Children’s Hospital or Ministerial Residences?
What are the priorities of this political system?
JUNAID AZIM MATTU
The Valley’s only neonatal care hospital, as it turns out, has become a disguised butchery. With around 360 plus deaths in the last 5 months, the G. B. Pant Children’s Hospital in Srinagar has achieved the dubious distinction of a slaughterhouse. Our sick children have apparently been dying for lack of care and facilities while our Government has cut no corners in constructing and refurbishing ministerial and bureaucratic residences with the finest construction materials and interior furnishings known to man.
Various voices, both within and outside the system, have been crying hoarse about the plight of our only Children’s Hospital for the last so many years. A single trip to the G. B. Pant Hospital is enough to indict this and previous governments for criminal negligence and ruthless malfeasance. The last two decades have seen Kashmiris being deprived of basic governance while successive governments have been swimming neck deep in rampant and blatant corruption. The Children’s Hospital mess is just another heart rending example of how a certain section of our society has inflicted grave misery on a people who have, as it is, been at the receiving end of depravity and disempowerment.
Successive State Governments in J&K have spent hundreds of crores of rupees to construct and refurbish palatial Chief Minister Mansions. Be it Azad Sahab, Mufti Sahab or more recently Omar Sahab, our successive Chief Ministers have chosen to build huge, grand palaces for themselves while ordinary Kashmiris have been starved for healthcare, public services and infrastructure. Our Chief Minister turned Emperors live in the verdant lap of luxury. For them, the plight of sick, dying, unattended children at G. B. Pant is a reality that is stranger than fiction. If we compare the costs incurred by the Estates and Protocol department on the upkeep, protocol and residential services extended to our bureaucrats and ministers to the dismal spending on our Hospitals, Schools and Roads, we come face to face with a shocking, haunting revelation – we are all second class slaves in a system, in a polity that works for the interests of a select few.
Governments that deliberately choose not to equip our only Children’s Hospital with adequate ventilators, oxygen cylinders and incubators for so many years are legally liable for criminal negligence. If an accidental fire in a hospital elsewhere in India indicts the management and owners of the hospital for gross and criminal negligence, why can't 350 plus deaths in 5 months be enough for the judiciary to indict this administration for a bumbling failure to protect and save the lives of our young children?
Mufti Sahab gave Kashmir a renovated estate on Gupkar Road – renovated at a great cost to the tax-payers. Azad Sahab gave Kashmir a beautiful, breathtaking Tulip Garden. Omar Sahab gave this city another luxurious, royal residence constructed at a cost to the exchequer. Why did our three successive Chief Ministers so conveniently forget to give us ONE single Children’s Hospital where parents take their children for a hope of life, not an apprehension of death and negligence? Why have our politicians chosen to impersonate medieval emperors and dictators by prioritizing walls of china and castles over the succor and survival of our children?
The lack of ventilators at our hospitals is an immaculate metaphor for where our State lies today. Our nation is struggling and gasping for air on dilapidated ventilators as our policy makers are either too incompetent or too corrupt to take notice of our day-to-day struggle for a dignified survival. Our nation needs an urgent dialysis to filter our system for leadership impurities. We need to flush out our traditional politicians for they and they alone are responsible for our miseries. The sick need to become this nation’s doctors and treat it by throwing our garbage out.
When will, you might ask, Kashmiris get good hospitals and schools for their children and blossom in an atmosphere of dignity and prosperity? The day a government department shows as much efficiency and eagerness in procuring ventilators for our children as it does in clearing the gate for a CM’s residence at the excise toll booth. The day a Minister is as concerned about the quality of our schools and education as he is in ensuring his son passes an examination by hook or by crook. The day a Minister allocates half as much money he allegedly dished out to buy a villa in Dubai to construct a modern, well-equipped hospital in Kashmir. The day Kashmiris come out to vote for the interests of their nation, not for their individual interests. The day we say – ‘Enough is Enough’ and get our act straight as a people. That day is as near as it seems far as long as we remember that the first step is the longest leap.
(Junaid Azim Mattu is the Srinagar District President of Peoples’ Conference. Ideas expressed are personal. Feedback, interact at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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