27 April 2006

Sanjoy sitting near Sri Jual Oram, Member of Parliament from Sundargarh during a health camp in the later's village. Sitting with them are 3 more doctors from IGH who took active part in the health camp.

Hilly terrain of Nainital photographed by Sanjoy.

22 April 2006

Gandhi Darshan - A Short Story by my father

By Basanta Kumar Satpathy

It was 1934. An earthquake had then recently rocked and devastated Bihar. Gandhi's declaration that the practice of untouchability is the root cause of this natural calamity baffled the masses. Why did the Almighty single out Bihar when the whole of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari practiced the evil? Surely, the statement was a piece of Gandhian darshan that was beyond the masses. Still, they craved for a darshan of the Mahatma, especially the people of Orissa, yet to be carved out as a separate province. First, Gandhi was deeply touched by the poverty of Orissa, and loved Oriyas. Besides, unlike the people of other regions, Oriyas did not often get a chance to see him.

Since educational institutions were administered from Patna, the calamity meant that the examinations had to be postponed from February to June. Now it was May. A few of us were waiting for that fateful month, sweating out the sweltering heat and humidity of a Cuttack mid-summer.

Around this time, news spread that Gandhi was to pass through Cuttack on his way to Puri. He would be travelling from Anugul by the train from Talcher. In those days, one often heard of Dhenkanal and Talcher in Cuttack. After all, servants, coolies, laborers, and rickshaw-pullers came to the only city of Orissa from those two rural areas; just as nowadays, dhobis, hoteliers and rickshaw-pullers hail from down south. This was an excellent opportunity for the people of Cuttack to catch a glimpse of the great man. For their enthusiasm for a darshan of the Mahatma was as great as ever. It was, however, not easy for them to realize their dream.

My case was even worse. After all, five years previously, my high school headmaster had punished me for having plotted a protest march against Gandhi's arrest. In a poem entitled Janmasthami I had portrayed the Britisher as Kamsa; and the hand-printed magazine carrying the poem was confiscated. I had also been an eyewitness to the merciless beating up of a few Gandhian protesters, who, by lying on the road, were trying to stop the bullock cart carrying British clothes. The pan-shop walla, who tried to nourish one of the hapless victims by offering him a glass of water, was also beaten up mercilessly. This was the high noon of the British Empire, on which the sun never set. Would the school authorities be ignorant of the fact that Gandhi was passing by? If they ignored our attempts to catch a glimpse of the biggest threat to the Empire, might it not harm their own position? Yet, since time immemorial, school and college students have derived great pleasure by hoodwinking the authorities. Sometimes they have also become famous by doing so.

It was almost eight o' clock in the evening. About two-hundred-odd people had gathered in the dimly lit platform boasting of three lanterns. A loud cheer greeted the pealing third bell. As the train puffed into the platform, there was even a louder cheer. The enthusiastic crowd ran helter-skelter even before the train came to a halt. Presently, they gathered round a particular third class coach through one the windows of which Gandhi's serene face emerged to the chorus of Gandhiji ki jai! Far from being pleased with the reception, Gandhiji issued a stern rebuke: The shastras prohibit the making of noise at night. A hush descended on the platform. No one has the right to break the silence of the night, he added.

Since his face was indistinct in the pale light, someone held up a lantern, tied to a lathi, close to Gandhi's face. The Mahatma seemed unperturbed by the soot and the stink from the kerosene flame. He said:

I am going to Puri to eradicate untouchability. On my way back I shall again pass through Cuttack. Now I am raising funds for the Harijans. Oriyas are very poor. I do not expect big donations from them. The smallest denomination will count. So saying, he held out his long hand. That animated the crowd to such an extent that the delicately balanced lantern crashed. Volunteers cleared the mess.

I noticed that people enthusiastically took out whatever moneys they had, and pushed them into Gandhiji's hand. While doing so, they ran their hand over his arm, as if they were touching God. Not to be left behind, I lunged forward. But to my utter dismay, I realized that my pockets were empty.

I ran for my life, heading straight towards my hostel nearby. On the way, I bumped into my friend, and borrowing some coins from him, sprinted back to the station. The big toe of my right foot hit a stone. Undeterred, I ran on. When I reached the station, I saw to my utter relief that the train was still there, as was Gandhiji's outstretched hand; only the signal had turned green. Breathless, I put the borrowed coins in Gandhiji's huge hands, and ran my hand over his long arm. What an exhilarating experience! It was no different from the feeling that an earlier darshan and touch of Lord Jagannath of Puri had induced in me.

Back in the hostel, and still in a daze, I washed my feet. It was then that I noticed my blood-smeared foot, with the big toe bleeding profusely. All of a sudden, an acute pain gripped me. Yet, the damage had been done a while ago. Why had I not felt it for so long? I wondered. It dawned on me then that the mind controlled the body. Whether love was divine or human, a mind in love never succumbs to the command of the body. When inspired by an ideal, man is free from bodily pain.

My wound healed, but the split toenail was now a permanent mark. Later in life, whenever anyone asked me about it, I would retell the story, my face would make it abundantly clear that on each retelling I relived the original moments of bliss.

Almost a week passed. Gandhiji had promised to return to Cuttack. All kinds of news kept trickling in about his movements: That the old man and his wife had a tiff over Kasturba's visit to lord Jagannath, without obtaining Gandhi's permission. Consequently, he had refused to go for a darshan himself. The padajatra, or march which had then started from Puri resulted in Mirabehn getting blisters on her feet. However, she continued to walk with her bandaged feet. There was also the news about how a Hindu fundamentalist, one Pandit Lalanath, representing the Hindu Mahasabha, had been dogging Gandhi.

It was the 16th of May. Gandhi had reached Kajipatna, where a girl had presented a memento to him along with her gold bangles. By sundown he was expected to reach Cuttack, and on arrival he would speak at a rally on the sandy banks of the river Kathjodi. To me this meant another opportunity to have yet another darshan of Gandhi. Far from healing, the bandaged wound on my big toe had turned septic. Yet I had reached the sands by 4.30 in the afternoon. The cool water in the river weakened the pinch of the strong sun.

The arrangements for the rally were nondescript. One or two desks had been placed in a half-hazard manner. Long ropes had been tied to demarcate separate spaces for men and women. An audience of no more than 2 to 3 hundred people had gathered together for the occasion. At close proximity lay the lean and shallow river kathjodi; there at a distant stood the blue Naraj hill; and not so far off shone bunches of arakh flowers on an islet.

The sun was beginning to mellow. Everyone's attention was turned towards Kajipatna. Suddenly a small group of people appeared at a distance, as they descended from the low embankment down a fair-weather footpath, and on to the riverbed. As they came closer, one could notice a palm-leaf umbrella, and close to it, strode the unmistakable figure of Gandhiji. One could easily recognize him even from a distance. When on his padayatra, he walked with distinct, measured and rhythmic strides like a child. He reached the venue of the rally in about fifteen minutes. As Gandhi sat on one of the tables, crossing his legs, and leant against one of his hands, he looked exactly the same as we had seen him in pictures. He began by saying, "One has to take the name of God before embarking on every single good act." Hardly had he uttered these words when the whole lifeless atmosphere was electrified. By then the sun god had come down to touch the Naraj peak. The cool Kathjodi breeze had started blowing ever so gently. In unison with the breeze, Gandhi went on to recite in feminine voice some verse slokas from the second chapter of the Gita, highlighting the immortality of the soul and the triumph of the spirit. At once an ambience betokening the aura that surrounds a hermit's hut was created. Rarely has one experience such thrill as that in one's life. After the prayer, Gandhi spoke briefly on the subject of untouchability. More than the subject, his manner of speaking kept everyone enthralled. As soon as he finished speaking, the volunteers went around with outstretched pieces of cloth collecting donations. Everyone was surprised to see so much money being collected so soon in such times of scarcity. In those days there was nothing that people wouldn't give to Gandhi.

At the end of this, Gandhi said, "Pandit Lalanath had sought my permission to speak at today's rally. I have given him permission. I hope you will listen to him as quietly as you did me. He will be here any time." Truly enough, we could see at a distance the fundamentalist Pandit Lalanath, with a tonsured head, advancing with a bunch of his followers. They were busy doing some sankirtan as they walked. Some of them were carrying black flags, earthen pots painted with black and white marks, stubs of broomsticks stuck to sticks, and dancing to the tune of the kirtan. What strange religion! What cacophony! What weird excitement!

Panditji had barely reached the venue with his followers when the crowd advanced menacingly towards them and pelted whatever came handy, including fistfuls of sand, at them. In a moment they had broken all the earthen pots, and completely dispersed the motley group. Even Pandit Lalanath was nowhere to be seen. Gandhiji was quite perturbed. He asked the volunteers to fetch Panditji respectfully to the venue. In fact, he himself escorted back Panditji, and seating him, dusted and cleaned his eyes and face, and put him at ease. Then, addressing the crowd, he said, "In spite of my prior request, you have insulted our guest and thereby committed a grievous offence. Therefore, I am begging forgiveness of God on your behalf." I was reminded of the Bible: "Oh Father! Pardon these men. They know not what they are doing!"

Presently, Pandit Lalanath raised his hands, and in shrill voice sang the glory of Sanatan dharma. We had thought that Gandhi had committed the same mistake that Brutus had committed by allowing Antony to speak. But neither Pandit Lalanath's oration nor his argument touched anyone. Rather his extremist rhetoric irritated everyone. The rally ended at dusk. Dumbstruck, we saw Gandhi and Lalanath walking together shoulder to shoulder, towards Cuttack. Love your enemy; respect an opposite point of view; atone for someone else's sin: We saw in our own eyes the practical application of all these principles and precepts.

Fourteen years later. The dismembered nation had won freedom. I was visiting Delhi on some official duty. I thought it proper to visit the sacred alter where the light of Indian life was extinguished, and where the heart of humanity had stopped beating, before visiting the Gandhi memorial at Rajghat.

The prayer platform was located on the lawns not far from the Birla Bhavan. Iswar Allah Tere Naam together with Na Hanyate Hanyamane Sarire: How many times these lines may not have been chanted from here!

An eyewitness, acting as the guide, was recounting the sequence of events that fateful evening. I was witnessing those very heart-rending scenes in my mind's eye. Like the rally on the Kathjodi sands, that day a few hundred people had gathered together waiting for the Mahatma. The clock at the Birla Bhavan struck five. They were wondering why Gandhi's arrival had been delayed by some five or ten minutes. Gandhi was seldom late. How would they know that Gandhiji was busy discussing some serious matter with Sardar Patel. At long last, Gandhi could be seen emerging from the room, using Manu and Abha as his walking sticks. Someone told him that two people had come from Kathiabar to see him. Gandhiji said, "Ask them to see me after the prayer meeting. If I am alive till then we shall meet." Then, with a smile, he told his grand daughter, Abha in jest, "You gave me such a lot of radices in the afternoon. They are cattle fodder. I seem to be fond of what other people reject. Don�t I?" By the time he reached the platform, all this banter had stopped. With a haloed look on his face, the Mahatma climbed the altar. Gently bowing, people made way for him up to his seat. They expressed gratitude to God for having been able to set sight on that sacred body, purified after years of prayer, fasting and penance. In an attempt to reciprocate their obeisance, he removed his hands from Manu and Abha and was about to fold them, when the agent of Saitan: Lalanath, Jara, Nathuram or Iscariot rushed towards him from south, and flung Manu's hands and standing before Gandhi, he bowed in folded hands, and in a moment echoes could be heard of three bullet shots on the wall of that very room on which only a few days earlier bombs had been dropped.

People who were in Gandhi's close proximity perhaps heard the essence of all his prayers, Hey Ram or Ram, Ram.

Those who had come too late for a darshan, must have smeared on their forehead the blood-soaked dust and soil, gathered from the very spot where the Mahatma had sacrificed himself, and unfurled the flag of nonviolence in the very presence of the monster of violence. They must have returned home feeling blessed for being his proud progeny. As for myself, I gathered a speck of dust, mixed in the blood of that very holy man, by touching whose hands I had felt so blessed myself some years ago.

Translated from Oriya by Sumanyu Satpathy

The late Basanta Kumar Satpathy was an eminent short story writer of Orissa. Born in 1913 at a remote village in the princely state of Mayurbhanj, Orissa he worked with the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj, after completing his studies from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, then under Patna University. An MA in English, he had firsthand experience of life during the political turbulence of his time: the freedom struggle, led by Gandhi, the Second World War, the formation of the Orissa State, 1947, its aftermath, including Gandhi's assassination, and the reorganization of the States. He led a delegation to Delhi to plead unsuccessfully with Sardar Patel for the autonomy of Mayurbhanj. After the merger of Mayurbhanj he became a full time lecturer in English, but wrote extensively in Oriya. His autobiography, Manepade (I Remember), is due to appear later this year. A great admirer of Fakir Mohan Senapati's writing, he followed in his footsteps, taking to writing late in life. He wrote mostly short stories, but also translated and adapted plays. He won numerous prestigious literary awards of Orissa, including the Orissa Sahitya Akademi award. He died in 1994.
Sumanyu Satpathy teaches English at the University of Delhi

14 April 2006

Helping Hand!!

?Three brothers and sister take these goods in a ricksaw to a temporary shop where the father of these children will go to make a livelihood for the family.Is it child labour? How can helping one's father be said child labour? Look at the smile on the faces of these children from a poor family which is a rare thing with children from rich family due to pressure of education who hardly ever experience the charm of childhood.


09 April 2006

Health service and role of Ispat general hospital in western Orissa

Why doctors and hospitals are the prime area of dissatisfaction by press and society?

There is moral and ethical deterioration in every field of life, so how this particular branch will escape? In India specially the health care sector has been neglected by different Government over last fifty years. You may be surprised to know that India�s health care budget was the lowest(until recently) amongst developing countries.With quote , reservation policy and no accountability the health care system has taken a back seat.

The majority of the best medical graduates leave the country , rest join private or corporate sectors,others if selected join AIIMS or universities, rest join public sector under takings, others who have no other choice, have no political or money power join in state Govt. service.The instruments allotted to peripheral hospitals are not utilized or due to poor maintance they become defunct within short time. No other sector deals directly with public life ,so any mishap create a public outrage. As such the tolerance level of people has come down, expectations are too much, doctors are too much money minded , the concept of human service as a medical professional has taken a nasty turn. So all these factors has resulted in attack on medical professionals in India.

Coming to IGH and its services.

Other departments ie. Finance, town administration etc. the file closes once the employee retires or takes VR or resigns or dies, but in medical it�s different , it�s the beginning as most people come for health aid after this age.

The desire to live by aging persons suffering from multiple non communicable diseases puts an extra burden on hospitals and doctors. Sons and daughters who don�t stay with the aging parents have high expections from medical care because they think money can buy every thing.

Seventy percent of Rourkela steel plant employees are staying back in Rourkela except a few south Indians. The main reason being free medical facilities, compact town ship, reasonably good water and electicity supply, good law and order situation. Mostly it�s a town of middle class people . Except steel plant there is nothing at Rourkela but still then it�s a vibrant city.

Like a conveyer belt ,if a sick person is brought to IGH with or without money he or she is admitted through casualty. Some times patients are admitted to ICU before the relatives know about it!

Who says IGH has detoriated? Yes . It� on decline. Company�s policy of VR and transfer of man power has resulted in less man power in IGH where as the number of patients coming to this hospital has not come down. Due to quick diagnosis and discharge the bed occupancy is better than what it was some ten years back.

Why newly recruited doctors don�t stay in IGH?

1. Less money.

2. Working condition

3. They get better jobs

4. Recent trend of newer generation of doctor is to change jobs.

5. Interference by union and patients relatives and seniors.

In last 44 years IGH has made a name not only in India but also abroad.

Most of the senior doctors have retired and the newer generation is slowly but surely taking up the challenge of health care delivery in IGH. Most of them are good but they need support from seniors doctors and administrators.

IGH is unique of its� kind in western part of Orissa, lets see that more number of patients come for treatment not for investigations to this steel plant hospital in future.

For that we have to follow certain guidelines or else it will be called as a mediocre investigating hospital. Some retired doctors use IGH as nursing home and their personnel property.

To improve services we need ==

1. dedication
2. expertise
3. human touch
4. better communication
5. less interference
6. accountability
7. training facilities
8. private practice(vigilance department to act quickly)
9. better referral system
10. reward to medical professionals
11. dignity of doctors
12. first class citizens in steel industry
13. better promotion policy for good doctors.
14. better nursing staff and paramedical staffs.
15. outsourcing of certain departments
16. canteen facilities for medical staff(subsidiary)
17. better security in hospital
18. frequent communication with press and media
19. extra remuneration for academically active people
20. better documentation and printed discharge cards.

This is meant for IGH doctors only.

Writer sanjoy kumar satpathy. Who has begged maximum suggession awards from RSP,Rourkela.

B/188 sector 18 rourkela3

04 April 2006

The famous Nainital lake and the town.

Almora, Uttaranchal

The Satpathys visited Uttaranchal Pradesh recently. Here is a the snow peaked mountains near Almora in the state of Uttaranchal. Almora has a population of 1.2 lakhs.The male members are a bit lazy and drink a lot.A very good place for tourist. Satpathys happened to see a full-grown leopard in the evening of 31st March in the hills near Almora