Tag: Lewissa

Mamatas remedy

first_imgThe recently concluded strike by West Bengal doctors had many unusual features to it. There is nothing new in irate relatives of patients attacking doctors. Such outbursts keep occurring regularly in different parts of the country. There is nothing new in the affected doctors going on strikes demanding better protection either. What is new this time is the larger political dimension the entire issue assumed in West Bengal. Even as the state was being rocked by post-poll violence with BJP being on the offensive, the ruling party at the Centre opened a new front. When the junior doctors in the state went on a flash strike to protest against serious attack on two of their colleagues by the unruly relatives of a patient who died at NRS Medical College and Hospital on 10 June 2019, BJP saw an opportunity to fish in the troubled waters. The ruling powers at the Centre swung into action. Also Read – A special kind of bondThen something hitherto unheard of happened. On June 13, 2019, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) called for a four-day nationwide protest including a one-day all-India solidarity strike on June 17. On the morning of June 14, meetings were arranged between Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and no less than half a dozen doctors’ associations in Delhi, where they complained to him about attacks on two of their colleagues in Kolkata. In a highly controversial move, on June 15, while writing a letter to all chief ministers about beefing up security to doctors, Harsh Vardhan also circulated an old 2017 Bill titled Draft Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017 as a model bill of sorts. The Bill, however, had been drafted by the IMA and not by the Union Health Ministry, and it prescribed ten years of rigorous punishment to those who assault doctors, almost considering them at par with murderers, and the Bill had not been vetted by the Union Law Ministry or approved by the Cabinet! Also Read – Insider threat managementIn another unusual gesture, the Union Home Ministry under BJP strongman Amit Shah sought reports from the West Bengal government not only about the general political violence in the state but also specifically on the attack on these two doctors. In an equally unusual gesture, on June 15, the AIIMS Doctors’ Association, known to be loyal to Harsh Vardhan, gave a two-day media “ultimatum” to the West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee though they were at a loss to explain what the ultimatum was about. On June 17, from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad, and from Lucknow to Patna, and in Pondicherry and Chandigarh, tens of thousands of doctors went on a strike. In yet another surprise development, the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat stooped down to the level of a mofussil politician and criticised Mamata personally for the doctors’ strike while addressing the concluding session of a training programme for RSS volunteers at Nagpur on June 17. Are the assaults on doctors by patients’ relatives too widespread and is the entire medical community too incensed to go on a spontaneous strike in solidarity with the striking West Bengal doctors? Is the issue really so serious at all parts of the country that it was snowballing into a major all-India media and political issue? No, not at all! The local IMA chapters and BJP wings among the doctors took care to explain to doctors that there would be no action as the strike enjoyed the indirect support of BJP governments. In this sense, it was an engineered strike. But the dramatic anti-climax happened in Kolkata that day. Mamata Banerjee, sensing the BJP’s larger plan, invited doctors for talks on June 17. Being a consummate political communicator, she even accepted their precondition for live-streaming the meeting. On June 17, the day of the all-India strike, she met with an unusually large delegation of two representatives each from more than 30 hospitals, and in the meeting, she assured them of full protection and accepted almost all their demands. Meanwhile, pressure and public criticism were also mounting against doctors and one patient even died in Malda allegedly in the absence of timely medical attention. The young doctors were not carried away by the unexpected new-found all-India support from BJP but withdrew their strike. BJP, which had hoped to further rake up the issue against Mamata, ended up with egg on its face! The high-point of Mamata’s agreement with doctors was the establishment of complaint redressal cell in each hospital, a sensible institutional option which patients can use to take up their grievances instead of resorting to blind physical violence against doctors. Mamata also directed the police chief to appoint nodal officers to oversee security arrangements for doctors in each hospital, who would be answerable for that. These were the most practical and sensible solutions to the vexing issue. Regarding legislative protection to doctors, Tamil Nadu had already passed an act in 2018 called Tamil Nadu Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act, 2008, that made any act of violence against any medical personnel or institution a cognizable non-bailable offence and prescribed imprisonment for a term not less than three years but which may extend to ten years with fine. This itself was called too stringent by rights groups which feared its misuse against poor people and nobody has been punished under it though and there has been no review of its functioning by the Centre either. Instead of proceeding in that direction and drafting a realistic Bill at the ministerial level after consulting the Law Ministry, Harsh Vardhan thought it fit to circulate an unofficial Bill prepared by the IMA that made a mockery of criminal jurisprudence and the principle of proportionality. The young doctors of Bengal remained stuck to their professional concerns and failed to walk into the trap of political manipulation. Mamata Banerjee also outsmarted the BJP in their own political gameplan. (The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

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Alberta premier sensed shift in Keystone XL discussions with US State Department

WASHINGTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she senses a shift in discussions with some U.S. government officials about the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.After her fifth trip to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to lobby for the project, Redford says some people there are starting to appreciate that shipping bitumen by rail generates more greenhouse gases than shipping it by pipeline.Redford says she met with U.S. State department officials as well as members of Congress and the Senate and the talks went very well.She says she continued to promote Alberta’s environmental record, including carbon capture and storage projects and new land use policies.Some Americans say the Keystone XL pipeline would reduce U.S. reliance on crude imports from unfriendly countries and create jobs, but others argue the environmental risks are too high.TransCanada Corp. filed its Keystone XL proposal more than five years ago and expects a decision will be made soon.“I actually feel that the discussion that I have been able to have with people, some of whom I have met before who are following this closely and some who I have met for the first time, leads me to believe that people are really fully seized with these issues, have understood the discussion that we have been trying to have out of Alberta and that it is going very well,” she said Tuesday.The US$5.4-billion Keystone project would ship bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.Redford suggested she was encouraged by the discussions in the U.S. capital about shipping crude derived from the oil sands by pipeline versus by rail.“A lot of that product is being transported by rail at the moment, and that is something that is receiving quite a bit of attention in the United States, partly because we know that transportation by rail leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions than a pipeline would,” Redford said.Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty talked about oil pipelines, including Keystone XL, in front of a business crowd in Edmonton Tuesday.“I was in Texas the other week and I can tell you the support for the Keystone pipeline is huge,” he said.“I am hopeful that the sensible course will be followed.”Flaherty touted the three options for shipping oil to port through Canada as well — west through the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, north to the port of Churchill, Man., by rail and east to New Brunswick by pipeline.“I think we should do them all, personally. This is the future of the country — it’s long term. I think we should move on all fronts.” he said. “We need to do something.”© Thomson Reuters 2013 read more

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