At a peak of repeated overdose of media sensationalism covering various facets of happenings around us, at times almost mimicking ‘self-flagellation’ though, the program ‘Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs) ’ of Bollywood icon Aamir Khan has the potential to be a ‘game changer’ in terms of transformation of mindset of ‘We the People of India’ towards ‘What we can do for the country’ and JUST NOT ‘What the country can do for us’.
As I see it, the show endeavors to instill a sense of introspection in the viewers’ mind providing relevant information and knowledge, especially when for misdeeds of all shades, hues and colors around our lives, we tend to instinctively blame others, positioning ourselves on the illusive high pedestal of probity and considering ourselves ‘Lilly-white’ …and just the victims of circumstances.
What made me aware of it?
Personally, I became aware of the show, when one of my good friends strongly recommended watching its ‘Episode 4′ titled, “Every Life Is Precious: Does Healthcare Need Healing?’ He in fact mailed me even the video link of the same. Thereafter, I collected similar video links for previous other episodes from the internet and was highly impressed with the sense of purpose of the program.
What did it want to achieve?
As far as I am concerned, I am quite convinced that this particular episode highlights that:
“People trust medical practitioners, believing that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to safeguard their health. But when this knowledge is misused to exploit this trust, medical care becomes a nightmare. The profession is riddled with unscrupulous doctors and hospitals out to make big bucks at the cost of patients, but there are still medical practitioners who stand up for the Hippocratic Oath, and those who want to clean up the profession.”
Dishonest acts in healthcare need to be opposed with courage:
In the program, Aamir Khan started by saying that that the episode was not about mistakes and negligence that a doctor may commit but about dishonest acts of some doctors, which were committed undoubtedly with equally dishonest intentions, amounting to fraud and a breach of trust between doctors and the patients.
The ‘Episode 4′ not only highlighted the deficiencies in the existing system related to medical ethics, but also issues pertaining to pricing of drugs, medical education and the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI).
Strong protests do not prove innocence:
Unfortunately, instead of appreciating the social transformation efforts of the program, many doctors reportedly protested against this particular episode.
I shall not be surprised, if some more protests from other quarters reach Aamir Khan in a different guise, even in the guise of seemingly support, especially from those who are perpetually in a denial mode stating: ‘what all were shown in the program are misguiding/misleading’, ‘you don’t know the facts/reality’, ‘what was shown is just half truth’, ‘our way is the right way’ and ‘we were not given a chance to express our views’.
However, as we all know that strong and venomous protests, even protests well concealed in the guise of support, do not prove innocence of the perpetrators, at all, though we all have a right to protest in our country.
In a protest credibility also matters:
A leading magazine of the country, ‘India Today’ in its August 25, 2011 edition titled ‘Address sick state of the health system’, reported in a different context:
“Among the multitude of people who flocked to the Ramlila grounds this week in support of the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare were some surprises. A delegation of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) met Hazare and extended support to his fight against corruption”.
“Subsequently branches of the association all over the country were told to organize candle light vigil and sit-ins against corruption. IMA is the largest professional body of Indian doctors and their support to the anti-graft movement should be taken seriously. After all, doctors are considered strong opinion makers in the society”.
“However, a careful look at the association’s past and its stand on the issue of corruption in medical community makes one wonder if IMA’s views on corruption have any value at all”, the report added.
Reports of protest on “Every Life Is Precious: Does Healthcare Need Healing?’ :
The daily newspaper ‘DNA’ in its June 2, 2012 issue reported, “Indian Medical Association asks Aamir Khan to apologize.”
The report elaborated that the Indian Medical Association demanded an immediate apology from Aamir Khan for having ‘defamed’ the medical profession in his TV show and warned him of legal action if he fails to comply with their demand.
Voices of sanity:
Being in unison with many other voices of sanity, against the demand of apology by the medical association, the lyricist and social activist Javed Akhtar reportedly had commented, “The Indian Medical association wants Aamir to apologize for exposing corruption in their profession. That is really sick.”
The Crusader remains unfazed against threats:
However, as reported by NDTV, Aamir Khan has refused to apologize and said, “I will not apologize to the doctors, I have not insulted the medical profession. Those doctors who indulge in unethical practices have defamed the profession, not me.”
Some other examples of ‘Medical Negligence’:
As reported by ‘Livemint (WSJ)’ in its May 15, 2012 edition, “Dozens of hospitals all over the country are ransacked each year by irate relatives and other ‘socially conscious’ citizens in an attempt to get back at alleged cases of medical malpractice. In many cases patients are crippled for life or even killed, and many of these cases may indeed involve instances of incompetence or malpractice. This does not in any way condone the violence, but then the victims have little recourse to justice or investigation”.
Highlighting similar medical negligence, ‘Times of India’ ‘ on October 22, 2011 reported that ‘The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC)’ on October 21, 2012 ordered a compensation amount of Rs 1.73 Crore to be paid to the US-based husband of a child psychologist who died in Mumbai due to medical negligence.
Very few doctors punished for Medical Malpractice:
Effective January 1, 2011, just 17 doctors from all over India were found guilty on account of Medical Negligence/Misconduct and received varying degree of punishment from the MCI.
It is worth noting, unlike other countries and despite all these maladies being faced by a common man reportedly on a daily basis, not a single erring doctor’s name has been removed permanently from the Indian Medical Register/State Medical Register by the MCI or any State Medical Council, since 2008?
Some very recently reported actions by MMC and MCI:
Meanwhile the news daily ‘DNA’ in its June 6, 2012 edition reported that for different errant behavior, so far, the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has sent show-cause notices to 31 doctors in the state and suspended registrations of five doctors.
Not so long ago to maintain desirable ethical standards within the Medical Profession, the notification of the Medical Council of India (MCI) dated December 10, 2009 amending the “Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics), Regulations 2002″ was also welcomed by concerned right thinking individuals including a large section of the medical profession.
Medical malpractice, of course, is not just an Indian issue. ‘The Wall Street Journal’ in an article titled, ‘How Other Countries Judge Malpractice’, published on June 30, 2009 reported that in his speech to the ‘American Medical Association’, President Barack Obama held out the tantalizing possibility of reforming medical malpractice law as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. health-care system.
With TV shows like ‘Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs)’, let us collectively move towards the day, transforming ourselves as the change agents, when all of us rich, middle-class or poor will live in a country where things will be quite different from what we are experiencing today.
Many erudite medical practitioners of our country who still stand up for the ‘Hippocratic Oath’, will expectedly take initiative to clean up their profession, being harsh on the ‘Black Sheep’, probably through stringent self-regulations, even if the MCI continues to keep its eyes closed.
Let us all conscientiously try to pave the way for that day, when despite socioeconomic disparity people from all strata of our society will be able to get quality healthcare, driven by competent regulators, socially conscious industry and above all the dedicated medical profession, who under ‘Hippocrates Oath’ will consider each life equally precious, taking their noble profession almost back to the earlier high pedestal of a ‘Human God’!.
Against the mighty power of rejuvenated human will, all concerned in the healthcare space, willy-nilly, hopefully will have to swallow the ‘Bitter Pill’, not just in India, but across the world, for the sake of humanity.
Let ‘Truth Alone Triumph’….‘Satyamev Jayate’.
By: Tapan J Ray
Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.