Random Thoughts

Policies, Poverty, Parasites and Pandemics

The criminally negligent policies of all the elected democratic governments of India since independence are the cause of deteriorating health of the people.

I remember in my student days that parasitic diseases like filariasis, hookworm infestation and dracunculosis were common. Filariasis parasites spread through mosquito bites. Hookworm larvae are dispersed by feces and penetrate the bare feet of humans which come in contact with the widely dispersed human feces due to lack of toilets and sewer facilities. Dracunculosis spreads by parasite larvae which contaminate drinking water and migrate from the intestine to the skin. These prior scourges have diminished due to a WHO worldwide crusade but the lack of safe potable water and sewers is causing new pandemics.

India has rampant malaria due to the presence of the vector mosquito Anopheles. Now the mosquito genus Aedes is flourishing in India. These mosquitoes bite during daytime and breed in any stored household water. They are responsible for two new virus epidemics, Dengue and Chikungunya.

All Indian governments have failed to provide safe potable water in much of the country and inadequate water supply in urban areas. The first causes diarrhoeal deaths in children, epidemics of cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. The second compels households to store water that serves to breed mosquitoes that spread malaria, dengue and chikungunya. The unpaved uneven dirt roads all over leave behind puddles in the monsoons that breed the vectors.

Nearly sixty years after independence, we have failed to provide electricity to nearly half the population and are plagued by power cuts even to cities, including the capital New Delhi. Our record for primary education and elimination of illiteracy is equally dismal. The pervasive malnutrition of children and dearth of maternal and child healthcare are the causes of stunted mental development during the formative years, higher infant mortality and lowered life expectancy, worse than that of much poorer Bangladesh. The pervasive poverty prevents hygienic measures by the people and the poverty of the nation and corruption of the leaders lead to a vicious cycle of corrupting the society due to insecurity and access to safe water, sewers, electricity, education and public health.

Democratic governments all over the world have become agents of the wealthy and powerful due to the corrupt politicians, colluding media and ignorant and apathetic electorates. The problem is not unique to poor developing countries with illiterate electorates, but also prevalent in rich countries like America. The current administration has enacted huge tax cuts for the rich, exported jobs, deindustrialized the nation, run huge budget and trade deficits to facilitate huge profits for the MNCs. obscene remunerations for their officers and directors who finance the elections, while impoverishing their workers, stockholders and the average citizens.

In America, as in the UK and India there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats, Conservative and Labor, BJP and Congress. They are all captive handmaidens of their financiers and their vested interests. India is further cursed by narrow linguistic parochial parties like the Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam and various DMKs etc. who are more concerned with linguistic or religious affiliation than the nation. The Communist parties are more concerned with supporting China and opposing America rather than the welfare of the nation. The only difference is that in the West both major parties favor preemptive wars and domination of the world, while in India they oppose wars but toe neo-liberal policies of the West for the benefit of the local collaborating haves. 


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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