Ethics x Zero =?© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

An NRI businessman was held with his family on an European airport as his travel agency had used fake credit cards, in spite of him paying them in cash. The airline threatened to have the NRI arrested there. In panic, he called an Indian lawyer through a friend in India. The Lawyer negotiated on phone with the airlines, asked him to pay for the tickets afresh. For this consultation, the lawyer is said to have charged the ‘customer’ over TWO LAKH rupees.

No Legal authority made any comments. 

Legally probably this is correct.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Six months later.

A retired high level judge said in his speech: “The Medical Profession is becoming worse by the day because of commercialisation. Of all the people, medical professionals must follow ethics and serve the community with a selfless attitude”.

Our Dr. Zorro was in the audience. Innocently, he started to think: can a high level judicial official called in for his legal expertise make such generalisation about an entire community of highly educated professionals? Did the hon’ble retired mean that there are no good or ethical doctors? What about the millions of doctors who teach in the various medical colleges and work as medical officers, government service doctors, resident doctors, and the nurses and paramedics, all of whom serve the poorest of the poor while receiving minimal salaries: can they be said to have been commercialised? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

This retired hon’ble must have meant the private doctors then, thought Dr. Zorro. He knew that all Judges are entitled to free treatment at all government hospitals. Why didn’t the retired judge avail of treatment at a government hospital? If he was not happy with the treatment at a govt hospital, why didn’t he legally pursue the matter, so the society could benefit? Why didn’t he, in his tenure as a judge, suo moto ask the government to supply best free treatment to all patients alike, rich and poor? Why don’t the current judges / courts ask the governments to arrange for the free hospitals / care centres/ treatment of all the poor patients / non-affording patients as a priority?© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Also about the selfless service. Didn’t the legal dignitary see all through his career spanning decades, the poor, downtrodden, humiliated, violated, looted and harassed petitioners who keep on knocking the doors of the hon’ble court for years, nay, decades? Was there any example of night shifts or cancellation of long yearly vacations by any courts, especially in a country with so many million cases pending? Didn’t the legal chair see the naked dance of rich, powerful and famous who can get away with murders, accidents, frauds and rapes while some innocent poor rot in the hell called Indian jails because they cannot afford the bribes or legal help? Do not the courts see the farmer suicides, malnutrition related deaths, the corporatisation of medical practice and education by the powerful? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Even a simpleton like Dr. Zorro could understand that when corporates are investing in a hospital, it will be for profit. Who has forced the patient to go to the private practitioners or corporate hospitals? You cannot go to a five star hotel and bargain for roadside rates, then blame them for their prices.

If one judge is corrupt, does that give any other responsible professional an authority to blame the entire judiciary?

That’s Prejudice, Milord!

Then again. If not commercial, what type of a medical practice does the non-Nobel winning legal authority imagine? Many, if not most, private hospitals have brought in medical advances that government couldn’t invest for. Faster, ultramodern medical technology, skills and specialists have all come to India because there are private hospitals. Make everything subsidised, low cost and see what happens! We have lawmakers who say that meals are available at 12 rupees in Mumbai and 5 rupees in Delhi. Tomorrow, they will declare bypass surgeries in 99 rupees and joint replacements in 49! © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Fashionably, some people advise professionals from other fields to change and serve the society better, while their own profession is excused. Why not, Milord, in your retirement leisure, make a plan for early resolution of hundreds of problems that ethical, junior lawyers and innocent, poor petitioners face? Why not punish those who lie under oath in the court? Why not devise a plan so that remote poor farmers, labourers, daily wage workers do not have to travel to the high court hundreds of miles away? Why not represent the non-affording petitioners in the Supreme court free with your excellent legal acumen? Once this is achieved, they may also invite you to solve the issues of medical practice and professionals. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Doctors must be ethical” said this retired judge. 

Milord, which other category of professionals, citizen are you excusing from ethics? Is the hon’ble authority supporting unethical community except one component? Why not say that everyone be ethical? On that note, is it ethical for a highly placed authority to malign an entire profession? Is it ethical for a highly placed judge to be prejudiced about an entire profession? Doesn’t such prejudice affect judgement?

Which profession, Milord, in our country, is free of corruption? How fair is it that the mother beats up only one child when all her four children were stealing the sugar? There is no excuse for corruption, malpractice and negligence. These must go from all professions. 

One can begin with one’s own.

In a profession which includes many components: doctor, paramedic, nursing, pharma, local administration, govt.,etc and also patients, to pin all the blame of commercialisation upon the doctor alone is a cognitive mistake.

But Dr. Zorro was too tired with his work to argue aloud. He did not say anything. ‘I may be wrong,’ he thought, ‘and who will stand by me even if I am right?’ He had his emergency that day, there was no time to argue the retired hon’ble. Also, he remembered the kind lawyer who had fought his case for postgraduate admission free (Dr. Zorro had no money then too, and lived so happily ever after), and the Hon’ble Justice who had blasted the government then, for reduction in PG seats causing many a damaged medical careers. Thanks to that ‘Ethical’ judge, Dr. Zorro could get his rightful PG seat. ‘In respect for those good people in his profession, I will keep mum’, thought Dr. Zorro.

The headlines next day said “Judge blasts commercialisation and corruption in medical profession”. 

Dr. Zorro’s father showed it to him. A retired ethical doctor who had served poor patients free all his life, he knew this retired judge too. “He was my classmate”, said Dr. Zorro’s father, “I have treated his family free many times. Before becoming a judge, he was a big lawyer, and charged quite heavily. Still I didn’t charge him. See, today he has paid my bills with poison”.

Dr. Zorro smiled. “Papa, it’s high time ‘Jealous Depression’ is included in the DSM manual”. They both laughed!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Author, “The Doctor Gene”

PS: Completely imaginary work of fiction. Any resemblance to anyone living, dead or retired is unintended and purely coincidental. Dr. Zorro does not exist . Sense-of-humour deficiency is not our responsibility. The professions included are random, just as entertainment that can be understood by all and sundry. The author means no disrespect to anyone, and has immense respect for and faith in Doctors, medical professionals, Judges, lawyers and other legal professionals.

Jai Hind.

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