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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

An incognito Union health minister and a guard who hit him

Like the kings of yore, Bharat’s health minister Mansukh Mandaviya paid a surprise visit as a general patient to the Safdarjung Hospital to assess the performance of the staff. What’s more he was hit by a guard for sitting on a bench. However he took it in stride and said that he didn’t take any action on the guard as he wants to improve the system and not just one person.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya was in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Thursday to inaugurate new facilities. In the event he inaugurated a child abuse care and elder abuse care centre in the new block, the third PM-CARES Pressure Swing Adsorption Oxygen Plant with capacity 1 MT, and a new makeshift hospital at the hospital premises. He also presented the hospital its entry-level NABH accreditation certificate and released a booklet ‘Quality ki Baat’.

While there he spoke about his surprise visit to the hospital disguised as a general patient. During that visit he was hit by a guard at the hospital for sitting on a bench, he revealed. He spoke in length about several patients facing problems in getting stretchers and other medical assistance at the hospital and shared the incident where he saw a 75-year-old woman plead with the guards to get her son a stretcher but couldn’t get anyone to help her.

Displeased with the guards’ behaviour, he asked why no one came forward to help her when there are 1500 guards posted in the hospital for this exact purpose. The minister reminded the paramedics and other support staff that being the two sides of the same coin, hospital and medical staff should remember their duty and work as a team.

Minister Mandaviya said that he informed the PM about this incident. An upset PM asked whether the guard was suspended to which the minister had replied that he wasn’t suspended as the minister is “trying to improve the system and not just one person”. Our kings used to disguise themselves and roam the country to check whether the inputs they got from their ministers were true. It helped them see what ordinary people go through and keep the officials on their toes and responsible. 

Now the minister has tried the same in the midst of a pandemic which would boost the morale of honest workers and imbibe trust in the hearts of the needy. Mansukh Mandaviya was mocked and ridiculed by mentally colonised sepoys for lack of English-language proficiency when he was appointed as the Health Minister. Such sepoys will swoon over a below-average leader like Nehru who goes around slapping sadhus, but who can speak English with a clipped-British accent.

In 2019, Mandaviya was honoured by UNICEF for his contribution to the cause of women’s menstrual hygiene. He had made sanitary pads made with oxo-biodegradable technology available to girl children at a nominal cost through the chain of Jan Aushadhi Kendras.

As this tweet suggests, other ministers should also emulate what Mansukh Mandaviya did and then compare their first-hand experience as a commoner against the reports their IAS Babus present.

(Featured Image Source: India Today)

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