© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
You reach the top of academic pyramid after a tooth-and-nail competition and the worst mental, emotional and physical hardwork. You learn humanity and humility in the broadest perspective. No one else can understand the worth of your work. Then you are told this is your lifelong cross. Your “Obsession and Compulsion” to help solve health issues is held as a gun to your own crown. Being good does not mean getting a good life or income. Now you must live to the wish of many others and not your own, or quit in disgraceful depression. These many other are insurance companies, corporates, people you treat, governments and other organisations made up of people with self-obsessed power agendas, even some colleagues who lust fame.
Ever drove a new car in an Indian city, following all traffic rules? You stand out as an ultimate idiot. People honk crazy when they collectively jump a red signal and you don’t. People hit your car from behind and still beat you up. The worst, some (esp. autorickshaw drivers) will challenge you by driving their vehicles into your path and looking at you with “What can you do?” face. All in the face of traffic police. Well, Indian Doctors are facing the same issue: You are expected to follow all traffic rules while others continue to screw your journey, scratch your car any which way they want. Leave aside the government, even the politically oriented doc’s organisations are busy making unilateral rules / regulations which increase the doctor’s work and further worsen the litigation liability.
Political desperation leads to compromising merit “to increase numbers of doctors” (by charging crores) in India. So the class of real good and meritorious doctors is now mixed with those who can buy everything, including fatalities due to their own medical mistakes. Many of the doctors from private colleges are good, and not all from govt colleges are good. Every passing doctor does not hold the same clinical acumen. No one is perfect. But when you allow money to run the system, only the ones with money will get away with it all. The will to control merit and corruption lacks from the highest administrative offices.
There is a huge difference between a Doctor and a Good Doctor.
The social anger is conveniently misdirected to the practicing doctors. The real players encouraging, cultivating and reaping from medical corruption stay hidden. People get to question, argue with, thrash and litigate the practicing doctor who earns a few thousand every day, but those who earn many lacs, even crores everyday remain behind the screen. Any doctor raising his / her voice against them is thrown out of a system which must work collectively.
The tragedy of perpetually having to face the illiterate poor or arrogant rich, both with political backing to threaten and assault, and expecting charity-priced superhuman service of all doctors is eating up the morale of those who take their professional duties seriously. Add to this a glamour driven primitive legal system which takes upon itself to define Indian culture, which thinks that a rich earning life is costlier than a poor man’s. Add also the semi-literate law makers who think of this profession as “Granted Inherited Slaves” to serve their vote banks.
A good doctor is proud of that good, and will not stay long where his / her pride is raped every day. This is why many many superbly talented doctors have left India, and the few remaining are gasping for dignity, which is their life.
The good doctor is on ventilator now.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande