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Posts Tagged ‘Rajnath Singh

Union Budget for 2018-2019 has promised a National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), a publicly funded health insurance programme for half a billion citizens of the country. But no sufficient funds have been allocated for what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said would be the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme.

In the first phase, 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres are proposed to be set up across the country to provide comprehensive healthcare including free medicines and diagnostic services. But the Budget allocation for this is only Rs 1,200 crore. This works out to about Rs 80,000 per centre. If a centre receives 100 patients on weekdays which will make around 25,000 in a year, the average allocation per patient would be a little over Rs 3 which is much too insufficient even to cover the medicines and diagnostic services, leave aside the overhead expenses on running a centre.

It’s not that the government woke up only recently to the health problems of the people. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had observed in December 2014 — a few months after the present NDA government took office — that a major change in the health care system of India was needed. The country, he said, was at present having a fragmented healthcare system which was not at all enough to cater to the needs of the people, particularly the poorer sections of the society.

Addressing the 10th convocation of King George’s Medical University (KGMU) at Lucknow, he said, ‘if the primary healthcare centres are strengthened, almost 85 per cent of the burden on the major institutes like All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and King George’s Medical University can be brought down.’ he added that the Government of India was working to bring about this change.

But the Government had, apparently, other priorities more pressing than the poor man’s health. A parliamentary panel report on health and family welfare released last year pointed out that in India there is just one government doctor for every 10,189 people, one government hospital bed for every 2,046 people and one State-run hospital for every 90,343 people. (Needless to say that most of these facilities are concentrated in urban areas.) With a doctor-patient population ratio worse than Vietnam, Algeria and Pakistan, the shortage of doctors is one of the biggest ailments afflicting the country’s health management system, the panel noted.

Meagre budgetary allocation for health services is the major factor affecting healthcare system, particularly in the rural and suburban areas. But more than that it is the mismanagement born out of indifference of the ruling classes that is plaguing the health delivery system. According to the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in his report on reproductive and child health under the National Rural Health Mission for the year ended March 2016, the picture that emerges in several States is one of inability to absorb the funds allocated, shortage of staff at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and district hospitals, lack of essential medicines, broken-down equipment and unfilled doctor vacancies. In the case of Uttar Pradesh, the CAG found that about 50 per cent of PHCs it audited did not have a doctor, while 13 States had significant levels of vacancies.

A serious effort in this direction has of late been made by the Delhi Government by opening ‘Mohalla Clinics’ for providing free primary healthcare services to the people in the capital. The effort has been lauded by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Annan wrote, ‘we understand that this initiative is proving very successful and we commend you on this impressive achievement.’ Annan wrote the letter in his capacity as the Chair of ‘The Elders’, an organisation of independent global leaders founded by anti-apartheid icon and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. Dr Kenneth E Thorpe, Chair of Department of Health Policy at the Rollins School of Public Health, USA, remarked after visiting ‘Mohalla Clinics’ during one of his visits to India that these Mohalla Clinics ‘are definitely an important addition to India’s health sector.’

Politicians in power and government servants mostly patronise private nursing homes even for minor and routine ailments. Services in government-run hospitals, dispensaries and health centres will improve substantially if the government stops, by enacting a law or by evolving a convention, reimbursement of expenses incurred by these classes on meeting their health needs in private nursing homes. But the health insurance programme enunciated in the budget is only meant to help further private operators because there is nothing the budget to strengthen Government-run hospitals and dispensaries.

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Dineshwar Sharma, Centre’s interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, reached Srinagar on November 6 on a five-day visit to the State in his quest for peace. Questions have been raised about his mission by opposition parties mainly on the ground that his domain and jurisdiction have not been clearly defined.

 

 

An observation of former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Dineshwar Sharma spotlights the contrary pulls in the Modi government on Kashmir problem. In an interview to The Hindu, he said that the ‘fear of guns has to go. There can be no solution under the shadow of the gun’.

Sharma was appointed on October 23 as a Special Representative by the Modi government to start a dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in a bid to find a solution to the persisting problem. The announcement was made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in pursuant to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech in which he had specifically pointed out that the Kashmir problem could not be resolved either by bullets or by abuses and that a solution could be found only by embracing them (Kashmiris). Modi’s observation was welcomed by all parties in the Valley including the moderate Hurriyat Conference.

However, two days after Rajnath Singh announced Sharma’s appointment as a Special Representative, Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat announced that the Army’s operations in Kashmir would continue ‘unabated’ in spite of the government’s attempt to have a dialogue with the stakeholders of the strife-torn State. Gen Rawat also said that the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma would have no impact on the Army’s activities in the Valley.

This was contrary to the Prime Minister’s promise of no bullets or abuses but embracing. Now the Modi government’s Special Representatives has specifically pointed out that the fear of guns has to go as there can be no solution under the shadow of the gun. Dineshwar Sharma may be the government’s emissary for exploring the ways to restore peace in the Valley but Gen Rawat’s threat cannot be just brushed aside inasmuch as he is supposed to enjoy full confidence of Modi. It was not the first time that he had issued a statement with political overtones; even earlier he had been issuing similar hawkish statements supposedly with the approval of Modi, or at least unchecked by him. No other Army Chief had in the past addressed press conferences and issued statements on issues which should be addressed by the political leadership. Once even a neighbouring country was constrained to ask if the Army Chief was expressing the views of the government.

A significant hint dineshwar Sharma dropped in his Hindu interview is that the present Kashmir problem started after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. He said: ‘when I became the IB chief in December 2014, Kashmir was not the problem….Kashmir became a problem during the latter part of my tenure. Though there were problems initially, we did not expect the kind of unrest that happened in 2016.’

BJP, and Narendra Modi as its leader, always viewed the Kashmiris with a suspicion and always believed that only the bullets can bring them to their senses. Ruthless suppression of trouble-makers was what was reportedly recommended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. This apparently boomeranged and the situation in Kashmir at one point appeared to have gone beyond control. Dineshwar Sharma’s candidly expressed views on the Kashmir problem give a hope that he may try to win the trust of Kashmiris in order to find a lasting solution to the problem. But will the BJP’s 65-year-old prejudices and Modi’s apparent support to army’s not so discreet operations allow him to complete his mission?


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Outright Perilous!

An egoist as the head of the government is bad enough. An egotist is a nuisance as his constant chant of I…, I…., I….. jars on the listeners’ years. But when he loses touch with the reality and starts believing his imaginary achievements to be his real achievements, that’s outright perilous.

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