Save the Satyagrahi

Published On: January 29, 2019 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

A senior orthopedic doctor is on 20th day of his 16th fast-unto-death demanding reform in medical education and overall health system. Worried by fast deteriorating health condition of crusader Dr Govinda KC, doctors across the country have warned of boycotting all but emergency services if the authorities concerned don’t take some immediate measures to save his life. This will no doubt create a serious havoc in hospitals within few days. People in urgent medication and health services will suffer a lot. With National Medical Education Bill already endorsed from the lower house of the parliament, critical health situation of Dr KC and doctors’ nationwide protests have made the situation quite complicated. Dr KC has refused to end his hunger strike unless the bill is amended as per the spirit of the nine-point agreement reached with him and the government in July last year. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, upon his arrival from Switzerland on Saturday, however, told journalists at the international airport that Dr KC’s hunger strike wasn’t a matter to worry about much. Such an indifferent attitude from the head of the government is unwarranted.

There can be no issue that cannot be resolved through dialogues. But the government and the leaders from the ruling party, who were quite active in talks with KC in the past, aren’t even seen to be reaching out to him this time, even as the doctor’s health is fast deteriorating. Instead, they are defending the act of endorsing the bill from the parliament. They even claim that the bill has accommodated around 95 percent demands of Dr KC. Yes, some of the good provisions of the bill are the results of Dr KC’s relentless struggle for medical education reform. Some other issues remain. But more than debating those issues and taking rigid stand, the focus of the government at the moment should be saving Dr KC’s life. Negotiation is the only way to resolve the matter. The argument that Dr KC is more rigid and that he isn’t ready to make compromise is no more convincing because it was through the negotiations and following agreements that he broke all his past 15 hunger strikes, no matter whoever was in the government in the past seven years. His major demands are based in line with the same agreements. 

We also call Dr KC and his team to be ready to find a solution without undermining Dr KC’s movement and the past agreements. The main objective of his crusade is to make meaningful reform in our overall health system. Much has been done in this direction. And, credit goes to none other than Dr KC himself. So, if his team and the government side hold talks earnestly they can find a solution. There is no need to put a Satyagrahi’s life at risk and the government’s image at stake. After endorsement from the lower house, the bill is now under discussion in Rastriya Sabha. The upper house on Monday has given 72 hours for lawmakers to register their amendments, if any. These three days can be a good opportunity for finding an amicable solution to address KC’s concerns. Nepal, which successfully resolved a decade-long insurgency through negotiations, cannot afford to damage its reputation by failing to save the life of a Satyagrahi.

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