When Hospitals Scavenge on Patients

This is how patients were rescued after the staff had locked the door and fled! (AP photo)

The fire that broke out in the AMRI hospital in Calcutta, is now believed to have killed almost 90 patients (and the death toll keeps mounting).  There were no doctors or staff among the dead, because they had all fled, locking the patients inside! Apparently, they had been given instructions not to let the patients go because their bills had not been cleared yet! This hospital with the ironical name of ‘Advanced Medical Research Institute’ is one of the largest, up-scale, private hospitals in the city, and treatment here does not come cheap!!! I know because, my father (who has passed on) was suffering from cancer and was under-going radiotherapy there.

What my family didn’t know then, was that the basement, where the fire broke out, (more…)

Giving Thanks for Taking by Giving

An American friend today emailed me some of his favorite ‘Thanksgiving’ anecdotes.  And I in turn sent him one of mine.  And then I thought maybe I should share it on my blog too — it might resonate with others as it has with me.  

This happened when I was living in Washington D.C.  This is one city, that during the holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving etc. becomes a ghost town.  Everyone clears out.  I had neighbors, women who retired from the State Department, and had lived three-fourths of their lives in D.C., who would say “I’m going home for Thanksgiving,” and then leave for New York State, or Ohio or wherever it was that they were born and raised.

In the end there would only be a motley handful of us, foreigners from various countries, left behind (more…)

India’s Food Cartels Are Starving People

March 24, 2010

A potato farmer, Maktabul Hussein, only 18 years old, committed suicide today in Jalpaiguri, in West Bengal.  Why? Because the price of potatoes have dropped so much that he could not make up the money to pay back the Rs. 500,000/- loans he had taken to cultivate his land.

Maktabul was getting only Rs. 1.80/kg for his potatoes.  And this is what is bizarre! Over the last few months everyone in town has been complaining about how the cost of potatoes has been soaring, along with that of onions, lentils and rice.  At one point potatoes was selling for Rs.20/kg! If the middle-class was feeling the pinch, just imagine how it has been for the poor.  Potato after all has been the poor’s sustenance! What more – recently the West Bengal government announced that there has been such a surplus of potatoes that they are going to be exporting them!

What are we supposed to gather from this? Is there a potato cartel at work here?  That odious middle-man?  Does he hoard the potatoes – and rips off the poor farmer who breaks his back cultivating it.  And then turns around rips off the customers by charging them 10 times the cost?

In the book Needless Hunger, the authors show that it was exactly this kind of food cartel that had resulted in Bangladesh’s famine, when hundreds died of starvation.

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