Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ministers and Ex-Ministers

India must be the only place in the world where a guy who would have been a minister or a member of the local assembly for even one day would be able to generate quite a lot of clout and influence.

We have quite a lot of experience with this sort of thing.

2 incidents over the last one week.

The first one was a patient on whom wehad diagnosed astrocytoma. The relatives came to me for a letter requesting for some funds for treatment in a tertiary hospital, addressed to a local leader who was once upon a time a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) as well as minister at some point of time. I gave them a letter.

Couple of days later, the relatives were back. It seems that the leader’s secretary did not like the way I addressed the letter. I had addressed the letter to ‘Mr. XY, Former Minister/MLA’. It seems that the leader did not like that address. He had to be addressed as ‘Mr. XY, Minister and MLA in spite of the fact that it has been quite some time since he has seen has seen the corridors of power.

I did not have time to debate about the propriety of such an address in my letter. I gave a changed version of the letter as requested.

To my horror, the relatives were back again after couple of days. It seems that they got information that the leader to whom I wrote the letter did not have much of a clout these days as the state was in President’s rule. They wanted another letter to be addressed to another leader who thankfully happened to be a sitting Member of Parliament.

I was glad that I could remain true to my letter now.

The second incident occurred couple of days back. There was this young girl who was brought to us with a diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis with acute episodes on and off. I was not sure on what to do. I explained to the relatives that we would prefer that she goes to a higher centre.

The relatives promised to take her the next day to Ranchi.

But, I got a call in the evening that a minister wanted to talk to me. I went to the ward. I asked the girl’s father about who the minister was. He gave me one name. I told him that there should be no minister now considering into fact that the state was under President’s rule. He argued with me saying the name of the department the said minister was heading.

Soon, he was dialing a number. I was given the phone.

The transcript of the conversation –

Myself: Good evening, Mr. XYZ. What can I do for you?

‘Minister’: That fellow who has given the phone to you is either a fool or a lunatic. I wonder why I need to talk to you. Have a good evening, doctor’.

Myself: OK (Tthik hai).

I wished that I could tell the patient’s father the contents of the conversation.

It’s a pity that our political leadership has been using the poor to further their political ends and how illiteracy and ignorance are carefully safeguarded so that they remain in power.

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