A doctor is considered a god in India.
But only if the patient is healed. Otherwise the healer is the devil incarnate.
Recently, a mob of around 200 people wreaked havoc in NRS Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata when a patient died due to what they claimed was medical negligence. Bricks were hurled and one of them hit a junior doctor. https://t.co/4HKFgjE6Lt
The skull, one of the strongest and most important anatomical structures of the body ended up with a deep dent in it. Unsurprisingly, the junior doctors and other members of the medical community in Kolkata announced a strike in protest.
Sadly, and unsurprisingly, the government didn’t side by them and instead threatened them.
Mamata Banerjee, the CM of the state threatened the doctors to return to duty within 4 hours or vacate their hostels in public. In private, she requested the senior doctors to return to duty. Her words were, “I will be obliged and honoured if you all please take full care of the hospitals.”.
I wish I could say that is something I haven’t heard before. I wish I could say that this was limited only to Bengal. I wish I could say that this won’t happen again. But I cannot.
Doctors have been treated with utter disrespect by politicians in India for decades and what Mamata Banerjee has done is just another incident in a long history of politicians whipping up anger and distrust against the medical profession. This time the media has been kind enough to give some attention to this issue to ensure administrative protection for the doctors.
I am speaking to you, the doctor. After braving the odds through one of the toughest competitive exams in India you got into the MBBS course. After 5.5 years of arduous studies, exams, practicals, bullying from senior doctors, you got the precious title of a healer. Through the 12-24-hour work shifts, pathetic conditions in the hospital, crumbling residential facilities and poor food, you worked to ensure the best quality of care you could give to the patient. Yet, one day a mob decided that you are not good enough and hit you with a brick. In one night, your life changed forever. It took just one angry family to destroy all the aspirations and expectations you had for your life.
You did all this for nothing. You went through all the difficulties in life only to be hated by the people you swore to serve.
I see some doctors around me choosing to say nothing because this is only happening to junior doctors. I see others choosing not to say anything because this happened in a far away place. I see too many choosing to be quiet out of learned helplessness. “This has been happening since decades.” “Nothing has changed in all these years and nothing will change now.” “This is India. It is how it is.”
Doctors of India, Unite.
This is one of those rare moments when the media is being sympathetic. This is one of those rare moments when the general public is on your side. You need to speak up now or let the profession be sacrificed for vote-bank politics repeatedly. Don’t let this opportunity go. Use this opportunity to establish yourselves not as gods or devils but as human beings who have inalienable rights of their own.
Speak up now or forever hold your silence.