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A nation needs to look back to move forward: India should learn it from recent past

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India as a civilisation as well as a nation has faced numerous challenges. Invasion from foreign powers as a result of lack of cohesion amongst the native rulers – hampered the “idea of India”. So weak was the bond that many scholars world over believed post-independence India would Balkanise.

Integration of Princely states was the very first challenge to the idea of India. Sturdy efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel ensured accession of more than 500 Princely states to the union of India. However, India as a territorial interpretation is strong today, barring the skirmishes on the northern borders.

Subsequently in the early years of independence, the Republic faced another threat to its unity. This time in the form of reorganisation of states on linguistic basis. From 14 to 28 states, demands of the people were met without compromising with our international borders.

After two decades of freedom we faced yet another crisis – this time of feeding our population. It was a gigantic challenge. India had to import PL – 480 or food for peace under an agreement with USA. From then on India embarked on a journey to become self-sufficient.

Today India ranks second in the world agriculture production (1). India is not just a food secured nation, but a surplus producer of various agricultural commodities like sugar. The Green Revolution helped the country achieve this feat.

The 1975 emergency often called “Black spot” in India’s democracy. It was a time when Government of India (GoI) was pitched against Indians from all walks of life – opposition members, students, families. Just when the world powers began to think of an eminent fall. 1977 elections and the peaceful transition of power restored the faith in democratic India.

Beginning with the launch of sounding rockets from Thumba which marked the formal start of India’s space programme to placing 104 satellites in the orbit in a single launch exemplify India’s resolve in space science.

In a nation where organising population of 1.3 billion is a complex task. In 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) declared this nation of 1.3 billion, “Polio-Free”. It was a long, very long journey, but it reached its determined destination.

Today as the country faces a faceless challenge. We must not forget our challenges of the past. Past is the biggest teacher for present and future. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc the world over. A few months ago, India was reeling under an unprecedented health crisis, leaving rarely any family untouched. People lost their lives less to COVID-19, but to lack of health infrastructure and lack of coordination and management.

While the situation has normalised, the lessons must not be forgotten and be taken as an opportunity in disguise. These lessons should be the building blocks of our system. Past can lead us to future victory.

While India aims to achieve various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) well before the deadline. We must show similar spirit in maintenance of our health infrastructure.

Short Term Measures

  1. Even if we create the required health infrastructure, as is being done, it would be of less use if there are not sufficient doctors.
    Government must contemplate on getting a team of doctors from other countries.
  2. While the numeric of COVID-19 deaths are well known. Significant deaths due to diseases or health problems other than COVID-19, due to lack of treatment remain unreported or under-reported.
    Indian leaders had a chance to lead by example b lending the lawns of their homes in lutyens zone or even their vacant properties elsewhere to be utilised for treating non-COVID patients who are facing interruption in their regular but crucial treatment.

Long Term Measures

  1. India’s doctor patient ratio is dismal to what WHO recommends. The union government’s bridge-courses for students of sciences to provide first care and basic treatment must be taken forward. Indian Medical Association (IMA) instead of maintaining the allopathy monopoly, should be willing to soften its stand on this scheme in the broader interest and especially after looking at the recent gloomy situation.
  2. Ministry of AYUSH should continue to rejuvenate indigenous medical practices and provide such practitioners a platform to provide their services.
  3. Admission should not be denied , except for lack of the required facility in the hospital, for which recommendation of nearby hospital equipped with the same facility be provided to the patient/patient’s family.
  4. A list of equipment available in each and every hospital be made diligently. Essential/life-saving equipment should be available in every hospital. Other major equipments that are expensive, but equally important should be made available in atleast one hospital in 1km to 5 km range.

Various national policies drafted must also be implemented within specific time frame.
Just as Swami Vivekananda said, “knowledge unaccompanied by action is useless”, similarly policies are, sans execution.

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