Month: May 2006

Medical Strike: Misplaced Sympathies and Denial of Privilege

By Saswat Pattanayak I will call this the Princess Diana Syndrome. Remember that poor adorable princess who met an untimely death? The whole world just seemed to have lost this great soul who was so beautiful and could have changed everyone’s lives by posing alongside the orphans. Media everywhere from global to national to regional to local got hooked onto the image of Diana as the savior who was a victim (even if that meant that she was victim of media themselves!) To some extent the media houses blamed each other, the paparazzis and even the evil cash-rich boyfriend who was also some kind of a prince. The fairy tale ended with Diana. Or as much I thought. Until I started following the medical students in India. A country that recently underwent a historic blunder with a nuclear treaty, whose prime minister went on the stage to hail the colonial powers, whose farmers were reportedly committing suicides every passing day off unpaid debts, whose tribal people were being shot at by police brutally for absolutely …

Is Reservation a Solution?

Fellow readers and activists Satya and Rajesh have sent me via an email a response they had, to the issue of reservation, at the UMass., Amherst mailing list “Indian Manifesto”. I simply love everything they have to say here. And especially the way they end the note with: “One CANNOT reverse the arrow of time. In the last two decades, the lower castes are on the move and have been more influential than ever before, in determining national politics, distribution of power and resources, redefining culture, and the very texture of everyday life. That’s the greatest thing that has happened to India in the recent past. In fact, it is a more significant event in the history of Indian than even the independence struggle.” Absolutely a must-read!

Medicos Strike: Sick! Yuck! Rotten stench!

It should not be surprising to notice that just as the Indian economy is getting liberalized day after day, Indian society is growing regressive quite at the same pace. As an instance, we allowed private broadcasters to dominate television primetime. Once what used to be an instructional medium for a nascent republic, Doordarshan soon gave way to a television culture that heralded an era of perverse family-centric, monolithic, stereotyped middle-class squabbles. On another instance, India let go of its mission-centric national healthcare focus and allowed doctors to practice in private, for the rich, and to get paid by business trusts. In its latest instance, we allowed private education sphere to dictate the nation’s future, and the publicly funded institutions of learning that once strived to provide equal opportunity to all, soon succumbed to corporate norms of cut-throat competition and insecurity. It is possibly a combination of all three (and many more such) making a simultaneous movement ahead, that is making sure that the gap between the privileged and the dispossessed is maintained and fostered. At …

Medical Strikes: Revisiting few Elite Myths

Fellow reader Open to Discussion asks me some valid questions following my earlier post on the topic . I have decided to publish my answers here as well for more general readership. OD asks: 1. why so much of poison my dear friend? 2. no where in india were the rulers were brahmins entire UP and bihar had been ruled by Yadavs(OBC), rajasthan by jats (OBC), in tamil nadu all except Brahmins come under reserved cat, so some body amongst them must be ruler. 3. algebra questions are never asked in medical entrance!! u set any syllabus, it does not matter, toppers will remain toppers. for indigenous med, we have separate ayurvedic collages. there is no need to include it in allopathy I respond: Dear Open to Discussion: The reason behind my relatively long posts is that I explore the forest, not stick to trees. If you will read the entire post, it merely says that it’s a wrong thing for elite students to protest against possibility of equal opportunity for students who have been …

Madhusudan Das, Mahatma Gandhi and Manual Working Class

Gandhism and Leninism surely intersect at interesting crossroads. And they could be more pivotal than merely interesting. At the macro level they intersect at their common abhorrence towards militarism. At the micro level, they are one with the advocacy for community cooperatives. At both stages though, interests are similar: promote peace, for it is at this situation alone that cooperatives can exist. In every conceivable way, Gandhism and Leninism stressed on peace and cooperation because of their stress on workers’ welfare. The question which naturally arises then is, if Gandhi believed in social emancipation of working class who worked in cooperatives. The answer is clearly yes, but the methods he would have employed would be different, some of the arguments follow. But I feel, relating Gandhi to working class struggle is as moot a question as relating need of violence to further state’s interest in Stalinist Russia. I have always believed that Gandhi and Stalin (or you may say Lenin) both used the long-term goals of revolution as primary objective and immediate concerns as secondary. …