has issued is of linking the beneficiary bank accounts to their Aadhar number. It will ensure transparency and quick flow of funds from the government to the farmers once the funds are made available.

Keeping its campaign promise, the Yogi Adityanath government had waived crops loans worth Rs 36359 crore its first cabinet meeting on April 4. The waiver intends to benefit 2.1 crore small and marginal farmers of the state with loan liability of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Spread of farmers’ agitation to many states, with many of them being BJP run, has sent state governments and the central government in a panic mode. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan first announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the farmers killed in Mandsaur firing, raised it to Rs 10 lakh and then finally to Rs 1 crore, all in a span of just few hours. He also sat on indefinite peace fast to appeal to the farmers. Central government led by Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting on farmers’ agitation and Maharashtra chief minister decided to waive of farmers’ loans in the state worth 30000 crore, a long standing demand even by the Shiv Sena, the BJP partner in the state government.

Because they realize that if the BJP loses the confident of the farmers, it is staring at an electoral loss in the upcoming elections including the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Farming community and its dependents who form over one-third of India’s population are an electoral force that no political party can dare to ignore. Politics over farm crisis and farm suicides tell us the electoral might of farmers even if they are cursed to live a life of misery with a paltry monthly household income of just Rs 6426 a month, the National Sample Survey Office’s report says.

©SantoshChaubey

MADHYA PRADESH FARMERS’ PROTEST: WHY GOVERNMENT CANNOT IGNORE THE KISAN

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified based on new developments.

According to the 70th Round of the National Sample Survey, conducted during January-December 2013, India has 9 crore agricultural households. Now if we take the average Indian family size of five, we can say that can say there are 45 crore Indians dependent on farming for their survival.

The projection increases further the number of population dependent on agriculture in India if we factor in the Census 2011 data. According to Census 2011, India has 26.32 crore farmers, including 11.86 crore cultivators and 14.43 crore agricultural labourers. Taking the average Indian family size of five and multiplying it with 11.86 crore cultivators gives us 59.3 crore Indians who are supported by agriculture.

That is a huge number, when we see the voter turnout in the last Lok Sabha elections. India had 834082814 electors in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and with a turnout of 66.30 per cent, 553020648 of them voted in the polls. In 2009, the number of electors was 716985101 and turnout was 417158969 at 58.21 per cent.

It becomes even more important to weigh the political consequences when seen the context of the vote share of the winning parties in elections that is much less than the overall number of farmers in India.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP won 282 seats and a full majority for a single party after the 1984 Lok Sabha election with just 31 per cent vote share, i.e., 171436400 votes, much smaller than the population segment dependent on agriculture, the 45 crore Indians based on the projection made on NSSO findings or 59 crore Indians as per the Census 2011 findings.

Congress emerged as the largest party in the 2009 Lok Sabha election winning 206 seats with a vote share of 28.55 per cent, i.e., 119098885 votes and continued its alliance government in the centre that had come to power by defeating the BJP in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. The Congress led United Progressive Alliance government had defeated the BJP led National Democratic Alliance government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004 to form the government in the centre.

India had 671487930 electors in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. 389948330 of them voted with a turnout of 58.07 per cent. Congress got 145 seats and 26.53 per cent votes, i.e., 103453291 votes. Though it got just 7 seats more than the BJP’s 138 seats, it could stitch a viable political coalition and went on to form the government.

In the 1999 Lok Sabha election, 371669104 voters of the 619536847 electors exercised their voting rights. The BJP formed the coalition government by winning 182 seats with a vote share of 23.75 per cent, i.e., 88271412. Though the Congress could win just 114 seats, it got greater share of voters’ pie at 28.30 per cent, i.e., 105182356.

If we go by these figures, it is clear that farmers can swing electoral outcomes if they are mobilized. We have seen that with 2007 Nandigram and 2008 Singur land acquisition protests in West Bengal. Both were farmers’ agitations mishandled by the Left Front government of the state. 14 farmers were killed in police firing during the Nandigram agitation. Mamata Banerjee realized the political opportunity it gave and she successfully exploited it by leading the farmers’ agitation. Though farmers, too, are divided across community and caste lines, but agitations like Nandigram and Singur which present a survival threat have the potential to unite them to unseat the governments. West Bengal confirmed this when riding on the success of these farmers agitations Mamata Banerjee formed the government in the state in 2011, unseating the 34-year long unbridled run on the Left Front. And she has become only stronger since then, winning election after election while the Left Front is almost dead politically in the state.

That is what galvanized and united farmers can do. If it can happen in a state, it can happen in India if it spreads to too many states.

Drought or rains, the farmer in India is cursed to live a life of misery even if he has been at the core of the political discourse in our country. In last 15 years, over 2.30 lakh farmers were forced to commit suicide, i.e., two farmers committing suicide every hour, as per the latest publication of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) . Either a drought year damages their standing crops or a normal rainfall causes overproduction that makes their produce much cheaper than the prevailing market prices and thus a burden as they are not able to recover even their input costs.

Raging farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur and other districts of Madhya Pradesh and farmers’ protests and clashes with administration in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu tell us their patience is finally waning. Protests in Madhya Pradesh have reached to its capital city Bhopal. Also, in a worrying development for two state governments and the central government, farmers of Punjab and Haryana held protests today supporting farmers of Madhya Pradesh. That has sent state governments and the central government in a panic mode. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan first announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the farmers killed in Mandsaur firing, raised it to Rs 10 lakh and then finally to Rs 1 crore, all in a span of just few hours. He has also announced to sit on indefinite fast from tomorrow. Central government led by Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting on farmers’ agitation and Maharashtra chief minister decided to waive of farmers’ loans in the state worth 30000 crore, a long standing demand even by the Shiv Sena, the BJP partner in the state government.

Because they realize that if the BJP loses the confident of the farmers, it is staring at an electoral loss in the upcoming elections including the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Farming community and its dependents who form over one-third of India’s population are an electoral force that no political party can dare to ignore. Rahul Ganduhi’s visit to Mandsaur or politics over farm crisis and farm suicides tell us the electoral might of farmers even if they are cursed to live a life of misery with a paltry monthly household income of just Rs 6426 a month, the National Sample Survey Office’s report says.

©SantoshChaubey

DAMAGED CROPS, POOR INCOME AND OVERPRODUCTION FORCING FARMERS TO PROTEST

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Drought or rains, the farmer in India is cursed to live a life of misery. In last 15 years, over 2.30 lakh farmers have been forced to commit suicide, i.e., two farmers committing suicide every hour. Either a drought year damages their standing crops or a normal rainfall causes overproduction, something that is happening this year also, that makes their produce much cheaper than the prevailing market prices and thus a burden as they are not able to recover even their input costs.

And raging farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur and other districts of Madhya Pradesh and farmers’ protests in states like Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu tell us their patience is finally waning. And why not? How long can they sustain with a monthly household income of Rs. 6426 when they have to feed mouths, when they have to educate children, when they have to cover their health costs and most importantly, they have to repay their loans that they took to sow their crops? How can they manage all this in a meager sum Rs. 6426?

The National Sample Survey Office’s report of the country’s agricultural households has estimated the average income per month of agricultural households at Rs. 6426 a month. And this income figure is not from farming alone. In fact, according to the NSSO survey, farming accounts for less than 50 per cent of the income of an agricultural household. Out of Rs. 6426 a month, cultivation accounts for earning of Rs 3078 or 47.9 per cent, Rs 2069 or 32.2 per cent comes from wage or salary, Rs 765 or 11.9 per cent comes from livestock and Rs 514 or 8 per cent from non-farm business.

Punjab’s agricultural households, at Rs 18059 a month, earn most followed by Haryana’s agricultural households at Rs 14434 a month and Jammu & Kashmir at Rs 12683 a month while Bihar’s agricultural households earn lowest in the country at Rs 3558 per month followed by West Bengal’s agricultural households at Rs 3980.

According to the 70th Round of the National Sample Survey, conducted during January-December 2013, the number of agricultural households in India was around 9 crore. Now if we take the average Indian family size of five, we can say that 45 crore of Indians are surviving just at Rs 6426 per month. And Rs 6426 per month for a family of five means Rs 1285 per individual per month of an agricultural household in our country, an income level around our abysmally low poverty lines that have always been questioned by activists and experts.

Contrast it to India’s per capita income at Rs 1,03,219 or Rs 8600 a month. Even if indicative, if we juxtapose this income figure for a family of five, it comes around Rs 43,000 a month.

This huge gap between the income of an agricultural household and an average Indian household, i.e, Rs 6426 to Rs 43,000 per month, is the result of skewed income distribution in our society. The Household Survey on India’s Citizen Environment & Consumer Economy (ICE 360 degree survey) findings show the stark income based difference prevailing in our country. According to the survey, India’s richest 20 per cent account for the country’s 45 per cent aggregate household disposable income while its poorest 20 per cent barely survive on seven per cent of the share.

India has 363 million people living below the latest national poverty line suggested by the Rangarajan Committee in 2014 – Rs 32 a day in rural India and Rs 47 a day in urban India. Contrast it to the Global Poverty Line of Rs 123 a day ($1.90), four times of India’s rural poverty line and three times of its urban poverty line and we are staring at a much higher number than 363 million of defined poor in our country.

©SantoshChaubey

WHEN KEJRIWAL, SISODIA, NADDA AND OTHERS FAILED AN 80-YEAR OLD DISABLED, HELPLESS WOMAN

A lady, around 80 years, wheelchair bound, in an old-age home, with no one to take care of her in desperate medical emergencies – should the state ignore such cases – especially when they are tagged and tweeted multiple times about it – especially when they tweet and retweet multiple times a day – showing their social media alertness and connect to the world?

If that happens so – it tells how insensitive our political class has become – and in this case, it exactly came out like this!

And the ‘very aam aadmi-esque Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the claimed harbinger of change in Indian politics, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) are to share the blame here.

The grandma in question here is 80 year old Mrs. Phool Mehta, an old-age home resident from Delhi’s Mayur Vihar Phase 1. She lost her husband some years back and has no son or daughters or any other immediate family. She has no regular source of income apart from some savings, barely enough to sustain her life in the old-age home. She finds it hard to meet her routine medical needs, that are many, so managing finances for medical emergencies, that require huge sum, is out of question. Anyway, somehow, it has been managed so far somehow, like it is going to be this time.

She has multiple health issues. She is diabetic. She takes blood-pressure pills. She met an accident some years ago that has left her wheelchair bound. She has plates and rods in her thighs and hands, one of which she cannot use properly. She has ulcer and continuous internal bleeding leads to periodic Haemoglobin reduction. Her Hb at the moment is 5.2. Her both legs and left hand are swollen and it is spreading to other parts of the body. Yesterday, we took her to a nearby hospital but it refused to take her referring her to some higher centre for specialized care. They said her heart was enlarged, had oedema and they could not take the risk of blood transfusion in this case. We spoke to some Delhi government hospitals, including LBS and GB Pant but they, too, refused, saying they did not deal with such cases.

Doctors told us that the window of time that she had was very limited and so we very trying hard to get her hospitalized in some big hospital yesterday only but no headway was coming in. She was in imminent danger of a renal failure. Out of desperation, I tried to use social media to reach out to the Delhi government and Union Health Minister JP Nadda. Though I did not have much hopes, because I know politicians use social media selectively, going by the content that furthers their agenda, I did try. And I tried multiple times.

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (@arvindkejriwal), Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) and Union Health Minister JP Nadda (@jpnadda) were tagged in all ten tweets that I shot yesterday, hoping they or someone from their team would respond to at least one of them. I also tagged @pmoindia, @sushmaswaraj, @atishimarlena, @raghav_chadha and @drkumarvishwas. But all of them, who are quite active of Twitter, couldn’t find time to look even once at my tweets. A friend even tagged Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain (@satyendarjain).

In an ideal situation, based on the founding principles of these parties, or the values they claim to live and die for, they would rushed to help. But I had expected, the help did not come. It reminded me of another ‘social media savvy’ Union Minister who never responds to uncomfortable or critical tweets – Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Here are those tweets that I shot for Mrs. Mehta, the tweets that could find an alert from anyone in the Delhi Government or the Central Government. I do not want to go into a running commentary on moral obligations and ethical behaviour of our politicians because the episode is self-explanatory.

@SantoshChaubeyy
@msisodia : a 80 yr old old-age home lady in desperate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph 1. Can some1 help?
12:29 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda : a 80 yr old old-age home lady in desperate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph 1. Can some1 help?
12:59 PM – 18 Feb 2017

@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80 yr old oldage hom lady in desprate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph1. Can some1 help? 3rd tweet.
2:44 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80 yr old oldage hom lady in desprate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph1. Can some1 help? 4th tweet.
3:27 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@PMOIndia @ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need of medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 6th tweet.
4:35 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @SushmaSwaraj 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need of medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 7th tweet.
6:11 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @DrKumarVishwas 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 8th tweet.
9:25 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @AtishiMarlena 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 9th tweet.
9:49 PM – 18 Feb 2017

‏@SantoshChaubeyy
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @raghav_chadha 80yr oldage home grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 10th tweet.
9:49 PM – 18 Feb 2017

So it was all for us to try – and we had no option here to fail.

Thankfully, I was also trying my alternate network – of social workers and volunteers. And it was finally this network that came to our rescue – with timely intervention and help from Sai Padma, Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Sailesh Mishra, Abha Khetarpal, Rajeshwar Devarakonda, Dr. AB Dey of AIIMS and many others. With the coordinated help of these dots, the guiding lights here, from different parts of India, Mrs. Mehta was finally admitted to the Geriatric Ward of AIIMS this afternoon.

The doctors have put her on Oxygen. They will treat her for oedema next and then will go for her blood transfusion, some three units minimum that she needs to come to a sustainable level of Hb in her blood. Then she needs some time to stabilize. Hope all will go well now.

©SantoshChaubey

MERCEDES POLITICIANS FOR BICYCLE PEOPLE

What is India’s poverty line?

That is a big political issue in a country which houses maximum number of the world’s poor. There have been experts and their panels – many of them – but still we haven’t been able to define who is poor.

There are truckloads of data in statistical wisdoms and in countless luminary minds – yet we regularly form panels of eminent economist(s) to correct the anomaly in the previous poverty line – only to dismiss it – because the result of burning the midnight oil here is always so absurd that you would dismiss it as soon as you are enlightened with it.

In April 2014, the government unveiled its newest poverty line – Rs. 32 a day in rural areas (Rs. 960 a month) and Rs. 47 a day in urban areas (Rs. 1410 a month). That was, in fact, an improvement over the standards set by the Tendulkar committee – Rs. 27 a day in rural areas (Rs. 810 a month) and Rs. 33 a day in urban areas (Rs. 990 a month).

According to this new poverty line, 29.5% Indians are cursed to live below the poverty line. Now that is around 23 crore Indians.

And that is when this newest Indian poverty line is nowhere to the World Bank benchmark for the poverty threshold – $1.90 – a threshold that the World Bank recalibrated in October 2015 – from the earlier benchmark of $1.25. Now, based on current Dollar to Rupee exchange rate, that comes to around Rs.127 – almost four times of the newest rural poverty line in India and almost three times of the urban one.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

WHEN IT COMES TO HUMANITY, AIIMS IS AS BAD AS ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL

VIPISM

VIPism is an inherent ingredient of India’s VIP culture that has come to define our routines. It has become so intrinsic to our day-to-day lives that we cannot imagine our social life without it.

And government hospitals including AIIMS are one of the best places to see this social curse live into action.

Now it is a well established fact that government hospitals and government health care services are den of corruption. Who can forget the killings and corruption in the National Rural Health Mission?

Corruption is at every level, from ward-boys to doctors. Local purchase of medicines, spurious suppliers, private practices by doctors and convenience fee are norms here. The rot has become so deep that it has left the government run healthcare system and officials mostly with incompetent or insensitive doctors for whom money is the only criteria (and mantra). For them patients are nothing but unwanted intruders whom they just somehow want to drive away.

Condition has deteriorated to the level that no one, who can afford private treatment, goes to a government hospital. Yes, the irony of the Indian masses is, though its private healthcare system provides a formidable alternative, it is still limited to metro and urban India, (and largely scavenges on its subjects’ hard earned money). So the vast swathes of our country are left to its insensitive, ineffective government run healthcare system.

Where AIIMS is different – is the quality of healthcare professionals and facilities it offers. They are unarguably the best in the country.

But the difference ends here.

The basic thing that is required in a doctor is his humanitarian approach – that how he treats his patient – irrespective of his caste and class. AIIMS is the same bad place like the other government run hospitals when it comes to this. Its doctors and nurses may be experts and efficient but when it comes to treating the human subjects, they leave humanity at bay. AIIMS is the perfect example to show how rude doctors, nurses and other hospital staff can become. And corruption, well, can we discredit AIIMS corruption unearthed by its chief vigilance officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi?

Yes, AIIMS now look neat and clean but there are different reasons for it. AIIMS is in Delhi and is in consistent focus of a state government, a national government, national media outfits and Delhi’s population that effectively reacts. Different sting operations done on AIIMS by different media outfits reveal where it falters.

There used to be a saying that doctors are next to God. Now doctors have twisted it to ‘doctors are next to devil’. And like doctors and other institutions, AIIMS, too, has contributed to it.

If we are talking about AIIMS, we all know that here either only super-VIPs including the President or Prime Minister would go or those who cannot afford the treatment anywhere else, including the patients with complicated cases. Yes, AIIMS does get a consistent inflow of patients who can afford treatment anywhere but if they do so, it is basically about its doctors and their expert opinion. But it doesn’t come easily. Senior professors and doctors of AIIMS behave as if they are super-elite and maintain their exclusivity. They remain incommunicado. Now if you have patience to waste your three-four days, there may be some chances that you can see a senior doctor there. And those who can afford this much time sure try their luck there.

And since almost of the doctors are laggards when it comes to adopts the basics of humanity in the human behaviour, it reflects in the behaviours of every other staff member – nurses, lab-technicians, clerks, receptionists, ward-boys, guards and so on – and it the so-called systems they follow – the classic case-studies of how to harass and turn away people.

The basic thing is when you start addressing a 70 year old person in the same vein as you address a 20 year old – with no courtesy and politeness – instead with a rudeness that smacks of elitism and high handedness – you lose it all. They have forgotten that they are just doing their jobs for which they have been trained. They are living in a fallacy.

The basic problem with today’s doctors is – they are fast losing their humanity. And it has become chronic in government institutions. And AIIMS Delhi is no exception.

©SantoshChaubey