Monday - 24 June 2024 - 6:37 AM

Make hay while the sun shines

Sudhir Kumar

Teachings and Preachings of ‘turning calamites into opportunities’  had different  shades altogether  until ‘we  the people’ explicitly changed the perspective and the meaning to our convenience, during the severity  of pandemic 2. It ultimately turned out to be proverbial ‘make hay while the sun shines’ in lieu, indeed.

We all were taught in our history texts  about  the catastrophe caused either by war or by natural calamities and the colossal sufferings of people aftermath. But with their immeasurable national spirit ,valiance  and perseverance, resurrected themselves instantly with exceptional strength & pride. This can truly be asserted as turning calamites into opportunities.

Tiny Japan, completely devastated, ruined and reduced to ashes after the  atomic attack and ignonimous defeat in world War 2, miraculously and most Valiantly rose to become a economic and technological superpower and a role model of development and lifestyle worldwide.

Similarly Germany’s indefatigable spirit to fight back after the most humiliating  defeat in WW II by the allied forces and indelible stigma heaped upon it due to holocaust of Jews by despot Hitler, too did geared up as nation and staged a respectable comeback. This has no parallel in world history. It deservedly became   strongest economy in Europe and a mechanical & automobile power to reckon with too.

Vietnam’s decade old fight with mighty  America and later’s most inglorious  exit speaks very high of Vietnamese endurance. Vietnam as on date is a  exceptionally  fast growing economy and  a tough competitors to China to become a manufacturing hub.

Jews holocaust, the darkest chapter in the  history of human being, did not deter them. And Jews unimaginably consolidated themselves and built a nation called Israel, a great military, intellectual, technological and scientific power. These are a few inimitable ones to quote but the list is endless.

‘We the people’ too have undergone  the worst ever catastrophe recently and witnessed  horrifying sufferings and miseries. The monster like Pandemic 2 was more fatal and deadly than ever before. But we the most innovating  & enterprising people staunchly believed in very inspirational ideology ‘make the hay while sun shines’ in letter & spirit. Much quoted colloquially ‘APDA  ME AVSAR’  was thus reinvented .

As the pandemic started spreading its pangs, leaders at all levels, whose presence and support would  have given great relief to crying masses, either disappeared or dissociated themselves. Large numbers of beds in Private hospitals were occupied by  proxy patients and the seriously ailing  were deprived of immediate medical aid and made to wait. Even large numbers of them breathed their last while waiting.

Private hospitals were alleged to be in collusion with rich and influential for obvious  reasons. Essential medicines were not available  in pharmacy. Most sought after remedisiver (6 jabs) did cost more than a lakh, which ought to have costed merely 5 – 6 thousands in normal course. Life saving Steroids like IGIV was available  through  backdoor on a whooping price of a few lakhs. Oxygen cylinders and concentrators became priceless. All rich and influential were on hoarding spree. Private Hospitals were unethically ruthless and charged exorbitantly. Abnormally inflated bills were even unaffordable to financially  well off, leave aside the plight of common people.

A doctor with PPE kits visiting all the patients of ICU/CCU did cost every patient Rs.5000/per visit, thus a PPE kit fetching a hospital more than a lakh. Charges of infusing plasma were arbitrarily  fixed. Besides, various unexplained  and ambiguous charges were levied.

So these unethical acts truly amounted to extortion. An informal  survey stated that average per day expense of a reasonably good hospital ranged anything between 50,000 to 75,000.Yet relatives/attendants were not briefed by the hospital staff regularly  about the conditions of patients and line of treatment undergoing and  even reported to be treated shabbily. All concerned were desperately on money minting spree.

Social media was abuzz with ads like setting up ICU at home and facilitating availability of skilled medical/ nursing staff. Charges were abnormally high and advance payment  was the pre condition. Much innocent and naive fallen prey to these fraudulent ads. Different medical  associations and like agencies were mute spectators. On the contrary it safeguarded the interests of private  hospitals, labs and diagnostic centres. AIIMS director advisory to avoid frequent CT SCAN did create a lot of ruckus and was vehemently opposed by the  various medical  associations.

Strong proponent of SWADESHI who proudly boasts of earning least profit, too were prompt in launching the already existing  products, repackaged and renamed, as immunity booster at exceedingly high price. The company is said to have made huge fortunes to the tune of few hundreds cores. Though it’s efficacy & medicinal values are not in public domain and yet to be asserted.

Bitter &  sordid tale begins after patient’s  death. Dead bodies were not released until pending  bills was  cleared. To identify and take charge of corpse in mortuary one had to grease the concerned. Ambulance costed abnormally high. The cremation ground with large numbers of burning pyres resembled a scene from a horror movie. Relatives waited for long for their turn. Jumping over the queue  had its own price.

Innovative marketing  skills were invented as package of  priest service to perform the last rites and other accessories like Coffin, wood were also available but obviously on much higher a price. Interestingly, one could hire a person to lend shoulder to dead, if it was not accompanied by sufficient  numbers of relatives, of course, it had its own fees.

Large numbers of sudden & unaccounted deaths and unaffordable cost of last rites compelled relatives to make them either flow in rivers or bury them on river bank. The ghastly scene of burning ghats, dead bodies flowing in rivers and hurriedly  buried dead bodies spoke poor of administrative management. The unthinkable was telecasted worldwide and our heads hanged in sheer shame.

Amid the prevailing gloom there was a ray of hope too. Large numbers of NGOs  and voluntry associations came forward to deliver necessary help. Setting up oxygen langars by local gurudwaras proved very helpful. Even temporary hospitals with ICU beds were arranged at convenient places. Free delivery of food to needy was a common feature. Ambulance services in large numbers were also made available. Services in cremation ground were regulated. But at first instance irreparable damage was done and dreadful memories are there to stay.

Active and timely participation  of administrative  machinery could have immensely  reduced the peril and saved many lives. Availability  of beds, medicines and oxygen cylinders needed to be meticulously  monitored. Services in cremation ground should have been  more organized and sufficient  supply of burning woods ensured. Random audit of hospital bills should have been conducted as regular  feature.


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We learn from  our mistakes and so does a society  or a nation. Crisis in any form emboldens an individual  and similarly calamities strengthens the national spirit. So time is ripe to introspect and to come forward to join hands to make our nation a role model. The nation has the unlimited potential. But the leader has to lead it to right path. Let’s swear to turn ‘calmaties into opportunities’ as above quoted  nations have proved and have shown the way.

Nation is not merely a geographical entity but ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ make a nation.

(Author is an independent  writer)

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