Musings for a responsible society

Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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Hey Doctor! Why are you in a hurry?

   One profession where every millisecond matters is the medical profession. Doctors run against time, saving millions of lives. They can afford only little sleep, little socializing and leisure. Commitment to work and pressure from the organization force them to keep their apron on for almost 18 hours a day. Society should thank not only them, but also their spouses and children for letting them away from home. But what worries us is that many of these doctors are too much in a hurry, creating anxious and depressing moments for patients and their relatives.

     Recently, I read an article about a bereaved wife who went through a torrid ordeal in a hospital. She was beside her ailing husband for several days. They were a well-educated couple with a fair social standing. Husband was hospitalized with a chest pain. The doctor visited their room just for a minute and never found time to interact with the patient’s wife. Enquiries and doubts from the wife and children got monosyllabic answers. The elderly husband, not fit enough for a surgery, was made to undergo a heart bypass. He suffered a heart attack and died even as the surgery was being performed. The woman believes that her husband would have lived on for many more years, if not for the negligence of a busy doctor.

     When at least a smile can give a healing touch, some doctors portray themselves as staid, learned and restless, as if that symbolizes the genius of their rare breed. It is not a very pleasant experience to be in a hospital, either as a patient or as a visitor, even if the hospital is endowed with the most-modern ‘five star’ facilities nowadays. All patients and their relatives go through depressing moments because of the pain their loved ones going through, anxiety, financial strain, loneliness and helplessness. They obviously look for empathy, transparency, concern and gentleness from the hospital management, staff and doctors. But, in general, hospitals are perceived as establishments with the sole motive of making money through a concerted effort of various stakeholders – the management, doctors, and pharma, medical, diagnostic and insurance companies. Of course, hospitals do need money to provide quality service. But what upsets patients and their relatives is a sheer lack of transparency and communication on pros and cons of different options.

      Doctors don’t have time to explain. Managements are keen to collect advances before even the patient is admitted. Other staff members are too ill-informed to guide patients or give suggestions. Social workers, counselors or relation experts are either non-existent or perform their roles superficially and mechanically. All these definitely affect the healing process.

       It is timely and appropriate to train health providers, inculcate a change in their mindset and apprise them of the need for necessary social and communication skills and empathy in a hospital setting. Doctors should know that patients and their relatives put their trust only on them and not on the management, staff, diagnostic service providers or counselors. It is imperative that doctors spend more time with patients and their relatives. And give that much-needed human touch that is lacking most of the times now.

Truth shall set us free

          We live in the indispensable world of computers and any crash leads to instant tantrums. One fine morning, I found my PC sick. All my home remedies did not work and the comp continued to ail for several days. The General Practitioner – a neighborhood boy who troubleshoots all my gadgets and widgets – referred the PC to a domain specialist. The specialist heard the problem over phone and outsourced the work to another company. Within minutes, a tie-clad youngster appeared and straightaway hit the computer room. It was quite amusing to see his performance. He used his right big toe to switch on the computer and perched himself comfortably on the computer table. I was quite impressed by the strong aura of confidence around him. He was a multi-tasker too… He blew his chewing gum, fiddled with the key board, all the while sincerely responding to the callers on his cellphone. After diagnosis, he declared: “Sir, problem identified. The PC needs to be formatted.” I told him: “Go ahead, provided the data remains intact.” He said, “Of course sir!” I left him to his machinations, while I went out for a coffee.

The moment I returned, I could sense that the air of confidence had turned stale. I saw my enthusiastic young specialist standing and sweating in front of the computer. “Work is completed, but all data got deleted by mistake,” he said in a pleading voice. I was stunned, and I insisted that he retrieve all the deleted data. But he said he did not know how to do it. An angry me asked him what his qualification was. To my surprise, he said he was a management graduate and was currently picking up computer skills through “on-job training”. That means, all the while he was having his practical lessons on my PC. Realizing that shouting at him was of no use, I asked him to contact his company immediately and get the data retrieved. The company told me I should have saved the data in a storage device before reformatting the computer. I was shocked. I could not believe that my official documents, research notes, and hundreds of personal and other files were gone forever. I told the company chief how the damage was done by his employee and data had to be retrieved completely. I threatened to sue his company for my data loss. The boss promised to get the best technical help soon.

Over the next three days, two super-specialists came and performed a by-pass surgery on my PC with the help of, what looked like, sophisticated and latest gadgets. They could retrieve every single file of mine. Not just that… they also got back thousands of other files that were diligently deleted and emptied from the recycle bin. Now, I believe that nothing can be deleted from a computer hard disc.

But how different is life from these machines? They are just mirror images of our life. Whatever we do in life cannot be corrected or erased completely and forever. Pleasant experiences and scars… they all remain etched. Machines being machines, computers retain everything as it is. Truth is always everlasting. Who can afford to lie in this techno era?

If your PC and laptop can tell every bit of what you did for years, there are several other gadgets that broadcast to the world much more about you. Your call log, ‘tele-scripts’, messages, and conversations can be in public domain within no time. It doesn’t matter whether you are using the latest gadget with the best firewall. No information in your inbox or outbox is secret anymore. You are a fool to believe that transactions over the internet are secure.

Here is a story to illustrate the power of tech. Marcus Enfield, a former Australian Supreme Court judge, was jailed for two years for lying to the traffic police after they issued a speeding ticket for his car. He argued that he was in a different car, in a different location and was busy shopping and snacking with a friend. He said a female friend (who it turned out had died three years ago) was driving his car when the ticket was issued. The police, who used electronic records extensively, tracked what he was doing that day through mobile and credit card records, and from CCTV camera footage. They proved that his claims were completely false. The lesson is: We can continue to deceive The Almighty for centuries to come, but not technology.

Of course, it is the truth that sets us free and not technology.

(c) sibichen


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