Read about this incident in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh. In the said incident, the parents of a 10-month-old boy who died in a hospital 130 km from state capital, Lucknow, allege that they were asked for bribes by every employee they encountered, including the person who was to administer a crucial injection to the infant. As a result of the delay, their child died.
Heart-wrenching to read about a wailing mother, who believes that her child could had been saved, if timely medical help was given. Feel sad to read about a father (a Daily Labour) who has to face the reality that his economic helplessness was the reason for the death of his child.
Even more unfortunate for any citizen is that, even before inquiring into the matter, the hospital has denied the allegations. But ironically enough, the hospital has ordered an inquiry and sacked one of the bribe-takers. If you’ve already denied the allegations, then why an inquiry into the matter? One may ask.
But there’s another , “Wonder that is India” moment here. The parents have not gone to the police after the hospital’s assurance that their complaint would be investigated. Oh Dear!
Ideally, in a country ruled by Law, no one must be requested NOT TO file a Police complaint.
With some experience of Uttar Pradesh, I can believe in what the poor couple is saying. There’s such an awe of Officialdom and Government personnel in the state that they want to be treated a Mai-Baaps (One who feeds the people) of the people. No surprise, majority of young men and women in the state aspire for a Government job.
But bribe is not limited to the State alone. Bribe and accompanying corruption is rampant not only in other states as well. But what is exceptional about UP is that along with colossal corruption, here the petty corruption is rampant as well.
Talking of petty bribes and the above incident, there’s a social aspect related as well.
Just like Dowry system in India, bribe is a kind of corruption is fueled by social set up as well. That’s unless there are people willing to give Dowry, you cannot eradicate dowry. People can demand dowry only when there are majority of people who are more than willing to give dowry for various reasons (reserve the top eligible bachelor in their caste, city or State, and other factors). In the same way, bribes, whether petty or colossal cannot exist if there are more than willing bribe givers.
Sticking to the topic of this article. What may be the reason, a person in the Healthcare service sector has the heart to ask for a bribe even in an emergency?
The most feasible reason here appears to be the tendency to ask for bribes. This also means 9 out of 10 times his/her demand for a bribe or expectation for a bribe (“BAKSHEESH or INAM” — Reward for being part of some Happy Outcome) is met, many a times with an open heart by the person bestowing on that Reward.
What these occasions can be ? The closest which comes to my mind is — the Birth of a Male child. You will see well to do families distributing Baksheesh within moments of such events.
The basic point here is: Irrespective of how one feels on any situation, Health care must be accessible to all. The moment you start behaving like a King in his moment of Happiness, bestowing sweets, gifts, money on Hospital Staff, you set a wrong precedent. The victims of which are those who are really poor.
If you see yourself as educated person with adequate World view, then you’re doubly duty bound NOT to set such precedents. Else your generous acts will not only devoid the poor of basic Health care. But the expectation of Bribe and societal pressure (the pressure that one has to act like a king on any favorable outcome) will put them to unwanted non-productive money borrowings.
It’s not our business as users of service, to show the World how happy we are with the quality of service. At the same time, it’s not our business to boost the monthly payback of a contractual Ward boy, nurse or doctor. If we see bribes, a result of contractual nature of many of these jobs, then as Consumers we are missing the point. It’s Government’s problem to ensure that people in Essential Sectors (such as Health Care Services) are not only given permanent employment. But the people working there, are also adequately paid.