Monday, May 25, 2009

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

A halpless senior citizen walks into the OPD with a classical complaint of aches and pains all over.She has apparently been to the local ojha and has been told that a thief has entered her spine and needs to be chased out.How? I asked.She says it can be done in two ways-by kicking the back-side or by blowing some mantras into the spine-I thought the ojha sure had a sense of humour.
In the mean-time there is a silent revolution going on through the net,signature campaigns,etc to support Dr Binayak Sen’s cause.There are two sides to every story –so I understand, from the discussions from different forums,write-ups and opinions.I fully sympathise with Dr.Sen in the matter .I don’t agree with the naxal philosophy of declaring war against the state.I find it painful that in this day and age in India- voices of reason ,of concern ,voices that support the cause of the weak can be clamped down by state machinaries.Who is Dr.Binayak Sen ?What is his case?The government of India owes it’s citizens an explanation.
Going back to the issue of naxalism in Palaumu,I am told that the philosophy and this way of life became prevalent here in and around 1998.That is as recent as 10 years back.Why was this philosophy adopted by the people here so easily.You don’t have to be a genious to figure that out.Fifty years after independence and the state of Jharkhand which is supposed to be a rich state in terms of minerals and resources has been exploited to the hilt.
The villages here are primitive to say the least.It’s not fair to blame the naxallites alone for non-development of the area-what was the issue 10 years ago??Corruption,non-accountabilty,….There is a fall-out for every wrong –someone has to pay the price for it,sooner or later-we cannot wish the problem away-it will hit us in the face sometime .
It would be wrong on my part if I failed to mention I have been seeing glimmer of hope in the public sector in the recent past.
The government has been talking about NREGA and the loan waiver-I am referring to the NRHM ,since it is more in line with my area.The facilities are all there for people with the right intent.It gives me hope to see the sahiyas take up the cause of the villagers ,village health committees make their own health plans-this is happening in Satbarwa block of Palaumu.It wouldn’t have happened though.
When the whole project came through from the government ,the responsibility was hastily put through to an NGO who did a slip-shod job and had finished it in paper.
ARPAN project of Nav-jivan Hospital (EHA)started a parallel RCH project in the area funded by SIMAVI.The intent was to work with the government to strenghthen the NRHM project but the government had their own agenda and the responsibilities had been allocated to other NGOs.Frequenting the corridors of power in Ranchi to understand the whole process proved futile as we visited rows and rows of impotent bueurocrats who looked on helplessly apparently nailing the blame on the uncertain politics and the ministers concerned.
We didn’t meet the ministers .
ARPAN started from the scratch.The first step was to dig out the list of village health comittees and sahiyas the government had on paper.This done the next step was to inform the members.Needless to say that most of them had no idea about it or as to what VHC’s roles were.Sahiyas were slightly better informed .
The VHCs were next educated about their roles and responsibility.ARPAN got involved in helping the VHCs make a village health plan.’The village health plan made applications’ were put forward to the appropriate government departments.Another positive sign in all this was the fact that the government is acknowledging the role of NJH which gives me hope that their intent is right.My staffs inform me that there is a definite movement happening from the government’s side in spurts.What worries me is the culture of corruption which is so prevalent in the government hierarchy.
In the meantime the concept of sahiyas have picked up in a big way in the villages.If there is a sustained support given to the village functionaries ,if they are empowered and if the people involved can somehow inculcate a culture of accountability-I forsee the winds of change blow through these villages.
I take hope in the hope I see in the eyes of our field workers who sweat it out day and night to make that iota of difference even while they run with the aims and objectives of the project we run.I also take hope in the fact that the line they take now is not ‘nothing happens’ but ‘something is happening’.
Praise the lord!We serve Him- who takes up the cause of the weak..

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