The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Better pill to cure hospitals

Rock band Cactus belts out its stuff before a concert to spread awareness on World AIDS Day. After a competition among upcoming bands in the first half, other big names like Dohar, Fossils, Shohor and Chandrabindoo took over Nazrul Mancha in the evening. Picture by Amit Datta

Public outrage and genuine anxiety — these are just two of the emotions triggered by the recent events at state-run hospitals. Time to Talk asked readers to step into shoes of power, to decide how they could tackle this crisis, with the question, ‘If I were the health minister of West Bengal, I would improve the condition of city hospitals by...’ Here are the answers:

lI would first ensure the best of health for my friends, family and fellow ministers, because if I can’t look after them how can I ensure my voters’ health' I would not sack negligent doctors or take action against hospital staff or corrupt officials in my ministry, because without them, who would I look after! Citizens' Nay, not till the next elections!

Arihant Bhandawat,
Don Bosco School, Liluah

lThe spate of deaths in city hospitals has highlighted the fact that not only is the infrastructure inadequate and the staff inefficient, but these health centres are also dangerous for patients. If I were the health minister, I would penalise hospitals for refusing patients. Second, I would appoint efficient doctors. Next, I would arrange finance to improve hygiene, and start an intelligence network to monitor functioning of the centres and doctors.

Sharmistha Dan,
Class XII,
Shri Shikshayatan School

Hospitals in Bengal have been making headlines for decades. Sharing space with dogs and unconcerned nurses who do not bat an eyelid are common woes for hapless patients. The stench from toilets continues to overpower those who do not have the power to complain. If I were the health minister, I would find out why quality healthcare remains elusive. It probably has less to do with funding and more to do with the attitude of the people involved. I would try and see to it that both the district health services department and the health department are adequately equipped to cope with an emergency. Private investment in healthcare needs to be encouraged. Doctors and industrialists should be inspired to set up hospitals in rural areas. Better control over distribution of medicines in rural hospitals is also required. All this is easier said than done. But the death of a Shabana or Susmita should read as a stern reminder of the need to pull up one’s socks.

Ranjana Das,
Lady Brabourne College

If I were the health minister of West Bengal, I would lay stress on managing human resources. Government hospital staff often neglect duties. I would listen to their problems and make sure they are solved. I would see to it that all good work is appreciated. At the same time, I would impose penalties on insincere employees. I would see that the infrastructure at hospitals is proper. I would try to minimise the gap between idea and implementation by distributing administrative powers proportionately to all sections of the work force. But the key lies in improving the education system to ensure that the right principles are instilled in the workforce.

Sayan Banerjee,
IIIrd year, City College

I would improve the conditions by taking charge of government hospitals personally. Stringent weekly rounds would replace the lax monitoring system in place today. Negligence must be strictly dealt with.

Vinay Poddar,
Bhawanipur College

If I were the health minister of West Bengal, I would revamp all state-run hospitals. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation could arrange more sweepers to clean the area in and around hospitals, so no pests can harm patients. All the hospital staff would be asked to spend more time with patients. Repairs and renovation would take place promptly. Security would be tightened. The environment should be hygienic, secure and friendly. It is never too late to try!

Neha Dokania,
Class IX, Ashok Hall

lTo improve conditions in hospitals, I’d create a compulsory code of cleanliness, staff behaviour and number of doctors and beds for all state healthcare centres to follow. Systematic management can quickly bring about a favourable change.

Neha Almal

Software stars

The auditorium of South Point School was packed with parents on Sunday, waiting to cheer their children on the stage. The occasion was the prize distribution for computer-based projects. “Every year, students have to sit for a two-hour computer test. Since this is the school’s golden jubilee, we thought of adding a touch of novelty to replace the routine,” said Mandira Mukherjee, director of Nextgen, franchisee of IT Kids, which devises the software content for the school’s computer division.

So, over eight weeks, students had busied themselves. Those from Class IV and V turned journalists, running around on reporting assignments and creating the pages of their own newspaper. At the programme, on the dais, Aritrika Majumdar and Rohan Ghatak of Class V relived the excitement that 60 of them had shared. The teams of three had shared responsibilities — one chose the stories, another collected pictures while the third went for the interview. The interview line-up included the who’s who of Calcutta — mayor Subrata Mukherjee, governor Viren J. Shah, danseuse Tanushree Shankar, to name a few.

Students of Class VI and VII had a harder job of preparing a power point presentation on the theme “Everybody eats rice”. A collage of the best presentations was screened at the show, which was explained to the audience by Disha Chakraborty, whose team stood second. The seniormost lot had to post a webpage. Sanjil Dutta was the spokesperson for the Class VII sites focussing on the seven wonders of the world, from the history of each monument to information necessary for a visit to the spot.

For Class VIII, the job on hand was to market a book on the Net. A confident Probahan Chakraborty briefed the audience about why his team had chosen Satyajit Ray’s Professor Shonku Ekai Aksho while the others stuck to English titles. The sites gave the story summary and the all important order form.

Marching out of the auditorium with their mothers in tow, Shambo Mukherjee and Biswajit Mondol of Class V, reporters for Newsline, declared that MS Publisher, the software they had to use to design the pages, was “very easy”. Shambo had also gone to interview singer Usha Uthup at her studio with his father and found “aunty very sweet”.

The Townsville Tribune, another entry, owed its name to Sagnik Ghosh’s fascination for the Powerpuff Girls. Sagnik was inspired by a newspaper in the cartoon series. Every team had to select the lead story from an event that took place in the year of birth of its members. Sagnik’s teammate Sarthak Ghosh who chose Pakistan’s World Cup triumph in 1992 as the paper’s lead news, was so taken with the experience that he has made up his mind to become a reporter. The team’s third member, Souradeep Ghosh, after reporting on Indo-US relations, was not so sure, though.

After the function, the crowd thronged the adjoining hall to check out an exhibition featuring the students’ achievements. The students, though, were busy comparing the prizes they had just collected.

Common class

SAAYA (Socially Aware & Active Youth Association) and VERS (Vikramshila Education Research Society) brought together some of the brightest minds from some of the best schools in Calcutta, on Saturday, to lock horns over “Common School System, the only solution to remove social inequalities” at a packed Birla Academy auditorium.

Twelve participants from Calcutta International School (CIS), Don Bosco, St Xavier’s, National High School, Loreto Sealdah and St Joseph’s lifted the debate to new heights by expressing their views with verve and eloquence. Brother Brendan McCarthaigh and professor Prasanta Roy were the judges, while journalist Utpal Chatterjee was the moderator.

In this battle of wits, the girls from CIS stole the show. They were adjudged the best team and speaking against the motion, Aishwarya Padmanabhan of CIS was chosen the best speaker. Don Bosco finished a close second. In the discussion that followed, the panellists expressed their views emphatically. Brother Brendan criticised the lack of creativity in education and Prasanta Roy argued that the system of equality has been preached in communist countries like Russia resulting in a complete collapse and thus should not be emulated in India. Shubhra Chatterjee of VERS spoke up for the Common School System.

Aritro Ganguly

Ready to stage

A Harold Pinter production is hitting the city stage soon. Betrayal will be enacted by four young actors at Gyan Manch on December 6. Director Vivek Bothra, a recent graduate from St Xavier’s College, also stars in the play alongside Tathagata Choudhury of Theatrecian, Rajashri Basu, a student of St Xavier’s, and Laura Mishra, with a role in the high-profile show for Sahara now being shot in the city, Saheb Biwi aur Ghulam.

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