The Government of India has recently gifted itself a privilege. The state will reimburse the total cost of medical treatment for the three highest civil services officers (yes the IAS, IPS and IFS). And this entitlement is not limited to procedures that cannot be carried out in India. As this newspaper reports , these officers can decide to go abroad for even now routine procedures such as bypass surgeries. A privilege that is rather unfair, undemocratic and borders on institutionalized corruption. Here’s why.
First, the most obvious argument pointed out in the newspaper article itself, is the huge expenditure to the exchequer. However that to me is the beginning of why this is problematic. The following two concerns are perhaps more grave.
The first argument is that such an entitlement cannot be limited to the officers of the three Elite services. Let me explain. India has a socialist public health system. In other words, our public hospitals treat every citizen according to their income. The poor are charged the least and so on. (Certain government jobs entitle all employees to treatment at government expenses). The network consists of primary health centers, district and state hospitals and more specialized referral hospitals such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at New Delhi. Every patient irrespective of social or economic status can be referred upto AIIMS for treatment. So if treatment abroad has to be on government expense, why should it not extend to all beneficiaries of the Public Health system? Should it be based on your status in the government or on the complexity of your illness? Readers familiar with Animal Farm may remember what the pigs did for themselves.
The second argument is that such policies will only lead to further degradation of the Public Health Infrastructure. I recently had written about how a state hospital was unable to treat a case of hydrocephalus, a rather common condition among infants and elderly. The IAS run our health ministry and hence ensure the functioning of this system. If they are allowed to avoid and escape the system for their own use, they will never empathize with the concerns of the infirm common man. An analogy can be found in public transport. India’s public transport is pathetic because those who oversee its smooth functioning are not its users. They ride chauffeur driven cars, which contribute to their apathy at the plight of those who ride trains and buses. Likewise for primary education and the state of government run schools.
This law needs to be immediately challenged in the courts. Beyond the most direct arguments of an expenditure the government should not incur, there are other grave concerns.
Such policies are based on flawed principles! I am willing to work with any individual or organization that wants to file a PIL, organize a protest and represent against this decision. Please email me/ comment here and I will be all ears.
Either the Indian media are dumb or the PR cell of Indian Institutes of Management rather astute. Whatever the case, this time of the year, amidst reports of uber inflated starting salary figures, are also these isolated reports of the “real heroes” who give up “plum jobs” to “serve the society”. Puja Mishra of Indian Instute of Management Calcutta, latest demigod of the kind .
As I read the provocative headline, I became interested in reading further. The first half of the story, does not even get to the point and is only devoted at making Puja an infallible Hero, painting her move as a triumph of devotion to serve mankind over the lure of the lucre. However, 2 paragraphs later we learn that the sacrifice made by this lady is to use her Father’s land to start a private school and college in Rae Barelli District.
Anyone vaguely aware of Indian economy and business environment will realize that an enterprise in education, such as the one Ms Mishra has joined her family in, has huge money spinning potential. One does not need the McKinseys and KPMGs of the world to reiterate this, although the latter themselves are making a lot of money advising businesses precisely this, to enter India’s undeserved yet highly lucrative higher education sector. The quality and output of these enterprises so far has been far from impressive.
Returning to Ms Mishra’s case, it turns out ( as written later in the story) the husband had already started the business, and she is joining in to grow the business as I see it. Further more he is off to Kennedy School (Harvard University) for an MPA degree, as she is now available to run the shop. Aren’t these ‘I sacrificed a lucrative job to teach rural kids’ kinds of stories the perfect recipes for fat fellowships? And did you notice how a high court lawyer ( the father) is the perfect pillar of support the couple needs to get many otherwise onerous bureaucratic hurdles overcome their way.
The idea here is not to spew venom on MS Mishra and to criticize her best laid plans. What concerns me is that why does this newspaper and one of the world’s most coveted place to study business management, not frame this move as a wise business decision. The couple at IIMC and at Kennedy are merely gaining access to superior networks, that will help them grow this business only taller. She is no martyr as media make her out to be.
So Kingfisher airlines has made losses yet again. Whats new, they have been bettering their own record since 2005, the year they started. But this time, they want us taxpayers to bail them out! So that a handful can continue to enjoy their hedonistic inflight experiences!
They want this money to bailout an airline that gobbled Air Deccan the only true low cost carrier that the country ever had. They did this not because they wanted to enter low cost aviation , but get additional flying slots and fly internationally sooner. What benefit has Kingfisher done for the country? Created new celebrities such as Poonam Pandey. Organized extensive photo shoots to churn out crass calenders that a handful of Indians can Facebook, tweet and do more with!
Yes I am angry, and consider this my rant. But a government that hasn’t figured out its act with Air India for some decades now, has no business to try and decide anything for Kingfisher. And it is not that the whole business is suffering, there are players out there who are successfully braving the times.
Finally it is a question of priorities. Perhaps all state road transport corporations can be modernized and upgraded if we decide to forgo one kingfisher. But the ministers and bureaucrats don’t travel in those. They fly Kingfisher to drool at the air hostess whose makeups remind me of Mallu Pornstars, while they contemplate on the prescriptions Economists from MIT, Harvard and Chicago have for eliminating poverty in India!