Regrettably and reprehensively, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has been dealing with Dr Govinda KC, orthopedic surgeon of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, a lone crusader of reform in medical and health education and symbol of voice against corruption and irregularities in government institutions, with extreme insensitivity, apathy and cruelty. This does not bode well for the PM who came to power with a sweeping mandate of good governance, prosperity and development. Instead of taking initiatives to heed and address the concerns raised by a saint-like figure, he has been describing Dr KC in bad terms. On Saturday, during an interaction in Baluwatar with Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers of Province 2, the PM is said to have questioned the very right of Dr KC to protest for just cause. “How can a person paid with taxpayers’ money call the government autocratic without doing his assigned duty?” he said alluding to Dr KC.
This is wrong in many ways. First, Dr KC and for that matter any person is free to raise the demand for reforms in the sectors they are associated with. Besides, Dr KC has been fighting for this cause for several years now and the agreements the various governments signed with his team have not yet been implemented. The recommendation of educationist Kedar Bhakta Mathema-led committee which called for ban on opening medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley for 10 years and on whose basis Medical Education Ordinance had been promulgated and tabled in the parliament last year has been completely ignored. The government seems bent on altering good provisions of the earlier ordinance to allow affiliation for medical colleges in Kathmandu. Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel has already registered the National Medical Education Bill in the parliament which seeks to allow opening more medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley. The main opposition Nepali Congress had to resort to house obstruction on Friday over this matter. PM Oli is standing with leaders affiliated with his party who have huge investments in medical colleges. Apparently, he is projecting Dr KC in bad light to prove himself right. But this won’t help. His push for private actors to have greater dominance in health and education sector is against the spirit of creating ‘socialist-oriented economy’ enshrined in the constitution.
Besides, it must not be forgotten that Dr KC’s protest is mainly against proposed legislation that fails to recognize the deals reached by successive governments with him. The cause Dr KC is fighting for has united people across the country. Health professionals from across the country, media and civil society leaders have expressed solidarity with Dr KC and they have been protesting against continued government apathy toward him. Transparency, accountability and making health and education accessible to the poor, instead of limiting them to the affordable class, is at the core of Dr KC’s demands. This is why every time he stages protest for this cause, the whole nation rises in his support. Nepali Congress has expressly stood with Dr KC. If the government continues to ignore him, it might ignite nationwide protest. Dr KC’s health is worsening. Prime Minister should display some sensitivity and heed his concerns. To ignore a Satyagrahi, just to fulfill the interests of the few affiliated with his party, will only earn him irreparable defamation both at home front and abroad.