The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

The other side of the story

Sir —The report, “Making advances” (Nov 10), raises a few questions. Why hasn’t anyone tried to get Phaneesh Murthy’s point of view on print' Or is he not entitled to one' Last year, the United States of America netted around $ 50 million in fines from so-called sexual harassment cases. Some of these allegations were completely fantastic, coming from employees out to malign the company or people with professional or personal grievances. Once made an allegation is taken to be true at face value and the “offender” pilloried, socially stigmatized and professionally victimized. The feminist maxim that a woman does not lie on these issues is the biggest obscurantist blow to behavioural sciences. Worse, even in the rare instances that an accused is acquitted, feminist groups malign the investigation process and witnesses. It is painful to see the media using the term “women’s groups” when referring to agenda-driven rabid feminist formations and their dubious “surveys”.

Yours faithfully,
Sandeep Mukherjee Calcutta

Placebo effect

Sir — The more things change, the more they remain the same. Thus it was that under the fresh coat of paint the B.C. Roy Memorial Children’s Hospital received before the visit of the Union health minister, the management of the hospital continued to go on exactly as before (“Spit-n-shine for Sinha, squalor within”, Nov 9). Since Shatrughan Sinha decided not to nitpick over some poor dead children with the state government, the chief minister felt free to wax eloquent about how things in the hospital were “in order”. The equipment was apparently in place and so was the administration, only the personnel needed some more “discipline”. But what kind of equipment' The only referral paediatric hospital in the state, which continues to function without an ultrasonography machine and paediatric intensive care unit, recently acquired four data-processing computers. It is precisely such skewed priorities which led to the deaths of children in this hospital. And that hasn’t changed. So, who is Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee fooling'

Yours faithfully,
D. Chatterjee, Calcutta

Sir — The “cut and paste” measure that the West Bengal government undertook before Shatrughan Sinha’s visit to the B.C. Roy Hospital is not new. Such whitewashes have been resorted to every time there is need to hide the errors of the administration. The face-lift may have served a short-term purpose, but no one is talking about the price the children had to pay. Asthma patients were especially affected by the smoke from the burning garbage. But who will tell the government that it cannot improve the hospital at the cost of the patients in it'

Yours faithfully,
S. Poddar, Calcutta

Sir — The report, “Hospital dresses up for Shotgun show” (Nov 8), shows the absolute hypocrisy of the West Bengal government. Even the face-lift for the B.C. Roy Hospital, which the government relented to only because the Union health minister came visiting, was postponed to the last moment. We should perhaps ask for more visits by Central dignitaries, because that seems to be the only way something will get done at the hospital.

Yours faithfully,
T.R. Anand, Calcutta

Sir — Months after Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee acknowledged that the death of even one child in any of the state’s hospitals was a cause for worry, there has not been much improvement in the state of healthcare in West Bengal. Children are still dying in large numbers in government-run hospitals in the state, many of which have become extortion rackets in the hands of employees. Medicines, and even saline, are routinely recycled.

The government should ask a social organization to run a hospital for a trial period of say, one month. The only condition should be that the current fees should not be raised. Also, employees who cheat should be threatened with dismissal.

Yours faithfully,
Vandana Rathi, Calcutta

Sir — The report, “Protest after more baby deaths” (Oct 24), is heartbreaking. Another episode of far too many children dying in a hospital, another round of allegations by the opposition parties to cash in on the deaths, another inevitable inquiry by the government to pacify the public and another “verdict” that the deaths were “unpreventable”. History goes on repeating itself in the state. For the ill-fated children and their hapless parents in West Bengal, death under the most abysmal medical negligence will always remain “unpreventable”. The only certainty in all this is that like their short life, posthumous justice will also be snatched away from them.

Yours faithfully,
Kunal Saha, Ohio, US

Sir — The situation in the Siliguri hospital, presumably, is similar to government-run hospitals elsewhere in West Bengal. Such is the condition of this hospital that even in the emergency ward, patients may have their blood samples drawn but they will only be examined elsewhere, and that too on demand. Hospital authorities even refuse to do ECGs and USGs inside the premises. The doctors here seem to be in league with private pathological laboratories to which they are attached. Even the intensive care unit, recently inaugurated by the chief minister, seems to be under siege. Yet the poor and the middle class of the town cannot afford to go to another hospital. Will the government please monitor the working of this hospital more sincerely'

Yours faithfully,
Soobrata Roy, Siliguri

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