Monday, February 2, 2009

Manmohan Singh

Many many years ago, we had a prime minister called Lalbahadur Shastri, who had all the attributes of a leader. He was honest, efficient, noncorrupt, and humble and knew how to delegate responsibility and remain calm in the face of adversity. He was the last of the true Gandhians.

The present Prime minster of my country is a gentle Sikh called Man mohan Singh. He like Shastri became the prime minister by default 4 years ago. He belongs to the ruling party whose moral antecedents have always been suspect is another matter altogether. He speaks less, has no personal charisma, his oratory skills needs much to be desired, diffident and has no mass base. Why is it then he has captured the hearts of many like me who have a gut dislike for his party?

It is because the way he deports himself in public and personal life. Never makes it an issue that he was the chief of London school of economics, that he is responsible 20 years ago for the country’s economic turnaround, doesn’t mind if others hogging the limelight and the credit for the work he has done and is doing, and more than anything else, his behaviour when he fell seriously ill a fortnight ago.

He has had a coronary artery bypass graft surgery done 15 years ago and a stenting procedure few years ago. Investigations revealed that the grafts had blocked and he was in serious trouble and needed a redo surgery, a highly risky procedure. In this kind of circumstances what would an Indian dignitary do? He would scout around the world and would land up in some institution in the US or UK. The Indian public is used to such health jaunts by our politicians and other bigwigs. But Dr Singh did nothing of that kind. He chose a government institution called all India institute of medical sciences and an Indian cardiac surgeon called Ramakanth Panda to do the redo surgery. The surgery took 15 hours and was successful and today, after only seven days, a beaming prime minister was seen shaking hands with the team of doctors before leaving for his home.

By this act this prime minister has sent a message to all Indians. That we have the best medical care and please make use of it.

Foot note. This is true we do have the best. But one must know where the best are. Health care in India is like a haystack with needles. The needles are the excellent professionals. To get to know who are these and where are they working is important and the prime minister was lucky in having found an institution and Dr Ramakanth Panda.

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