Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | January 20, 2009

Social Act?

The following video shows how doctors in Kolkata, have become frustrated with lawlessness and have acted.

Stop smoking or get beaten up!

At this point I am in a dilemma, how to judge such an action ! I wish doctors in public hospitals also have notices which say, let’s make hospital facilities better, let’s be diligent, let’s get cleaners in hospitals to work, let’s stop fourth-class hospital staff asking for bribes, let’s provide adequate beds for people who don’t have relations in State Government, let’s not host patients hostages while we strike.

Will they do that? What if they don’t put up such notices and patients react in uncivilized manner following their social act with another?

I don’t support lawlessness, but there are perhaps decent ways of enforcement!

Do you feel, I am unfairly criticising such a “noble” step by educated doctors in SSKM ? It would be interesting to hear how some of the readers would view this as.

Greenpeace India is a non-profit organisation which works on environmental issues. They don’t work like the doctors in SSKM. The website says,

” To ensure that Greenpeace remains an independent voice for the planet, we do not accept corporate or government funds. We rely wholly on the small donations of millions of supporters like you, people who care about the world and want to share it with future generations, people who want to be part of the solution”

So all is not lost, it seems.

The social organisation I earlier mentioned (Stroke Foundation of Bengal) on my blog, did not generate much enthusiasm among the younger readers. The younger lot remained passive- probably trying to save money for the next gadget they shall gift themselves. Volunteering does not always mean contributing funds – it also means spreading awareness, providing ideas or even writing a note of appreciation to the people who are working for a social cause.

We all have our own frustrating stories to tell, but we can channel our anger towards positive actions rather than venting them out in our comfort zones.

Doctors in NZ have really liked the concept of Stroke Foundation of Bengal and are eager to provide guidance. Representatives are meeting my father tomorrow at our place. They volunteered to come and meet him, after knowing that he is a guest in Auckland. I hope the meeting goes on well.

What surprises me is that, they are so eager to help out people in Bengal on the basis of a single informative email. Alas, most of us don’t do that even if that concerns our own people, our own land. We love however, being the most vocal patriots in the world. The oft debated issue of (most recently in all reviews of the film Slumdog Millionaire) how the developed world is obsessed with the underbelly that exists inside the developing world beyond the apparent progress, cannot be a generalisation. My feeling is, before we judge the developed world’s obsession, if we, the citizens of developing world ourselves cure our ignorance of our weaknesses, we shall secure much more respect. We seem to be conveniently, missing the point. It is best to fulfil our duties first and then teach others a lesson or two unlike the doctors in SSKM hospital.



  1. The meeting should be fruitful. I have strong hope. There are very few initiatives ever happenned in Bengal like SFB. This is a great thought, we should do our bit to make it successful.


  2. Thank you, Tanmoy for bringing the news clipping to the notice of people who missed the original story.

    Your comment on the doctors’ action is restrained and dignified. But I would not be so restrained.

    I know many excellent doctors in West Bengal, who are also good human beings. I bow to them, but that doesn’t change the fact that the health-care system in West Bengal in a shambles.

    I think it is so partly because, like all other sectors of our public life, the health care system too is not run by honest professionals, but by incompetent, dishonest and self-serving pimps whose commitment is not to their patients but to their political masters. Instances of their incompetence and dishonesty are legion; this is not a place to narrate them.

    How can doctors be so arrogant and crude as to threaten ordinary people with physical violence? Who has given them the authority to take over the legal system? Which law allows beating up a man for smoking, or for any offense for that matter? How can they, being government employees, publicly threaten to break the law? Why no action is taken against them?

    We will find answers to all these questions if we realize that West Bengal today is being ruled by Marxist Talibans, who respect neither the law of the land, nor human dignity. No wonder that some stupid people who call themselves doctors are learning from their political bosses about how to deal with ordinary people.

    But to quote you, all is not lost. It is heartwarming that you and your father are trying to do something positive, not just criticizing others, like me. Wish you all success in your endeavour.

  3. What is interesting to note is that a few doctors will be coming to meet you and your father because you are a new guest in town. A hospitality and care of such a kind is unimaginable here. In fact, it is very much unlikely even in America and Europe. I am really impressed by the accounts of Auckland that you have been giving so long. I wish I get a good job there.

    As far as the main issue in your recent post is concerned, it brings back in our minds the same sense of shame that comes with several other disturbing issues eating away our social order. And the worst thing is that so much of damage has been done on such a large scale that I simply can not understand how to turn things back to the good that was there, perhaps, in the days of Ram and his Ayodhya.

  4. What was the outcome of the meeting Tanmoy?

  5. All the places, really did not change much. This is infact very interesting to see. The colors of certain shops got changed number of times. The posters on the walls got changed. But the place with his business people kept the spirit intact. Food in Decker’s lane is still yummy, Radhabazaar is still having numerous small and medium shops. Chandni anyway I do not see will change in coming hundred years. Nahoum cake I ate last year. 🙂 Bookfair I could not manage this time, but feedback got from friends that organization is poor (place can not be compared to Maidan.. no way) but space is big. Probably in couple of years, Bengalis will be able to adjust with it.

    The process they follow in NZ for stroke foundation should be the ideal one. But when one is printing brochures for free, certainly he does not keep any profit factor in mind. Hope we will get same type of help for SFB. I know SFB and Dipes Kaku from close. I am yet to start a full course action, but aware of the progress. I have few plans in mind, hope to start within couple of years for the people. Lets see what I can do. If 1 in every 1000 Bengalis around the globe come forward for a good cause, it is enough to change the scenerio.

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