Author: Saadut
•1:30 AM

In the Kashmir conflict where political groups, for the sake of their survival and continuity in power, would want the conflict to continue and simmer, accountability and fair governance always becomes a casualty. The state that should have ensured fair governance for mitigation of public issues to reduce the burden of a conflict misery uses the same conflict excuse to ensure nepotism and anarchy take over.  And as if the conflict war machine, with the tactic and silent approval of the same state, was not enough to kill people here, now the health sector has been handed over the baton of angel death. While some time back hundreds of infants were lost to in Kashmir’s sole pediatric hospital in Srinagar, most of them to lack of infrastructure, reported negligence and a drug cartel working in league with senior medical positions there, this year the supply of spurious medicines across government hospitals in Kashmir came to fore. Unlike the last time, during the death of infants, when mass protests on ground forced the government to react and promise some action (promises which remained as promises), there was not reaction from the political forces this time when the case of spurious drugs was exposed. Ironically power politicians who found time and space on social networks, to comment on IPL shirt colors and logos, assumed complete silence on the supply of fake drugs to government hospitals in Kashmir. Such being the self assumed higher ground of anarchy in the state. 

As if the silence of such politicians was not criminal enough, the Director of Health Services in Kashmir came with a shocker claiming “a few spurious medicines (to Kashmir hospitals) is nothing new as these cases have been happening and would continue to happen in future as well”. Not only did this statement reek of callousness but of professional indifference. While the senior official tried to downplay this ‘fake drugs scandal’ as limited to ‘a few spurious medicines’, there have been reports that from March 2012 to March 2013 a total of 43 samples of various drugs were found to be of substandard quality. Ironically the authorities have not bothered to take action against a single drug (of the 43 samples) even after that had been found of substandard quality. The ‘few spurious medicines’ that the senior health official talked about were antibiotics, that had been tested to have Zero % of claimed salt, hence proving not only to be totally ineffective but could have contained some other harmful ingredients, increasing the chances of fatalities among such patients. Was the senior health official here following the rule of ‘too little deaths are no deaths’ or ‘a few spurious medicines’ are no spurious medicines at all? Unfortunately deaths resulting from spurious drugs are uncounted and hence the numbers of lives lost here may never been known accurately. While a significant portion of counterfeit drugs do not contain any of the claimed salt or ingredient, they can alternatively contain chemicals or other substances which could be toxic and hence lethal. In some cases the spurious drugs may contain the claimed salt or ingredient but will not be present in prescribed quantities (often less), ensuring that the drugs are not only totally ineffective but also could alternatively cause fatal contra effects.  And since such spurious drugs are manufactured in ramshackle units they could often contain dangerously high levels of pathogenic bacteria or fungi further endangering the lives of patients. While none of these facts are lost on the political, bureaucratic and medical fraternity in the state, sadly none of this realization has helped curb this menace.

The extension of political anarchy using the conflict as an alibi, bifurcating regions into ‘ours’ and ‘others’ is evident from that fact that (as per DAK claims) these spurious drugs were supplied to Kashmir based hospitals only and not to Jammu hospitals. Did this point to a meticulous plan then? Would the political and bureaucratic powers not have been aware of this crime, even the possibility of them being in league here?  While all the facts pointed to a powerful web within this scam, the state found solace in maintaining a self assumed silence. Should the deaths due to these spurious drugs, that were supplied to a particular political and geographical unit only and by the active participation of political and official systems, not be treated as planned manslaughter amounting to murder? Would the reactions of the state not have been different had such heinous crimes been committed in a different political or geographic unit or outside Kashmir?

The political and bureaucratic state in Kashmir have always been treating itself as the ‘noble classes’ who have not only prospered at the misery of the common people but actively promoted the extension of such miseries. While the state pleads non availability of resources for overhauling the health system or to create mechanisms of accountability here, it has been lavishly spending on its power political elite and the common people in Kashmir have always been traded for bargains of despotism and political monarchy. Most political systems that would not survive in peace states, where common participation in democratic systems is mass and voluntary, resort of abuse of power and create conditions of nepotism and depravity, only to survive in this forced confusion of conflict. Such political states not only survive by mis-governance and apathy, having shred systems of accountability long back, they also cultivate layers of depravity; like medicinal practitioners being on the payrolls of medical drug cartels (who shower them with cash, kind gifts or travel deals) sufficiently insulated by the same system, or like state health institutions playing ball to spurious drug deals, and then pretending indifferent. Such a system also ensures that while vital utilities and life support services for common people are denied funds (claiming lack of it), the mansions, wheels and wings for political powers are never short of any funds. What resources infusion critical health services may feel a shortfall of, can find way for new travel machines for the political powers; the common people are just political numbers in a cultivated conflict.

And any voice that may talk against this turpitude, any person who may stand against this political debasement, is conveniently labeled as anti national and treated as seditious. And again the conflict alibi is used to treat such people as enemies of the state silencing their voices by forceful acts.

It is this governance nepotism and political leprosy that we need to heal first, in order to cascade this healing down to grassroots. 

16th March, 2013 ; 1:35 AM

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On May 1, 2013 at 2:43 PM , sofiaspace said...

It's wonderful to hear such a refreshing voice from Kashmir, I like your writing, keep up the good work.