Should we not try to redress a Gravewrong the way we admire Greatbong?

August 5, 2006

It has been more than a year  since I started blogging and I can say without any hesitation that http://www.greatbong.net is my favorite blogger(read writer)Whatever be the issue, he never ceases to amuse and amaze with his inimitable style and dexterity with words. His post, “A letter from Andaman Cellular”(http://www.greatbong.net/2006/01/26/a-letter-from-andaman-cellular-jail/) is the best post I have come across so far.

Recently somebody told me that in India, only Khushwant Singh has been able to make a full time living as a writer which also corroborates the views of Shashi Tharoor, India’s representative at the United nations and an eminent novelist who stated frankly that “The full time writer is a rare breed anywhere”.

Hope Greatbong breaks the commercial blogging barrier in India if it ever happens. As far as I am concerned, like his recent post ,”Ek se bad kar do, do se bad kar teen”(http://greatbong.net/2006/08/01/ek-se-bhale-do-do-se-bhale-teen/) , his posts too are “Ek se bad kar ek” and I am an unabashed fan of his.

Though I cannot be amusing like him, there are certain hard facts that I find far from amusing. Recently, there was this case of the wrong leg being amputated in Rajasthan. The concerned doctor was rightfully rebuked by both the public and the media. The issue, however is whether you and me, the common man always gets such justice with any degree of consistency?

My father, while taking his mother to the hospital was advised rest and a checkup was forced on him because he looked emaciated. The bloodpressure did appear less than normal but he was advised to stay in the hospital for the night and a temporary packemaker was inserted in his body. Later, a permanant pacemaker was put in its place next morning. This entailed a lot of cost and till today, he is not sure whether or not this was required.

I myself sufffered from slipdisc five years back. I was advised surgery but since spine surgery is dicey, we thought better to take more than one opinion. All the three doctors adivsed surgery but two of them proactively asked me whether or not I had a medical insurance. The manner in which the question was mooted reeked of something amiss and what hurt more was that one of the doctors was known to me from before. However, I found a remedy in alternative medicine when some person in Sona near Delhi cured the slip disc without charging anything. He is kind of accupressurist who does this seva from 5 am to 11pm and I have seen all kinds of patients from Arthritis to severe paralytics there. He has cured five more people known to me and the very fact that he gets 500 people on Sundays is a testimony of his efficacy. I wonder at the plight of other patients who may not have been so lucky. Should not the mainstream media or blogging for that matter highlight such people and issues? Vipasana meditation cured my 15 year old insomnia problem forever which no doctor could and here too I payed through my nose to the doctors without acheiving a damn thing and the meditation cured the problem free of cost as that too is a voluntary service.

On the other hand, it is not uncommon to come across “professional doctors” who can really fleece. One of my friends told me once how his father’s friend, an opthalmologist had tried to cheat him. Another friend told me about how his father who was on his deathbed was overcharged for so many things in the hospital. A Delhi hospital has a notorious reputation as a business hospital and hearing about how some doctors seem to work in collusion with testing labs hardly raises eyebrows anymore. I once also heard about a commercial paediatrician of all things. Even children have  started being treated like commodities. How can a common “banda”(man) cope with such obnoxious, self serving “dhandha”(business in the guise of profession)? If I may add, since justice is delayed and andha(blind), to stop all this who can weild a danda(stick)?

One hears of some lawyers as a “remedy being worse than the disease” because of continuing to delay cases and some chartered accountants working in collusion with tax officials to the detriment of the clients. One can go on and on but what can an individual do in such a situation? Isn’t he totally helpless? The mainstream media cannot reach everywhere and a Jesicca Lall happens only once in a while and that too when things go out of control.

Blogging now is a potent symbol of the information revolution and mass communication and quite a powerful tool in the hands of the individual. Unfortunately in “Individual v/s Institution” the optimal results are achieved only by the “Unity is Strength”   syndrome just the way some people fight property issues against a builder collectively. Can something like the bloggerscombine which was formed recently to combat the bloggersblock or something similar be used for such purposes? This could be in collusion with the mainstream media at times  but should be done with great care since somebody’s reputation is at stake. This may seem far fetched currently just the way everybody laughed when CNN introduced the 24 hour channel first. Who knows how a medium may evolve in the future?

Its not for nothing that the chinese governement is scared of blogging and our legal system being what it is, “Why not actively use blogging as the alternatives are tantamount to slogging”  or to put it in a lighter vein and borrowing a tune from yesteryear’s fillm:-

Ding-a Dong, oh baby sing a song

If you like, read Greatbong

If you can,also redress a wrong

The individual has always drifted like ping-pong.

Blogging, if used effectively can make him King-kong

Since With blogging, we can throng( collectively)

Justice can be swift, why take long?  

Considering its potential, if not used effectively, blogging shall  be confined to entertainment or intellectual masturbation. I take this occasion to float my third blog- for those interested, it is “Cust-se-mar- Customer” . (http://custsemar.wordpress.com/)

(After writing this post, the best Tennis player in the local club told me how despite the approval by the Tennis Academy, the powers that be in the club continue to indulge in politics and  refuse to install lights at night to enable children to practice since in the morning they would get fatigued and not attend school properly.Why should my son’s future as a Tennis player be affected by all this and who wants to go to the long drawn procedures of the courts for all this? How is this different from Jesica lall’s murder- you are murdering somebody’s future.

Since the Tenant members are treated as second class citizens( this in Delhi, the capital of India), my father had to fight twice through the court to get his membership restored and I too got it after a long time. One really wishes there was a more practical and faster system for the indvidual. Panchayti Raj should highlight local issues- whether urban or rural and the mainstream media is also looking for stories- it could be a win-win situation for both- individual bloggers and the media- you scratch my back and I scratch yours but not in a derogatory sense) 



  1. u’ve got it right!! there are some people who are always ready to take advantage of other people’s danger. they should be taught a lesson

  2. Well said my friend. It is a truly sad state of affairs where making money is the greatest “value”. And health care is an area where you have rampant abuse with drug companies bribing doctors, doctors “treating” patients who do not need it and no recourse whatsoever for the guy whose life has been put at risk. The worst part is that media has more time to report on moles on celebrity butts but no time to talk about what really matters to the society. Really painful…

  3. Well before blogging can evolve into a meaningful medium in India the thing called the internet needs to spread and besides you and me have to blog in a 100 regional languages other than english for the blogs to make a modicum of sense to the teeming masses. Till then it is time-pass.

  4. A few years ago, a young man met with a bike accident in Kolkata and was brought by passers by to the Ruby general hospital nearby. The doctors put him on oxygen promptly, and asked for Rs.15000. They threatened to stop treatment if the amount wasn’t paid. The people said that they could pay only 5000 at the moment, but since the young man was evidently rich (as could be seen from his clothes and bike etc.), there would be no problem getting the rest of the money once his family could be informed. They even told the hospital authorities to keep the bike as security while they went to find his family. The doctors, however, removed the oxygen mask and told them to take the patient elsewhere. He died while being taken to another hospital.
    A court case followed after which the hospital was fined a small amount (Rs. 8 lakh) and let go. This is the society we are living in. These are our doctors. I’d rather prefer terrorists any day than doctors who can remove the oxygen mask from a patient. Terrorists at least don’t claim they are good.
    To prevent such incidents, the law has to be strict, the punishment brutal. But the public has to act responsibly by boycotting these doctors and hospitals. If they continue getting patients even after committing crimes, who is to be blamed?

  5. Good idea hiren. A collective to right such mistakes is good idea. Thing is, no one apart from net savvy individuals and I am not talking about software professionals care about what we bloggers are trying to say.

    When blogspot was blocked a few weeks ago, no one were concerned other than us bloggers. Others didnt even think that this was against our rights to speech. When will they learn?

  6. Excellently put and it is a fact. Let’s face it, how many of the people out there are quacks and ‘quota’ docs? And of the handful left, how many of them are really dedicated? Besides symptoms can be confusing and yup I think each and everyone of us has fallen prey to a wrong analysis…in my mum’s case she was in a grade c coma. Is there an organisation to redress such issues. Not in India, a collective effort would be a great idea. Also I am dead impressed about Vipasana curing your insomnia. I have been to Igatpuri and Dharamsala while treeking, visited the Vipasana centres, attended an orientation course but never mustered the guts to actually attend a course.

  7. I am a regular reader of Greatbong and he indeed has a natural style unique to him. Thanks for blogrolling me 🙂

    Our hospitals are fleece dens. I rarely go to a hospital and recently went to one for a jammed toe nail and was charged close to Rs 400/- for various things, when all they did was bandage my toe. I went to the hopital as my family doc had not yet opened the clinic. My colleague’s husband had a slipdisc with the same result as you. Then he went to another hospital, St Johns, the only reliable hopsital in Blr. They put him on Traction and he was right as rain in two days at practically no expense. We too have an alternate healer in Blr, who puts coins on crucial nerve endings and has cured many a back problems. Even Orthopeadicians with back problems go to him. It’s high time some kind of regulations are put in place for Allopathic Medical practise. Good post!

  8. p.s my pen name is ‘silverine’ 🙂

  9. I am honored and humbled at having my name as the title for a blog post as well as a subject of discussion in it.

    While doctors who induce gangrene and then cut off legs may be a rare cases (and I sincerely hope they are), the general callousness and mercenary nature of a significant section of our medical community is well-known. I had a friend of my mother’s who went to a renowned eye hospital in the South for a routine 10 minute proceedure and wound up dead. And the hospital in question waited a day to inform her husband of the fact, going totally incommunicado….trying to clean up their records.

  10. that is a good post. APart from kuswant singh there are quite a few writers who live by writing. they have not been much popular in western world but in the regional world.

    i am intersted with your writing

  11. Like every other section of our society, medical profession too has its share of bad doctors. The worse part is that a careless doctor can cost a life! I do recall a case of painful negligence myself, but then I also know many doctors (maybe because I come from a small town up in the hills, where you know almost every other doctor personally) who insist on natural remedies before taking any drastic action. Our society still has that little bit of human touch left, which perhaps makes some doctors look like life saving angels. Inevitable though it may be, more accountability will also increase the distance between a doctor and patient. Something unfortunate, but necessary, it seems.
    As for blogs, the effect they have is yet to be ascertained. You will agree, that bloggers form a very small section, and most of the time they are their own audience.

  12. All this at a time when the Medical Insurance racket is at a nascent stage in India….. wait for it to get much much worse…

  13. hmmm well said……the way these well known hospitals fleece people is quite common and the so called reputed south east del hospital….dont even releases dead bodies if u r not able to pay…..they even charge for white sheet……..its more of money making business…….
    ur point about bloggers coming together is true but it will take some time for blogging to become a mass media type segment to force a change……..

  14. wait a sec…all this while we having been cursing the docs…i M not aying that they are not to be blamed, but wat abt us??tell me when we need to produce fake medical certificates, where do we go?? we ourselves are giving encouragement as well as shelter to them..
    but yes, i agree that these people have forgotten their oaths they take at the time of joining their profession.which is a very sad thing.
    abt blogging, its something very new…people are still not aware of it!when we faced the block, I was all upset and all abt it…and my flatmates dint even know what blogging is, who had to be first informed as to what blogging is, then why i m sad and how the whole thing sucks!

  15. Firstly, thanks fr visiting my blog & for ur kind words too.

    These sorta docs….more of quacks. Once my hubby was suffering frm terrible mouth ulcers & hence I just checked with a well known acquaintance (ofcourse a doc) & he prescribed some tabs. Thankfully the pharmacist asked y I needed those tabs cos he said they were v,strong stomach ulcer tablets! Phew that was narrow!

    I also had a similar experience as a kid. Our usual doc diagnoised my throat infection as diptheria!

    We cant do away without docs….so how do we differentiate between the good & bad? At the cost of a life? Or risking for side effects? Feels like we are all scape goats.

  16. hmmm…make hay while the sun shines seems to be the mantra of the jing-bangs nowadays…humanity err wots that??…As pink floyd rightly said…
    Money..some may say ..is the root of all evil today!!
    good one dude..makes every1 think!!

  17. An excellent post Hiren.yes,we should definitely bring out such incidents of exploitation by the doctors,so that the justice is imparted in time 🙂

  18. nice recommendation.thanks.will stopby whenever i can

  19. Ya.. now, health has been commercialised and patients has been commodised.
    I have very bad experience, in one of the most premier institutions in chennai, namely the Apollo. I have been suffering from stomach cramp for four year, and still, no one has diagnosed correctly.
    I have already paid around 20,000 as consultation fees & for tests, and yet they keep on writing further tests to be taken.

    One doctor named, PRasanna kumar reddy, asked me take a CT scan of Abdomen. (i already took endoscopy, LFT, Blood Tests, Complete Medical checkup, etc.. and this is the one left). It costed me around 7000 and as usual, this test also came normal. I went to the doctor and showed the reports and asked whats the cause for my abdominal pain. He just said, he doesnt know, and i need to take “Capsule endoscopu”. For everyone’s info, this test costs around 25,000. I was shocked, and asked him, what would he do, if that test is also shows normal. He has no answer, and he said, i should first take the test.
    At last, i decided not to argue with him any more, & decided to leave. He didnt forget to ask his consultation fees. But I didnt pay him either.

  20. Hiren tnxx for stopping by!

    I’ll try to read him then 🙂


  21. You have given a very accurate picture of the current scenario. That’s why I am so apprehensive when visiting a doctor. Most of them are devil incarnate. They don’t hesitate to play with a human body and causing immense grief to the near and dear one, including the person involved.

  22. You are right. Greatbong makes a great reading.

    You have been tagged. Please check my blog for details.

  23. Your observations re: surgery in India for your DAD and your slip disc are eye revealing. I like reading your blog. Keep up the good work. It is very informative for people like me.

  24. Nicely put…

  25. Hmmmm…I am jumping to the aspect of the medical care….It sucks…An ex colleague told me tht when u go to a hospital for delivery, they ask u if u r going to pay or if insure does it for u…If u mention insurance, they do a c-section n thus my colleague never mentioned tht insurance is covering it initially! I have had bad experiences myself and I rather not think about it!

  26. hi,
    Thanks for keeping on coming to my blog.Hope you continue to encourage and comment. I did come here on many occassions. Also am a fan of Greatbong now thanks to you. you have got ver good grace in whatever you write. keep it up.

  27. Firstly, nice sweeping call to arms. And thanks for linking to some interesting blogs.

    Secondly, about those buggerall medics;-)You’ve touched upon a rather pressing problem that plagues Indian healthcare- the lack of an effective regulatory authority. There are reasonably effective bodies that regulate medical training- the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the National Board of Examinations (NBE). Both, and especially the first, are corrupt to varying degrees, but they function reasonably well, given our rather messy socio-political framework.

    The former is supposed to have some powers to regulate/discipline medical practitioners across the board, but these powers are poorly defined and even more poorly enforced. So, the bulk of the burden of regulation falls upon the State Medical Councils. Every doctor has to have a membership in a State Medical Council to be eligible to practice. However, they do not have to have one with the MCI.

    So, if you have a complaint, it should technically be addressed to the State Medical Council. However, they will actually do nothing. The best alternative is to go to the Consumer Protection Courts, which cover medical services. The are reasonably quick and effective, but this is subject to wide regional variation.

    As for complementary and alternative therapies (CAT), there is reasonable evidence that they do work in musculoskeletal disorders. However, the CAT sector has zilch regulation. Quacks abound. So watch your back.

    As for the blogger-call to arms, look at the Tsunami and Katrina blogs. So, it can work; but you definitely need to sink regional, personal and sundry other differences before you can channel this in a coherent and effective way. Chinese bloggers, as well as the left and right in the U.S have shown the way.

    So, Hiren, you lead:-) We’ll all follow. Seriously.

  28. Thanx 4 droppin by…

  29. It feels awful when doctors have to be looked at with suspicion..they are supposed to be the goodie goodie people in society..

  30. Hi buddy,

    Thanks for dropping your comments on my blog..Just wanted to know if I can add you in my Blogroll?

  31. I saw a reference of a place called Sona, where some gentleman cures slip disc. I am having this problem for last 2 years, can someone please provide me the contact details of this gentleman. I will greatly apprciate this.

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  33. […] Read the entire blog and comments by others on medical ethics […]

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