Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why is there no outrage?

More than 359 babies have died in Srinagar's GB Pant hospital in five months. 35 newborns died in the last fortnight alone. This is the city’s only paediatric facility. Mind you we ain’t backward. We have two world-class golf courses in Srinagar. The grass at Royal Springs is of different shades with a famous par-3 fifth, professional 18 hall, par 72 track, besides comfort stations and massage parlours, not to speak of the ultra modern underground sprinkler irrigation. There are only three ventilator machines for more than 1700 patients in the nearby GB Pant. Must we cry or clap.

Newspaper reports quote over-worked doctors saying that asphyxiation has been the cause in almost 98 percent of the deaths reported in the hospital. It is no rocket science. The facility needs more ventilators and staff. Instead it will get red-tape and bureaucracy. It will almost immediately get a thick minister visiting the wards, expressing his sympathies with the bereaved families and praying for eternal peace for the departed souls. Departed souls: What a text-book mortuary tribute!

What about the infants who died? Isn’t it grossly unfair that babies must die in a tourist brochure state, where indigenous civil servants and government ministers outdo each other to be propaganda babies? Why should Kashmir’s lone paediatric hospital be allocated an annual budget of Rs 13 crore only? Some of the homes of senior bureaucrats and ministers cost more than that. Why, even chopper sorties to ferry the CM around (on non-holidaymaking trips) cost much more.

Indeed blame-hammers aren’t helpful when babies are dying in our hospitals for the lack of better infrastructure. But questions haunt: Just why do we need more tulips in the city gardens when we have no ventilators in Srinagar hospitals? Why is there no outrage? Why should the union health minister, a son of soil, not apologize? Why should heads not roll?

Why are we forced to cheer a million tourists when we should be mourning our inefficiency?

© Sameer
Follow @sameerft

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Noori and I

Kashmiri scientists recently cloned the world’s first Pashmina goat and named her ‘Noori’. Omar Abdullah, of local genus Shera (lion) – a very Kashmiri codification of our political creatures – visited the animal this morning. (Dropping by achievements has historically been classy. Next stop: traffic light at Lal Chowk) The CM got a few pictures taken with Noori in his lap and quickly shared the same on Twitter, captioned: Noori and Me. While puritans would say that ‘Noori and I’ would serve as the compound subject of a sentence and hence a better usage but there are no grammar-fags here. Let’s not get Omar’s goat.

A Bakra (goat) camp has also traditionally existed in Kashmir. The current head is the Mirwaiz in a short boxed beard. It appears that his flock is kicking at each other and not holding together. Apparently an ex Persian professor (who was fired as the Head of the Department of Persian at Baramulla College on charges of corruption in 1986) is bleating the loudest. The classified US embassy in India cables to the state department in the United States (made available by Wikileaks) thus describes the professor: Has little political following in the Valley and has been outside India only twice in his life, a visit to Kathmandu and Pakistan.

The professor, prone to wild gesticulation of hands when he speaks, is backed by Bilal Lone, whom the US embassy calls one of the "four musketeers”. Newspaper reports say that the Mirwaiz-Professor-Lone camp indulged in a verbal slang fest yesterday with Shabir Shah, who as per the confidential cables, regards many of the Hurriyat leaders as "Johnnie come latelies". The meeting to decide if UN is irrelevant or bedrock – to the K-issue, whether to truck with NC-PDP-Congress or go it alone, sadly ended in a lot of yelping and bleating.

Ex-RAW chief AS Dulat, who has loads of friends in Kashmir across the political spectrum and is seen as someone who makes very accurate predictions, like Michel de Nostradamus, recently soothsaid that Hurriyat will participate in the 2014 assembly elections in J&K. That is Hurriyat M (not G. The old man is worth a king's ransom and won’t budge). Omar added to the drama, yesterday by saying, well my dad is on record in the state assembly that if the Hurriyat leaders were ready to contest the elections, the assembly will be dissolved to facilitate their participation. The ping-pong never stops.

Meanwhile scientists at the animal biotechnology center of the Sher-e-Kashmir University who brought Noori into the world say that it could be another six months before the region delivers another clone. Already we have so many clones, one daresay. Why make more? Goats are some of the most curious and independent minded animals, as scientists and ordinary folk would agree. However they have a special characteristic: that of escaping their cages and pens. Goats often test fences, to spot a weakness in it, and escape at the first opportunity.

The honorable CM should hold that goat tight.

© Sameer